The Truth About Cars » Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:55:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1976 Buick Electra Limited Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1976-buick-electra-limited-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1976-buick-electra-limited-coupe/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1031729 The General shrank the Buick Electra for the 1977 model year and then ditched the model entirely in 1990, so the ’76 was the last of the proper single-digit-fuel-economy Electras. These comfy gerontocrusiers used to be everywhere on American roads, even in the dark days after gas prices went crazy, and you still see them […]

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09 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe General shrank the Buick Electra for the 1977 model year and then ditched the model entirely in 1990, so the ’76 was the last of the proper single-digit-fuel-economy Electras. These comfy gerontocrusiers used to be everywhere on American roads, even in the dark days after gas prices went crazy, and you still see them in wrecking yards today, but for some reason I’ve photographed just one prior to today’s Junkyard Find.
15 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSir Mix-a-Lot immortalized the beat-up Electra as the iconic hooptie 26 years ago (not long before I photographed this ’73 on a Stockton highway).
07 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 455-cubic-inch V8 was down to a mere 205 horsepower in 1976 (27 more than the base four-cylinder engine in the 2015 Camry), but it still had (and needed) a fairly healthy 345 lb-ft of torque.
17 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have never seen one of these “digital” GM dash clocks with the scrolling seconds reel that worked, not even when they were new.
05 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAM, FM, 8-track— just the thing for your Gary Wright tapes (although your typical Buick buyer in 1976 most likely listened to something more like this tape).
03 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBuick stuck with the black-on-silver gauge schtick for quite a few years after this.

01 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029577 The traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its […]

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02 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its type. Look, it’s even a woodie!
04 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Buick Estate name goes way back in GM history. The version we’re looking at in this Northern California wrecking yard is from the final generation of the Estate Wagon, built on the downsized B platform for the 1977 through 1990 model years (after that, you could get a Roadmaster Estate).
09 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “wood” on this car isn’t particularly convincing.
11 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe cassette deck came with auto-reverse, still a futuristic technology in the eyes of Buick customers in 1989.
14 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe non-wagon LeSabre had gone to the front-drive H-body platform by this time, which must have been a bit confusing for Buick shoppers.

02 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Capsule Review: 2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-buick-lacrosse-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-buick-lacrosse-awd/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:45:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027585 Full disclosure: this is not my kind of car. Buick sold 51,468 LaCrosses last year, a 10,000-unit decline compared with 2010, even though the overall car market was 33% stronger last year than it was in 2010. Reach a whole decade back to discover that Buick sold 170,213 LaCrosses, LeSabres, and Park Avenues in 2005. […]

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2015 Buick LaCrosseFull disclosure: this is not my kind of car.

Buick sold 51,468 LaCrosses last year, a 10,000-unit decline compared with 2010, even though the overall car market was 33% stronger last year than it was in 2010. Reach a whole decade back to discover that Buick sold 170,213 LaCrosses, LeSabres, and Park Avenues in 2005.


• USD Price As Tested: ≈ $48,485

• Horsepower: 304 @ 6800 rpm

• Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 18 mpg


It’s not just a Buick thing. U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, Lexus ES, Nissan Maxima, and Toyota Avalon combined to slide 9% in 2014, year-over-year. LaCrosse sales actually increased slightly in 2014, but 2015 is off to a rough start with sales down 17% through two months.

More disclosure: big Buick sedans are increasingly not your kind of car, either. And by “your”, I’m referring to the market as a whole.

That doesn’t mean I can’t be converted. Despite its terribly light steering, one week with the 2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ led me to tell my wife that we should pick up a used one in a couple years. She laughed at me. “We’re not your grandparents,” she said. I hope she felt really guilty about reminding me that all my grandparents are, you know, dead.

2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD in snowI enjoyed a week last summer with the latest all-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis, as well. Granted, its rear-wheel-drive-based architecture does offer a different vibe. The Ford Taurus is too small inside, but the Chrysler 300? Ever more cool to my eyes. The Dodge Charger is available with more than 700 horsepower, and that Hellcat rubs off nicely on all the lesser Chargers.

But the 2015 LaCrosse, a Lexus ES-fighting, 3.6L V6-powered, all-wheel-drive big car with a surprisingly tight 13.3-cubic-foot trunk and an as-tested Canadian price of nearly $52,000, is not my kind of car. True, it’s a nicely executed version of what it’s supposed to be. Alas, what it’s supposed to be is not for me, and the figures suggest, it’s not for you, either.

2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD PremiumLoaned to us for the week by GM Canada, the LaCrosse is supremely quiet, albeit let down by a set of noisy Hancook winter tires on our tester. The rear seat is expansive with plenty of width for three if need be. Buick’s Intellilink infotainment unit is sufficiently straightforward and simple, not the best but certainly not the worst interface in the automobile world. From most angles, the LaCrosse looks quite nice, as well, and certainly more premium than it did when this second-generation debuted half a decade ago. Interior material quality is quite posh, even on the rear doors.

Unfortunately, there’s more than a hint of old Americana in the way the LaCrosse makes its way down the road. The engine’s bounty is noticeable, but so is the car’s 4140-pound curb weight. While the LaCrosse is surprisingly composed when driven with a moderate level of increased urge down a twisty road, the level of surprise arrives in large part due to your own expectations. And the fact that the LaCrosse feels better at six-tenths than three-tenths is troublesome. Sure, it always manages to mask pavement imperfections, but it’s working so hard to do so that there’s a faint but constant sensation of up-and-down-side-to-side of body movement, like a waiter who consistently provides refills but always seems to be hovering over your table.

2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD Premium InteriorThe LaCrosse’s steering is sharper than the Impala’s, but its overall ride and handling balance lags behind the Chevy, which feels much smaller to drive than it actually is. All-wheel-drive availability is one key differentiating factor; a buyer’s locale determines the degree to which four driven wheels are essential.

Refreshed for MY2014, the second-gen LaCrosse is now in its sixth model year. Even in old age, it proves Buick can do luxury well. Combine that premium quotient with the Verano Turbo’s Euro-like balance, the Regal’s snappier exterior styling, and the Impala’s vast cargo area and perhaps the LaCrosse is transformed into my kind of car.

It’d help if they got rid of the capacitive touch climate controls, too. My grandparents wouldn’t have a clue what to do with those.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Hurry Up, Envision: Encore Isn’t Quite Able To Carry Buick On Its Back http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/hurry-envision-encore-isnt-quite-able-carry-buick-back/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/hurry-envision-encore-isnt-quite-able-carry-buick-back/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:38:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020713 What is Buick in America without the Encore, the automaker’s most disparaged product on these pages? Buick reported 16,114 LaCrosse, Regal, Verano, and Enclave sales in February 2014, a figure which fell 22% in February 2015, when the aging products were, quite obviously, one year older. Year-to-date volume of non-Encore Buicks tumbled 20% through the […]

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2013 Buick EncoreWhat is Buick in America without the Encore, the automaker’s most disparaged product on these pages?

Buick reported 16,114 LaCrosse, Regal, Verano, and Enclave sales in February 2014, a figure which fell 22% in February 2015, when the aging products were, quite obviously, one year older.

Year-to-date volume of non-Encore Buicks tumbled 20% through the first two months of 2015, a loss of 5441 sales across four nameplates.

So far this year, LaCrosse sales are down 17%. Regal volume is off by 32%. Sales of the Verano are down 18%. The Enclave is off last year’s two-month pace by 19%.

Yet the Encore, beginning its third full year, continues to thrive. One year ago at this time, Encore sales were up 179% compared with the launch period in early 2013. This year, January volume jumped 46% and February sales shot up 60%.

2013 Buick Enclave. Photo courtesy wikipedia.orgThrough two months, Encore sales are up 54%, an improvement of more than 2900 units. The Encore, an entry-level saviour for Buick dealers at the moment, represents 28% of Buick’s volume. (Buick’s two utilities are outselling Buick’s three cars by 1035 units in early 2015.)

The current Regal went on sale in the first half of 2010 and saw its role sorely diminished by the Verano’s arrival at the end of 2011. The LaCrosse, though refreshed for MY2014, was first sold for MY2010. 2015 marks the Enclave’s ninth year of availability.

The necessity of new products aside, can Buick continue to sell its freshest product, the Encore, at a rate of 4100 units per month with new competitors rising up from every corner of the industry? While it seems unlikely that the Encore can persistently add volume at the prodigious rates it has routinely achieved thus far, the increased appetite among new car buyers for this very type of vehicle should produce further Encore health.

Of course, Buick does need other products to step in and help out, because even the Encore’s rate of expansion hasn’t produced overall health for Buick over the last two months. Encore-inclusive Buick brand sales are down 8% through the first two months of 2015.

Buick EnvisionWith America’s car market failing to grow at anything like the pace of the overall new vehicle market, don’t expect revamped LaCrosses, Regals, or Veranos to do the trick, either. Don’t assume the Cascada will be a volume player. And don’t expect a production Avenir to drop out of the sky in the near future. No, like so many automakers, the Encore and Enclave will need help from yet another crossover: the Envision.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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General Motors Cutting Production To Relieve Inventory Glut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008274 Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand. Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is […]

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2015-buick-verano-model-overview-exterior-938x528-splash-guards_2

Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand.

Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is responsible for the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano, while the Flex line handles the Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, Buick Regal, and Cadillac XTS.

The reduction in production comes amid consumer demand for trucks and crossovers over said vehicles, of which the Sonic and Regal hold the highest inventory levels at 216 and 213 days as of February 1, 2015. The Sonic’s inventory level is the highest since the subcompact’s August 2011 debut, while the Regal jumped to its level from just 96 days back on January 1.

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Lexus Takes Gold In 2015 JD Power Dependability Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008050 For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study. The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making […]

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Lexus RCF cliff, side

For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making a huge leap from fifth place in 2014 to take silver with 110 problems per 100 vehicles reported. Toyota had one more problem compared to Buick.

Among the rest, Cadillac took home fourth, while Honda and Porsche tied for fifth. Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion and Chevrolet round out the top 10 for 2015, while Land Rover and Fiat landed at the bottom of the list with 258 and 273 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively.

As for the problems themselves, most took issue with their vehicle’s Bluetooth and voice-recognition systems, followed by problems with the vehicle’s engine or transmission, the latter mostly focused on “automatic transmission hesitation and rough shifting.”

This year’s study surveyed over 34,000 original owners of 2012 models after three years of ownership, with the survey taking place between November and December of 2014.

2015 VDS Slide1_0

2015 VDS Slide2_0

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Piston Slap: A Silver Arrow Through the Heart? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-silver-arrow-heart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-silver-arrow-heart/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:47:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001802 TTAC commentator confused1096 writes: Sajeev, I need some insight and good advice from yourself and the B & B. Here’s the problem: After my wife’s back surgery we no longer use my ’99 Buick Riviera Silver Arrow (#120) since it’s not comfortable for her to sit in (too low down, shape of seat etc.). We […]

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Silver Arrow desktop

TTAC commentator confused1096 writes:

Sajeev, I need some insight and good advice from yourself and the B & B. Here’s the problem: After my wife’s back surgery we no longer use my ’99 Buick Riviera Silver Arrow (#120) since it’s not comfortable for her to sit in (too low down, shape of seat etc.).

We find ourselves racking up the miles on my old ’97 Fat Panther or her own ’08 Pacifica with the 4,0 engine and the B-W 6-speed transmission. The Silver Arrow sits in storage most of the time although I take it out regularly to prevent the battery from dying. I’ve spent some money on this car, had the aluminum hood repainted, new shocks/struts, correct manifold and so forth but now I am starting to wonder if it is worthwhile keeping it, especially since we are planning to relocate to the KC area in the near future.

Usually a decisive person, I don’t seem to be able to make up my mind. Need some wisdom, please! Should I:

  • Option 1: Keep the car, hoping that it will appreciate enough to make it worthwhile in the longer term?
  • Option 2: Trade it in for a black-on-black Mark VIII? Although I always thought the Riv was better looking….
  • Option 3: Sell it and use the proceeds to buy a fuel injected late-model Triumph Bonneville?

Sajeev answers:

The story of the Silver Arrow, along with other custom bodied GM products, is a fantastic notion lost to automotive history.  Why not make a custom bodied Infiniti Q60 Coupe with touches Nissan’s design studio only dream for mass-market consumption?

And no hackjob clichés intended for the SEMA show: I’m talkin’ serious Bill Mitchell type shit.  And with that in mind…

Option 1: your Silver Arrow is just a trim job on a low-interest production coupe, it won’t appreciate “enough to make it worthwhile.”  Keeping a last-gen Riv that isn’t a time capsule (i.e. original paint, super low miles) is a fool’s errand: it’s no people’s champ like a similar Mustang, Camaro, Lexus SC, Mercedes SL, etc. Generating demand will be tough: you gotta like having it around to justify that effort.

Option 2: Same problem. The Mark VIII, unlike the Riv, is awash in more unique components (air suspension, misc. electronic boxes) that are sometimes painful to keep alive. Even with the not bean-counted design from GM’s truly dark ages, desirable rear wheel drive and V8 propulsion, the Mark is no rapidly appreciating classic.

Option 3: If you like bikes, well, that’s a pretty cool one.  Compared to your other options AND your plan to move elsewhere, it might be the smartest move.  Provided the Silver Arrow isn’t worth having around.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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January 2015 Sales: Buick’s Cars Bring The Brand Down http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/january-2015-sales-buicks-cars-bring-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/january-2015-sales-buicks-cars-bring-brand/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993906 Rough starts do not invariably lend credence to the belief that 2015 will be full of doom and gloom. Although January accounts for 8.5% of a calendar year, the month was responsible for just 6.7% of all new vehicle sales in 2013; only 6.1% of all new vehicle sales in 2014. For a number of […]

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2015 Buick Regal GS redRough starts do not invariably lend credence to the belief that 2015 will be full of doom and gloom. Although January accounts for 8.5% of a calendar year, the month was responsible for just 6.7% of all new vehicle sales in 2013; only 6.1% of all new vehicle sales in 2014.

For a number of auto brands, however, 2015 could be difficult. At Scion, for example, sales fell 7% in 2013 and 15% in 2013, decreasing in 19 consecutive months before January 2015’s 8% year-over-year decline.


• Encore sales up 46.5% in January

• Regal falls into three-digit territory

• GM car sales down 7.3%


Jaguar volume slid 6% in January, a poor follow-up to 2014’s 7% drop. Although the XE will help, it’ll be a while before the brand’s new entry-level model actually lands. Smart is entering a transition phase, and the 6% drop in January to just 492 sales translated to the brand’s lowest-volume month since January 2013 and the second-lowest since November 2011.

Meanwhile, the 20% and 50% drops at Maserati and Bentley, respectively, equal slight volume decreases which could easily be made up in a single month at some point down the road.

But after 2014’s 11% increase – the fifth consecutive year in which annual volume has improved – and ten monthly YOY improvements in 2014, Buick sales slid 5.5% in January 2015.

Cause for concern? Likely not: Buick sales decreased slightly in January of last year, as well, and the year turned out to be one of significant growth. However, the specific areas in which the Buick lineup struggled are slightly more worrying.

January 2015 winners losers auto sales chartAlthough it was made clear yesterday that TTAC is no fan, Encore volume predictably jumped 46.5% to 3465 units in January. It was the brand’s second-best-selling model behind the Enclave, which attracted only 32 more sales than its baby brother. Enclave sales were basically flat, down just 12 units compared with January 2014.

Buick car volume, however, tumbled by more than 1800 units, a 24.5% loss created by declines at all three car nameplates.

LaCrosse sales in America were down 29% to 2023 units in January.

At first glance, one might assume that big LaCrosse months at the end of 2014 (more than 10,000 LaCrosses were sold in November and December) downgraded inventory levels. But Automotive News reported more than 17,000 LaCrosses in stock at the beginning of January. It is entirely possible, however, that deal-making at the end of 2014 brought forward sales that might otherwise have occurred in the first-quarter of 2015.

Regal sales in America were down 45% to 792 units in January.

This was the first time monthly U.S. Regal sales fell below four digits since June 2010, the reborn Regal’s first full month on sale. GM possessed a 96-day stock of Regals at the beginning of January.

Verano sales in America were down 11% to 2776 units in January.

The Verano accounted for half of all Buick car sales in January 2015, down from 42% in January 2014. There was no shortage of available Veranos on dealer lots. Calendar year 2014 Verano volume was down 4%.

America’s car market hardly expanded in 2014, but there were signs of life in January. Eight of America’s ten best-selling cars reported improved sales in January. Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen all generated improved January car sales, in addition to gains made by a number of premium brands.

Yet car sales trouble wasn’t a Buick-exclusive issue at General Motors last month. Although Buick was the most sorely impacted overall, Cadillac car sales slid 7%, but the brand was rescued by strong Escalade sales. Chevrolet car sales slid 5%, but light truck Chevys jumped 43%, propelling the brand to a 20% overall improvement. (GMC, remember, doesn’t sell any cars.) As a result, GM car volume was down 7% in January 2015, a month in which U.S. car sales jumped 8%.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Buick Encore http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-buick-encore/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-buick-encore/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989690 Against all odds, the Buick Encore has managed to sell in fairly decent numbers. Despite looking like a four-wheeled rollerskate, Buick’s trucklet moved nearly 49,000 units in 2014, up from roughly 31,000 during its debut in 2013. Part of the Encore’s success must be attributed to the fact that it was the first to show […]

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Against all odds, the Buick Encore has managed to sell in fairly decent numbers. Despite looking like a four-wheeled rollerskate, Buick’s trucklet moved nearly 49,000 units in 2014, up from roughly 31,000 during its debut in 2013. Part of the Encore’s success must be attributed to the fact that it was the first to show up to the party. The small CUV craze is only just heating up now in America, and the Encore is arguably the premiere (in terms of chronology, not quality) premium entrant in the segment. Demand is strong enough that GM has expanded production to two plants (Mexico and Spain as well as the initial Korean location) and will import 50 percent more units versus last year.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why. The Encore is one of the worst cars I’ve driven in a long time.

Ok, to be fair, there is a case to made for an Encore – a flimsy one – but it does exist. According to Automotive News, the Encore is a hit with empty-nesters who are between the ages of 45 and 65 and looking to downsize. This is right in the sweet spot for Buick’s demographic, and the Encore lets buyers have the comfort of a CUV (the ride height, the ease of entry and exit) in a compact package that’s easy to park and maneuver. Seriously, it’s not half bad to steer around, owing to its Chevy Sonic roots.

The steering is light but responsive and the chassis seemed, dare I say it, agile, while providing a comfortable, utterly silent ride. The Buick version of MyLink isn’t bad either. Not as good as UConnect, but so much better than Cadillac’s CUE system, and right around the same level as the new MyFord Touch system. And that’s about it. And really, that’s probably all that the target buyer is looking for. From any other perspective. The rest of the car is an absolute mess.

The Encore could very well be GM’s ugliest car since the Aztek. It’s difficult to make a vehicle with the proportions of a roller skate look attractive, but the Buick-appropriate levels of chrome (including the wheels, grille and ventiports) make the car look like a four-wheeled approximation of an apple-shaped, post-rehab Liza Minelli sashaying in a sequined evening gown. Inside isn’t much better. The materials and surfaces deserve some credit, but GM’s approach to the center stack appears to be “stick all of the buttons, everywhere”.

In concept, this isn’t a bad idea. Older buyers are more likely to gravitate to tactile controls rather than complicated touch screens. In execution, it rarely works (Acura is also guilty of this on the last generation TL, for example), since there are so many functions on modern cars that a button-based user interface ends up looking cluttered and haphazard. In the Encore, they don’t feel very good either. For a $32,000 car, it’s not much better than what you’d find in a $14,000 Sonic, and no amount of faux-stitching on the dashboard panels can make up for that.

The Encore’s chassis and 1.4T engine are worthy of merit on their own, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. With a curb weight of 3200 lbs, 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft is simply not going to cut it – especially when the power is delivered by GM’s 6-speed automatic. This unit, which appears on a wide range of transverse-layout cars, is a wretched one. Shifts occur in what seem to be geological ages, and it only serves to exacerbate what should be “plain old underpowered” into a situation where 60 mph comes up in over 10 seconds. It’s not particularly smooth or conducive to outstanding fuel economy either. While the EPA rates the Encore AWD at 23/30/26 mpg city/highway/combined, you’ll end up hammering the gas to make any reasonable forward progress – about the worst thing you can do for a turbo engine. Replacing the transmission would be one of the best things GM can do for its entire lineup, and would go a long way to redeem the Encore. Not even a Trifecta Tune can solve this problem. It looks like GM is considering a larger engine as well.

As a crossover, the Encore doesn’t hold up particularly well either. At 18.8 cubic feet of cargo room (48.4 cubic feet with the seats down), it’s not particularly spacious. Honda’s HR-V has 24.3 feet of space for stuff with the seats up, and an additional 10 feet over the Encore when the seats are down. At best, the Encore is built for four. You can forget about stuffing an adult in the rear middle seat, and anybody over 6 feet is going to have a miserable time on anything approaching a long trip.

Our tester, a fully loaded AWD model, stickered at $32,000. That’s big money for a tiny crossover with a barely premium badge and equipment that is shared with lesser GM models. If I were to invoke the hyperbolic prose that journalists tend to fall back on, I’d question why anyone bought this car (particularly when there’s the Jetta Sportwagen blah blah blah). But I get it. Even though it’s not very good at doing anything particularly well, there’s a growing demographic of older, affluent buyers who want something with the ride height of a CUV and the footprint of a smaller car and the soft, quiet driving experience of a luxury car. The Encore fills that niche. When placed in the wider context of the automotive market, it starts to look silly.

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NAIAS 2015: Buick Reveals Avenir Concept Ahead Of Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-buick-reveals-avenir-concept-ahead-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-buick-reveals-avenir-concept-ahead-show/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 01:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=976233 Buick unveiled another vehicle ahead of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, this time in the form of the Avenir Concept [Live photos now available – CA]. General Motors says the Avenir pays tribute to classic Buick production and concept models like the boattail Riviera and Wildcat II. Power to all corners comes from a direct-injection […]

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Buick unveiled another vehicle ahead of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, this time in the form of the Avenir Concept [Live photos now available – CA].

General Motors says the Avenir pays tribute to classic Buick production and concept models like the boattail Riviera and Wildcat II. Power to all corners comes from a direct-injection V6 via a nine-speed auto controlled with flappy paddles. The V6 uses Active Fuel Management and stop-start tech to maintain fuel economy.

Inside, the driver and three passengers are treated to nature- and sea-inspired surfaces, premium leather and LED lighting. Other features include: ionic cabin air filtration; OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi; Buick IntelliLink with access via 12-inch touchscreen; driver-selectable suspension dampening; and device synchronization.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Buick Cascada Marks Brand Return To Convertibles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-buick-cascada-marks-brand-return-convertibles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-buick-cascada-marks-brand-return-convertibles/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 18:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=975697 Revealed ahead of its 2015 Detroit Auto Show debut, the 2016 Buick Cascada marks the brand’s return to the convertible game after a 25-year absence [Live photos now available – CA]. The 2+2 convertible — based on the Opel model of the same name — can seat four adults comfortably, with its top able to […]

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Revealed ahead of its 2015 Detroit Auto Show debut, the 2016 Buick Cascada marks the brand’s return to the convertible game after a 25-year absence [Live photos now available – CA].

The 2+2 convertible — based on the Opel model of the same name — can seat four adults comfortably, with its top able to provide more of the same when up, both in regards to warmth and noise. Said top can be taken down in 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph.

Speaking of speed, power for the Cascada comes via a 1.6-liter turbo-four with direct injection and variable valve timing, capable of 200 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque, 221 lb-ft with overboost. A six-speed auto will direct that power to the front.

Heading back inside, those who take their Cascada to the beach house for a weekend getaway will have 13.4 cubic feet of cargo space to use with the top up, 9.8 cubic feet when the top is down. The electronically controlled rear seatbacks fold down to provide more storage space, as well.

Other features include: Buick IntelliLink connected-vehicle system with Apple iOS 6+ compatibility; pop-up rollover protection bars that activate upon detection of potential rollover accidents; OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi; standard safety features such as lane departure, rear park assist, rearview camera and Rainsense windshield wipers; HiPer Strut front suspension, derived from the Regal and LaCrosse; Watts Z-link rear suspension; and a rigid body structure composed of high-strength steel, reinforced side sills, and A-pillars made with press-hardened steel.

The 2016 Buick Cascada is set to go on sale next year.

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Buick Blows Cascadas Cover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buick-blows-cascadas-cover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buick-blows-cascadas-cover/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 02:01:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974258 This is Buick’s display at NAIAS. On the right hand side atop the curved display, you can clearly make out a Cascada.

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This is Buick’s display at NAIAS. On the right hand side atop the curved display, you can clearly make out a Cascada.

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Buick Wants You To Envision A Cascade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buick-wants-envision-cascade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buick-wants-envision-cascade/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 19:55:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973265 Automotive News has good news for Buick dealers. Two new products will be debating at next week’s North American International Auto Show. According to reports, the new products will be an American version of the mid-size Envision crossover as well as a Buick-badged version of the Opel Cascada. While the Envision has its work cut […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Automotive News has good news for Buick dealers. Two new products will be debating at next week’s North American International Auto Show.

According to reports, the new products will be an American version of the mid-size Envision crossover as well as a Buick-badged version of the Opel Cascada. While the Envision has its work cut out for it in the luxury CUV market, the Cascada will occupy an important niche for the American consumer – a domestic, front-drive, four-seat convertible. Call it the heir to the Chrysler 200’s throne. We’ll be sure to rent one on our next trip to South Florida.

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Piston Slap: The U Body, The Relay Bad Idle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-u-body-relay-bad-idle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-u-body-relay-bad-idle/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 13:26:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=970665   TTAC Commentator APaGttH writes: Sajeev! Long time listener, first time caller. The patient: a 2005 Saturn Relay FWD3 with 151K miles, GM 3.5L V6 and 4-speed automatic. I am the fifth owner and this is our grocery getter and general abuse vehicle. I’m the longest owner – 4 years and about 55K of those […]

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U Relay Got A Problem? (photo courtesy: APaGttH)

TTAC Commentator APaGttH writes:

Sajeev!

Long time listener, first time caller. The patient: a 2005 Saturn Relay FWD3 with 151K miles, GM 3.5L V6 and 4-speed automatic. I am the fifth owner and this is our grocery getter and general abuse vehicle. I’m the longest owner – 4 years and about 55K of those 151K miles have been in my garage. I can’t comment on how well it was cared for from year 2 to year 6, but I have done everything by the book since 96K miles.

The Saturn developed a rough idle of sorts about a year ago. I swapped out the spark plugs, changed the fuel filter, and flushed the fuel injection. The car continues to idle rough. No CEL and no CEL history.

Rough idle doesn’t start until the engine is warmed up. There is an occasional difficult hot start, but nothing that falls into, “crap, I’m going to be left for dead because this won’t start,” hard. The rough idle isn’t shown on the tachometer, which is as steady as a rock. But the engine definitely feels like it is vibrating for a lack of a better way to describe it, and far beyond the general coarseness of the GM “high value” 3.5L V6.

The hood is resonating and making metal vibrating noises from it – which isn’t as alarming as it sounds as the fit and finish on the panels isn’t as tight as it should be. Put a few finger lightly on the hood and the noise goes away. The vibration is worse under load, like when the AC is running, and reaches a point you can feel it in the car seats. Acceleration is perfectly normal, driving is perfectly normal, and fuel economy is perfectly normal. No issues outside of idle. There is no rotten egg of burning match smell, and van recently passed emissions. Another thing we’ve noticed – living close to sea level, the problem is worse. If we cross the mountain passes and go to altitude, say about 2.5K feet or higher, the problem goes away. If I give the car light gas at idle, to say 1.2K RPM, the vibration goes away.

I’m stumped. Possible candidates in my mind include the IAC has gone, or is going bad, vacuum leak Hell, bad motor mount, or a dirty MAF and/or throttle body. Given the book value is under $4K and my plan is to drive it to 200K or death, whichever comes first, I’m not interested in pouring a ton of money into the van at this point, but I would like to get this addressed as it feels like something I can’t ignore.

Sajeev answers:

You “relay” should scan the computer to see if there’s a latent code that isn’t triggering the CEL.  And U “relay” should consider the smooth idle of LS4-FTW instead of this High Value LX9’s bad idle.

The engine vibration turning into body (hood) problems means that the mounts to the body are the problem. But perhaps new mounts aren’t in your budget, as you’re saving up for LS4-FTW, obviously. In the meantime, there was a TSB with a recalibration resolution to address the hot-restart issue. Get that done first, if applicable.

If that doesn’t cure the bad idle, or if it isn’t applicable? Well… maybe the Relay “relay” needs new mounts, especially the torque mounts (I forgot their name) as seen in the photo below.

Very professionally highlighted in red. (photo courtesy: gtcarlot.com)

Basically, LS4-FTW is the only answer.  We gotta believe, we must ensure the notion of a bad-ass V8 U-body actually turns into a trend.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: A Fireball of a 3.8L Oil Leak? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-fireball-3-8l-oil-leak/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-fireball-3-8l-oil-leak/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:34:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961145   Robert writes: I have changed the seal 2 times on my 3.8L Chevy and it still will leak. I had a place on harmonic balancer.I put the recommended slave to repair.It was not long enough to cover the bad spot on the balancer.It was close but they seal was damaged.They offer a different one […]

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(photo courtesy: underhoodservice.com)

Robert writes:

I have changed the seal 2 times on my 3.8L Chevy and it still will leak. I had a place on harmonic balancer.I put the recommended slave to repair.It was not long enough to cover the bad spot on the balancer.It was close but they seal was damaged.They offer a different one that is$30+.This all occurred just out of the blue.I rebuilt the engine and it has 30,000 on it.I was wondering if there is something causing pressure around this seal.Pressure check on cylinders was good.Any ideas what to do or pressure is good too good.

Thank you sincerely – Robert

Sajeev answers:

The problem seems common, a leak behind the harmonic balancer at the crankshaft’s front seal.  Or maybe I misread your letter, or googled incorrectly.

I also presume you installed this “sleeve” to repair it, but it didn’t work because it was too short. The correct one, or perhaps General Motors makes a revised seal/harmonic balancer that supersedes your part number should solve the problem.  But the real problem?

I can’t find a clear solution. This thread on 3800pro.com mentions blow by: excessive crankcase pressure that exacerbates an oil leak. You could bypass the PCV with a crankcase breather filter (if it won’t trigger a check engine light), then clean the motor and check for leaks…

…or install LS4-FTW the “different one that is $30+” as that might be the permanent solution.

Help us out, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Buick Skylark Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1972-buick-skylark-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1972-buick-skylark-sedan/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=953433 After seeing this ’72 Ford Econoline one-ton camper van on Tuesday and this ’72 Mercury Monterey coupe on Monday, how about another 1972 Junkyard Find? Here’s a ’72 Buick Skylark that I shot in a Denver yard, all the way back in 2010; I’d been saving these photos until I could come up with a […]

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DOTJ-72Skylark-03After seeing this ’72 Ford Econoline one-ton camper van on Tuesday and this ’72 Mercury Monterey coupe on Monday, how about another 1972 Junkyard Find? Here’s a ’72 Buick Skylark that I shot in a Denver yard, all the way back in 2010; I’d been saving these photos until I could come up with a whole week’s worth of GM A-body cars, but the A-bodies have become so valuable (and thus rare in cheap self-serve wrecking yards) that I’ve run out of patience. Welcome back to 1972 Junkyard Week™!
DOTJ-72Skylark-11Actually, I shot these photos immediately after moving to Denver to marry my long-distance girlfriend. Hey, that reminds me of a family legend I hear every time I’m around my in-laws, about the time my future wife, at age six, got carsick and barfed all over the interior of the brand-new ’71 Skylark coupe her father had just bought the day before (in her defense, she’d warned the grown-ups that she wasn’t feeling so good). So much for That New Car Smell!
DOTJ-72Skylark-02The Buick 350 was completely unrelated to the Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac 350s, but GM ensured many decades of parts-counter confusion by giving them all the same nominal displacement number and doing plenty of mix-and-match engine roulette later in the 1970s. The Buick and Olds 350s were the best for convenience-store-parking-lot burnouts, in my opinion.
DOTJ-72Skylark-07Yes, I bought this dealer emblem. I sent it to a Swedish lover of old Detroit cars (along with a few license plates) for garage decor a couple of months back.

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Opel Cascada May Become Buick Velite If Trademark Is Approved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/opel-cascada-may-become-buick-velite-trademark-approved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/opel-cascada-may-become-buick-velite-trademark-approved/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954513 When the Opel Cascada hits U.S. showrooms in 2015 as a Buick, it may leave its name at home, as well. GM Authority reports General Motors recently filed a fifth extension with the United States Patent & Trademark Office for the trademark Velite, with the intent to use it for “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles, […]

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When the Opel Cascada hits U.S. showrooms in 2015 as a Buick, it may leave its name at home, as well.

GM Authority reports General Motors recently filed a fifth extension with the United States Patent & Trademark Office for the trademark Velite, with the intent to use it for “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles, sport utility vehicles, trucks, vans, engines therefor and structural parts thereof.”

The trademark had been in use as far back as 2004, when Buick unveiled its Velite convertible concept at that year’s New York Auto Show. Then, it was based upon GM’s Zeta platform, and had a 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 paired with a six-speed auto.

Presently, the original application — filed in 2011 — is still not fully approved by the agency, waiting for the automaker to submit its Statement of Use document confirming the trademark will be used on a real-world vehicle.

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GM’s Big Crossovers vs. GM’s Big SUVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gms-big-crossovers-vs-gms-big-suvs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gms-big-crossovers-vs-gms-big-suvs/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:41:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935722 General Motors has sold 189,354 copies of its big Lambda-platform crossovers in the United States this year. Combined sales of the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia have risen by a scant 137 units through the first nine months of 2014. GM’s six full-size, body-on-frame, pickup-based SUVs, on the other hand, have collectively increased […]

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe whiteGeneral Motors has sold 189,354 copies of its big Lambda-platform crossovers in the United States this year. Combined sales of the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia have risen by a scant 137 units through the first nine months of 2014.

GM’s six full-size, body-on-frame, pickup-based SUVs, on the other hand, have collectively increased their U.S. volume by 22%, a gain of 32,652 sales, to 183,080 units in total.

These nine nameplates have generated 17% of GM’s 2.2 million year-to-date sales.

Examining each nameplate individually reveals multiple storylines wrapped inside the hefty numbers.

Enclave sales reached record highs in 2013, and 2014’s 1% decrease, if it holds, should still translate to the nameplate’s second-best year in the model’s eight-year history.

The Traverse hasn’t been around as long – 2014 will be its sixth full year on the market – but it’s the highest-volume Lambda product, accounting for 42% of the trio’s sales. Traverse volume has risen 6% this year to 79,560 units through nine months. Year end volume should reach a three-year high but it’s unlikely the Traverse will match its 2011 record-high levels.

GM SUV crossover sales chart 2014 Like the Enclave, the Acadia also produced best-ever sales in 2013, but 2014 sales are down 5.3%. Year end volume should top 80,000 units for the just the second time since the Acadia went on sale in late 2006.

Among the fresh-faced, truck-based SUVs in GM’s portfolio, long-wheelbase variants account for 37% of the sextuplet’s year-to-date volume. The Tahoe and Suburban are the two volume leaders, with 70,528 and 38,588 sales in 2014’s first nine months. These big SUVs aren’t quite as readily available as the big crossovers, which all possess abundant inventory. The Escalade and Escalade ESV, in particular, are rather rare, with just 25 days of supply as of the beginning of October.

So, Lambda wins the family fight? Not so fast. While through nine months the crossover trio has outsold the GMT900/K2XX family, that wasn’t the case in July and August, and they outsold the big SUVs by only 225 units in September. Third-quarter sales of the Escalade, Escalade ESV, Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, and Yukon XL shot up to 72,216 units. The Acadia, Enclave, and Traverse managed 65,989 third-quarter sales.

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Chart Of The Day: Buick’s Fast Fall And Steady Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-buicks-fast-fall-steady-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-buicks-fast-fall-steady-rise/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:53:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934266 Through the first nine months of 2014, U.S. Buick volume is up 8% to 170,764 units, nearly 50,000 sales back of Lexus, sales of which have risen 16%. Though Buick, the 19th-best-selling auto brand in America, trails Lexus, the 18th-best-selling brand, by a wide margin, Buick has opened up a wide lead over America’s three […]

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Buick historical sales chartThrough the first nine months of 2014, U.S. Buick volume is up 8% to 170,764 units, nearly 50,000 sales back of Lexus, sales of which have risen 16%. Though Buick, the 19th-best-selling auto brand in America, trails Lexus, the 18th-best-selling brand, by a wide margin, Buick has opened up a wide lead over America’s three next-best-selling brands, Audi, Cadillac, and Acura. 

Three-quarters of 2014 tells us only a very little bit about Buick’s recent history. Compared with 2002, when today’s COTD begins, only one Buick nameplate still exists. And while Buick owned 2.6% of the overall U.S. market in 2002 – and GM 28.6% – Buick’s market share through the first three-quarters of 2014 stands at 1.4%.

Buick marketed four cars and an SUV in 2002; three cars and two crossovers from opposite ends of the size spectrum in 2014. Buick’s collapse began long before the size of the U.S. auto industry began to dramatically shrink in the latter portion of 2008. Buick sales slid 22% in 2003. (The four brands which currently sell in the most Buick-like numbers all posted increases in 2003, as the market fell 1%.) Between 2002 and 2007, Buick volume shrunk by 57% as the market slid 4%.

Since 2009’s crash, however, Buick’s U.S. sales have more than doubled, far greater than the growth achieved by the industry as a whole, which at approximately 60% could make 2014 the highest-volume calendar year since 2006.

Buick’s climb back up the leaderboard is not occurring as quickly as did its slide down the leaderboard a decade ago. Of course, we don’t expect Buick to sell more than 160,000 copies of something like the Century in 2014. GM has Buick’s sights set higher. (Granted, Buick generates 41% of its U.S. volume with its entry-level models, the Verano and Encore, but that’s down from the 47% produced by the Century and Regal in 2002.)

Buick passenger car sales are up 0.3% to 88,410 units in 2014. Enclave sales have fallen 1% to 45,921. Encore volume is up 59% to 36,433. Encore aside, Buick sales would be up by 221 units this year, a 0.2% gain.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Piston Slap: The E-Z Out for My BMW, Minivan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-7/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:19:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=929906 TTAC regular psarhjinian writes: I just bought a E46 3-Series that needs some care (hey, it was cheap!) and snapped off both bolts holding the alternator to (I think) the oil filter housing. I’ve gotten the alernator off, but the last inch-or-so of the threaded section of one bolt is broken off. Thank you, BMW for […]

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Gotcha! (photo courtesy: http://f30.bimmerpost.com/)

TTAC regular psarhjinian writes:

I just bought a E46 3-Series that needs some care (hey, it was cheap!) and snapped off both bolts holding the alternator to (I think) the oil filter housing. I’ve gotten the alernator off, but the last inch-or-so of the threaded section of one bolt is broken off. Thank you, BMW for using steel bolts in an aluminum block.

Question one: What’s the best method for getting these out? I might be able to back them out with a reversing bit, but there isn’t a lot of clearance (can’t centre-punch it; it’s not a clean break) and I would really, really not like to take the OFH off.

Same car, second question: these things leak PS fluid like crazy out of the reservoir (“they all do that”, but I’m replacing the reservoir and hoses anyway, and the clamps BMW uses just suck…). Combined with a hole in the fender and a prior owner who lived on a dirt rural road, this has created a mini Tar Sands in the engine compartment. What’s the best way to clean out an engine bay when you live in a rental and don’t have a outside water tap? I don’t want to take the car to a carwash and pressure-washer-blast it for fear of making things worse.

Third question: on my wife’s Pontiac Montana (2007) there’s an awful, junky rattling from the front driver’s side over even small bumps, and stretches of bad pavement sound like the van is going to shed parts, and if I rock the car side-to-side I can hear a clink/clank from the wheelwell. Since I need one working car, I need to keep downtime to a minimum and can’t go on a fishing expedition. Where should I be looking and what should I replace?

Sajeev answers:

The best way? It’s via screw extractor (aka E-Z Out) but that’s really the hard way: LSX-FTW swap is the far smarter route.  Sure, it’s more expensive and far more labor intensive.  But you’ll never have to curse BMW for their poor choice in fasteners, hose clamps, and everything else that nickel and dimes you at the E46’s age.  And when the engine is out, you go right ahead and get some shop towels, soak them in engine degreaser and wear some rubber gloves.

Only slightly joking, considering your follow-up email…

psarhjinian added:

Question 1: had to take the oil filter off, tried to use an easy-out on the bolt. Broke the easy-out inside the bolt. Local machine shops won’t touch it and a new OFH is going to be cheaper. So that’s that question answered, dammit.

Question 2: Let’s say that getting the PS reservoir off has made even more of a mess, so this applies.

Question 3: Still here.

Sajeev concludes:

Question 1: Getting a replacement junkyard part is often the best move (time and value-wise, even for BMW spec spares), even if a machine shop would take your money for the work. This isn’t a Cord 812 or something, there are plenty of spares lying around.

Question 2: Don’t worry, take it to the coin-op car wash and use their engine cleaner.  If you are really worried about your rubber lines, electrical connections, etc check the BMW’s “weak spots” that a power washer could get. Then cover them up with a plastic baggie.  Modern cars lack distributors, I don’t see a problem if you refrain from shooting every little thing with high pressure water.  If you are super paranoid, take a can of compressed air to shoot at the spark plug wires/ignition wiring plugs if the BMW doesn’t immediately fire up after being washed.

Question 3: Could be several things, but this seems to suggest worn strut mounts.  The replacements are dirt cheap, but don’t buy until you are sure that’s the problem.  A clean bill of health via mechanic’s diagnostic fee is worth the peace of mind, if you don’t trust your eyeballs when you remove the wheels and look for yourself.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Buick Envision Bound For US Market By Q3 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/buick-envision-bound-us-market-q3-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/buick-envision-bound-us-market-q3-2015/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927361 While the Chinese have Buick’s latest crossover, the Envision, to themselves for now, a plan is in the works to bring it over to the United States by Q3 2015 at the earliest. Edmunds reports the Envision would be offered in FWD and AWD configurations, with power to come from a four-cylinder engine with stop-start […]

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2015 Buick Envision - China Domestic Market

While the Chinese have Buick’s latest crossover, the Envision, to themselves for now, a plan is in the works to bring it over to the United States by Q3 2015 at the earliest.

Edmunds reports the Envision would be offered in FWD and AWD configurations, with power to come from a four-cylinder engine with stop-start technology on-board. The five-passenger crossover would slot between the Encore and Enclave when added to the U.S. market lineup.

Though GM remains silent for now, Buick-GMC vice president of sales Duncan Aldred says the Envision would find itself in “a big segment in the U.S.”

Should it arrive here, the crossover would go up against the likes of the Mercedes GLA-Class, Lincoln MKC and GMC Terrain, among others.

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Buick Envision Spied On The Eve Of Its Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/buick-envision-spied-eve-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/buick-envision-spied-eve-debut/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:18:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901778 Right before its debut at the Chengdu Auto Show, the Buick Envision was spied outside an exhibit hall as it prepares to make its debut in China, a crucial market that is hungry for both crossovers and Buick brand vehicles. Although the Envision is almost certain to make its way to North America, GM has […]

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buick-envision-china-11-660x433

Right before its debut at the Chengdu Auto Show, the Buick Envision was spied outside an exhibit hall as it prepares to make its debut in China, a crucial market that is hungry for both crossovers and Buick brand vehicles.

Although the Envision is almost certain to make its way to North America, GM has made no formal announcement of its arrival. Reports indicate that a Q2 2015 launch is likely, with the GM 2.5L 4-cylinder joining alongside the corporate 2.0T engine powering the Chinese version.

buick-envision-china-11-660x433 buick-envision-china-21-660x441

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Buick Shows Cascada To Dealers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/buick-shows-cascada-dealers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/buick-shows-cascada-dealers/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:18:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897178 With the departure of the Volkswagen Eos, Chrysler 200 Convertible and Volvo C30, Buick is looking to enter into the now dead front-drive four seat convertible segment. Buick dealers were recently shown a version of the Cascada, which is said to be arriving Stateside in 2016. According to GM Inside News, the Cascada will be […]

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Opel_Cascada_1.6_EDIT_Innovation_–_Frontansicht,_23._März_2014,_Düsseldorf

With the departure of the Volkswagen Eos, Chrysler 200 Convertible and Volvo C30, Buick is looking to enter into the now dead front-drive four seat convertible segment. Buick dealers were recently shown a version of the Cascada, which is said to be arriving Stateside in 2016.

According to GM Inside News, the Cascada will be powered by a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, and imported from Germany, rather than built Stateside. This would make it the second imported Buick, after the German-built Regal.

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GM China Drops More 2016 Buick Envision Photos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/gm-china-drops-2016-buick-envision-photos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/gm-china-drops-2016-buick-envision-photos/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881058 You saw it before; now see it with more clarity: GM China dropped a few more photos of its upcoming 2016 Buick Envision. CarNewsChina reports the SUV will debut in September during the Chengdu Auto Show prior to going on sale sometime in Q4 2014. Pricing will range between ¥160,000 and ¥220,000 ($26,000 – $35,000 […]

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buick-envision-china-1-660x400

You saw it before; now see it with more clarity: GM China dropped a few more photos of its upcoming 2016 Buick Envision.

CarNewsChina reports the SUV will debut in September during the Chengdu Auto Show prior to going on sale sometime in Q4 2014. Pricing will range between ¥160,000 and ¥220,000 ($26,000 – $35,000 USD), and will be positioned between the Encore and Enclave.

Moving the SUV will be a pair of 2-liter four-pots giving either 200 horsepower/207 ft-lb torque or 260 horsepower/268 ft-lb torque to all four corners through a six-speed automatic. However, GM China is working on a turbo 1.5-liter with 170 horses, as well as a hybrid based upon said turbocharged engine, though no word on when either will turn up under the bonnet.

[WRITER’S NOTE: I originally reported the Envision as being front-wheel drive when I should have noted it was all-wheel drive. My apologies for the error.]

buick-envision-china-1-660x400 buick-envision-china-2-660x437 buick-envision-china-3-660x438

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