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. Sat, 23 May 2015 15:11:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com QOTD: Which Manufacturer Has Most Lost Its Way? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-which-manufacturer-has-most-lost-its-way/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-which-manufacturer-has-most-lost-its-way/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071938 If someone mentions the name Buick, a certain image is conjured: comfortable, plush, American motoring just on the blue-collar side of luxury. Buicks used to be the working man’s Cadillac, an association doctors leveraged when making house calls. After all, showing up in a Cadillac would really show the patient how much you were about to […]

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2015 Buick Encore

If someone mentions the name Buick, a certain image is conjured: comfortable, plush, American motoring just on the blue-collar side of luxury. Buicks used to be the working man’s Cadillac, an association doctors leveraged when making house calls. After all, showing up in a Cadillac would really show the patient how much you were about to screw them upon leaving the bill on the nightstand.

But, in more recent times, Buick has become more of a Chevrolet+. Taut suspensions, journo brown interiors and lukewarm engine choices. Oh, and there’s the Encore, a cute ute powered by one of the roughest, smallest engines you can buy in North America. What gives?

Before people start thinking I’m on a General Motors focused tirade, there are a number of other marques out there as well that have seemingly “lost their way.”

Honda, for instance, used to be a technical powerhouse of gung-ho engineers turning efficiency into fun. Instead, we are given the CR-Z to chew on for years instead of a properly fun hatchback to act as the spiritual successor to the CRX.

Suzuki was another company that lost its appeal with customers as they chased larger and larger models. Sure, the Grand Vitara wasn’t a bad truck and the driving dynamics embodied by the Kizashi were fairly spot on. But, when the Samurai and Sidekick died, Suzuki abandoned the segment they were best known for: rough, tumble, pure off-roaders that were dead simple to own and operate.

Which manufacturer do you think has most lost its way?

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Arrival Of Buick Encore Twin Doesn’t Reduce Encore Demand – Encore Growth Continues Alongside Trax http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/arrival-buick-encore-twin-doesnt-reduce-encore-demand-encore-growth-continues-alongside-trax/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/arrival-buick-encore-twin-doesnt-reduce-encore-demand-encore-growth-continues-alongside-trax/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062226 U.S. sales of the Buick Encore have increased, on a year-over-year basis, in each of the last 16 months. That streak includes these last five months, a period in which a more affordable twin of the Encore, the Chevrolet Trax, has also been generating meaningful U.S. sales activity. Encore volume grew 31% in the five […]

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2015 Buick Encore

U.S. sales of the Buick Encore have increased, on a year-over-year basis, in each of the last 16 months. That streak includes these last five months, a period in which a more affordable twin of the Encore, the Chevrolet Trax, has also been generating meaningful U.S. sales activity.

Encore volume grew 31% in the five months preceding the Trax’s U.S. launch. Since the little Chevy’s arrival, not only has the Encore avoided a decline, the rate of its volume expansion has hardly slowed: Encore sales jumped 28% between the final month of 2014 and April 2015.

In fact, as General Motors attracted 7,477 sales with the less costly Trax in March and April, Buick reported the best month ever for the Encore in March and the second-best ever Encore performance in April, the latter being a slightly slower month for the overall auto industry.

5,650 Encore sales were reported by Buick in March; another 5,587 in April. Only once before – in March of last year – has Buick sold more than 5,000 Encores in a single month.

Encore Trax sales chartAs we reported back in March, the Encore, alone in its success at Buick, isn’t sufficiently powerful to overcome other losses at the brand. As Encore volume jumped 29% in April, for example, four other Buick nameplates combined for a 15% year-over-year decline. Encore included, Buick’s U.S. volume was still down 5% in April and 5% year-to-date. Even the Enclave, in a strong month for GM utilities and the Lambda platform (Traverse sales shot up 28%; Acadia sales jumped 40%), stumbled slightly with a 4% drop.

How strong a month? “April was GM’s best-ever month for crossover sales,” the company said in its release last Friday. Industry-wide utility vehicle sales were up 15% in April. GM’s nine crossover nameplates – Enclave, Encore, SRX, Equinox, Traverse, Trax, Acadia, Terrain, and the discontinued fleet-only Captiva Sport – increased their volume by 24% to 77,780 units, equal to 29% of the company’s total U.S. volume. (GM also sold 20,962 full-size SUVs.)

2015 Chevrolet Trax

The Trax and Encore aren’t a huge part of that production in the United States. Much talked about though the subcompact crossover segment continues to be, none of the contenders are huge volume generators. Yet. The group is expanding, and with the expansion of the group (Renegade, CX-3, HR-V, 500X), volume expands rapidly, as well. The Trax and Encore accounted for 12% of GM’s crossover volume in the automaker’s best-ever month for U.S. crossover sales. The Chevrolet Equinox, on the other hand, America’s second-best-selling utility vehicle last month, generated 37% of GM’s crossover volume thanks to a 42% YOY improvement. The Equinox’s GMC Terrain twin was only barely outsold by the Trax and Encore combined.

Including delivery fees, the Encore has a base price of $24,990. The Trax starts at $20,995. All-wheel-drive adds $1500 to the price in both cases.

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

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Buick Regal Tops Among Those Traded-In After One Year Of Ownership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 19:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062954 In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership. Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes […]

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2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Exterior-003

In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership.

Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes reports, with trade-in rates as high as 11 percent for a specific model.

The models brought back to the sales lot run the gamut, from $18,000 subcompacts to $45,000 luxury sedans. The Regal tops the list with 10.7 percent of owners exchanging their keys after a year, the Chevrolet Sonic takes second with 8.9 percent, and the BMW X1 at a close third with 7.8 percent. The Dodge Charger, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Frontier also make the list.

As for why the sudden change of heart, quality or the perception of quality played a key role; the aforementioned models were rated poorly by owners surveyed in J.D. Power’s 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Survey. ISeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly says those issues usually involve technology, such as connected-vehicle systems, voice command, and Bluetooth connection, and aren’t so much “problems” as they are difficulties with said technologies.

Those looking for a deal on those models will likely be happy with what they find on the used lot, though. The 2014 Regal with average mileage comes with a price tag 32.2 percent less than new, while the C-Class and Charger lost 31.0 percent and 28.4 percent in new-car value after a year, respectively.

[Photo credit: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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2015 Buick LaCrosse Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052529 My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries […]

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2015 Buick Lacrosse

My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries from In-N-Out picked up at midnight. My daily driver is a 2002 BMW 530i, one of the best BMWs ever made. My favorite movie is American Graffiti, a film which involves plenty of loud exhausts, racing on city streets, and a 30-year-old Harrison attempting to pass for a teenager. And I liked my Buick LaCrosse test car.

“He likes the Buick LaCrosse?!” you might think. “But he’s a millennial! He drives a BMW! He’s likely glued to his smartphone all day! He probably doesn’t know what DOS is! ” And I do have a few of those “millennial” characteristics. I don’t like wearing cardigans, playing golf nearly every afternoon, or eating dinner at 5:30 pm. I don’t drive 5-10 mph slower than everyone else. I don’t look forward to moving into a retirement community at any point in my life, though I am looking forward to the senior discounts at the movie theater, when renting a car, and at Ben and Jerry’s. (Those savings really add up. Like enough to buy another smartphone.)

2015 Buick Lacrosse

But I like the Buick LaCrosse. Yes. Really. I like it. I like the fact I don’t have to brace myself for upcoming bumps on California highways. [What? You have those? -Canada] I like that I’m not a target for any highway patrol officers. I like that the head-up display gives me all the necessary information without having to look at the screen in the center console. I like that it’s quiet enough on the highway so I can listen to “Unbelievers” on the 11-speaker Bose sound system without a pothole interrupting the high notes. I like that it has enough sensors to drastically minimize whatever chances I have of getting in a car accident. I like that OnStar can back me up if I get hopelessly lost and my phone can’t find a signal. I think it even looks good.

Now, the first thing I’ll discuss regarding my Buick LaCrosse test car is its price. It was more than you would expect. Try $45,955. Yes, it was about the same price as a Lincoln MKS, base-level Audi A6 2.0T, Lexus ES350, or a fairly loaded Hyundai Genesis V6. For that price, you would expect plenty of tech features crammed into the car, a powerful engine, large wheels, free maintenance, and a day of dunking lessons with Shaquille O’Neal. The LaCrosse had all of that, with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 304 horsepower, 20-inch wheels, two years of free scheduled maintenance, and so many tech features I’d need an entire paragraph to list them. Sadly, dunking lessons with Shaq aren’t on the Monroney sticker, likely because customers might ask for free throw lessons, too.

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Engine

The options on my test car included a head-up display, a blind spot warning system, a lane departure warning system, HID lights, a rear cross traffic alert system (which works surprisingly well when backing out of a driveway), a sensor which indicates the distance between my car and the car in front, and a forward collision alert system. All of those features I just listed are part of the $2,125 “Driver Confidence Package #1.” There was also a “Driver Confidence Package #2” on my test car that provided adaptive cruise control and front automatic braking, the latter a perfect feature for the modern millennial distracted by his or her smartphone. Additionally, since my LaCrosse had the Premium II trim level, it came standard with a Bose sound system, heated and cooled front seats, navigation, a keyless entry and ignition system, XM radio, 6 months of full OnStar Coverage, and 5 years of the OnStar base coverage.

One feature that Buick and General Motors advertise heavily is OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi connectivity included with all 2015 LaCrosses. It can connect to up to seven devices as long as they are within 50 feet of the car, like phones, tablets, laptops, refrigerators, coffee makers, GoPro cameras, microwaves, etc. Buick offers a 3 month or 3 GB data trial of the OnStar 4G LTE service, after which customers must sign up for a data plan ranging from $5 to $50 a month for 200 MB to 5 GB, similar to those for phones. According to OnStar’s website, AT&T customers can add the car to their wireless share plan for an extra $10 a month. The Onstar 4G LTE ended up being one of the many features I didn’t sample, since I had a smartphone with a data plan and streaming American Graffiti perhaps would’ve used up the data allocation.

The LaCrosse drove surprisingly well. Since my prior experience with Buick involved a 1990s LeSabre that exhibited tire squeal and an extraordinary amount of body roll during “spirited” driving, I wasn’t prepared for how well the LaCrosse could stick to the road in corners and power out of them. If I needed power, the V6 provided enough pull and it was immediate. The car had a sport mode (I only used it once; it detracts from the driving experience) that adjusted the shift points and allowed the transmission to stay in a gear until it hit a higher rpm. Furthermore, the car had real-time damping and Hi-Per Strut suspension which I’m sure helped the ride and handling dramatically despite the 20-inch wheels. During my week with the car, I drove it down the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Big Sur and had no complaints.

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Interior

Inside, the Buick was a very quiet and pleasant place. The controls were very easy to use, especially when operating the climate control or tuning the radio. I liked that I could rest my arm on the gear selector knob when reaching to tune the radio. The head-up display was very sharp, especially at night, but it wasn’t as good as BMW’s head-up display where one can easily scroll through radio stations and whose display is much more readable when facing directly into the sun. In the back, there was plenty of legroom and access to a 120 volt outlet, presumably for charging laptops to use the onboard 4G connection. An aspect of the interior I didn’t like were the thick A-pillars, which affect visibility and take some getting used to. Additionally, the LaCrosse was difficult to parallel park without the help of the rear camera, hearing the warning of the sensors, the feeling the vibration of the seats if you were getting too close. (The seats also vibrated if there were cars passing by when backing out of my driveway.)

When I had the Buick, thanks to a lot of highway driving, I managed to get around 24.5 miles per gallon during. However, fuel economy in the city, thanks to the 3.6-liter V6, wasn’t very good, especially once I hit stoplights where the indicated fuel economy would go down a few tenths. If fuel economy is a major concern for you, there is the option of a 2.4-liter inline-four with eAssist (a mild hybrid system fitted to the powertrain) which enables the LaCrosse to get an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Jack Baruth had the eAssist-ed LaCrosse last year and managed over 31 mpg with the car while describing the powertrain as “satisfactory.” (He drove it around New Jersey Motorsports Park too, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

Buick has for a while been my favorite out of all of the General Motors brands. In the past, people drove Buicks rather than Cadillacs when they didn’t want to come across as having plenty of money or as being ostentatious. After a week with the LaCrosse, I feel the same. While your neighbors will be attempting to one up each other with the latest from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus, you can have the Buick LaCrosse in the driveway and feel absolutely satisfied. With the Buick, you’ll have something comfortable, simple to use, and much less expensive with the same toys as cars commanding $10,000 to $20,000 more. When your coworkers rave about the blind spot warning, head-up display, and active cruise control systems in their cars, you’ll be fine knowing your car has the same systems.

And above all, you won’t be a target for law enforcement, you won’t have to complain of discomfort after long trips, and you will get away with wearing the cardigan you’ve always wanted.

Buick provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas for the road test.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s currently taking golf lessons in between attempting to qualify for GT Academy.

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Oshawa Camaro Production Ceases November 20, Reduced To Three Shifts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/oshawa-camaro-production-ceases-november-20-reduced-three-shifts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/oshawa-camaro-production-ceases-november-20-reduced-three-shifts/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 17:50:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1057122 First announced December 19, 2012, GM Canada’s Oshawa Assembly facility will officially cease production of the Camaro on November 20, 2015 in conjunction with the car’s next generation, GM announced today. Camaro production remained at the Oshawa plant a year longer than initially promised in 2012. Assembly shifts will be reduced from four to three […]

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2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible at the Oshawa Assembly Plant

First announced December 19, 2012, GM Canada’s Oshawa Assembly facility will officially cease production of the Camaro on November 20, 2015 in conjunction with the car’s next generation, GM announced today. Camaro production remained at the Oshawa plant a year longer than initially promised in 2012.

Assembly shifts will be reduced from four to three between the “Flex” and “Consolidated” lines. Currently, the “Flex” line is on three shifts while the smaller line is on one shift. GM Canada will “begin a voluntary retirement canvass” to reduce worker head count before implementing any layoffs. GM Canada President, Stephen K. Carlisle, stated “60 percent of our hourly workforce are nearing retirement” age and the company will offer incentives to eligible employees looking to retire early.

Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS production will continue on the “Flex” line for now. Regal production is scheduled to move to Germany by 2017 while the XTS will be discontinued at the end of its lifecycle in 2019. Both the XTS and Impala are also produced in Michigan. The “Consolidated” line currently builds the Impala Limited – a previous-generation W-body sedan – and the Chevrolet Equinox, the latter which is also produced in Ingersoll, Ontario.

GM Canada and Unifor are working together to “examine a range of longer-term opportunities and competitiveness enhancements for Oshawa Assembly,” stated the release today. The future of Oshawa will be announced after Unifor national bargaining next year.

On the same day, GM also announced $5.4b in investments aimed at the company’s Pontiac, Lansing, and Warren, Michigan facilities.

The announcement comes after GM Canada committed $800m to Ingersoll and another 100 jobs toward expanding connected car and green technology development at GM Canada’s Oshawa Engineering Centre.

 

 

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Shanghai 2015: Buick Verano Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shanghai-2015-buick-verano-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shanghai-2015-buick-verano-debuts/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1048521 Aimed at those “who value a personal and dynamic driving experience,” the next-gen Buick Verano debuted at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show. Power for the sedan comes from a 1.5-liter direct-injection turbo-four stated to be the most powerful engine in General Motors’ Ecotec family. Output amounts to 166 horses and 184 lb-ft of torque, all […]

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Buick Verano - Shanghai 2015

Aimed at those “who value a personal and dynamic driving experience,” the next-gen Buick Verano debuted at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show.

Power for the sedan comes from a 1.5-liter direct-injection turbo-four stated to be the most powerful engine in General Motors’ Ecotec family. Output amounts to 166 horses and 184 lb-ft of torque, all of which is directed to the front via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission specially adapted for road conditions in China. Fuel economy is 6.1 liters per every 100 kilometers.

The Verano’s styling draws from both the 2013 Riviera and 2014 Avenir concepts, such as the Avenir-esque, wing-shaped high-intensity discharge xenon headlamps with daytime LEDs and matching LEDs in the rear. A fastback roof, steeply raked windshield and “streamlined” C-pillars make the sedan appear longer than it actually is — no dimension figures were given at this time — while its double-sweep beltline give the Verano a sculpted appearance.

Other features include: 17-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wheels shod in Continentals; start-stop; signature Buick waterfall grill; and dual integrated inset exhaust.

The Verano is the newest vehicle in Buick’s Chinese market lineup meant to address the needs of customers in the midsize sedan segment, following the Excelle and Excelle GT.

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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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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.

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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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