The Truth About Cars » LaCrosse http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 13 Dec 2014 16:45:38 +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 » LaCrosse http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Cadillac Flagship, Redesigned LaCrosse To Be Made In Detroit By 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798938 In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt. Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — […]

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2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt.

Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — currently assembled in Fairfax, Kan. — joining the flagship in 2016 for the latter’s next redesign.

Though GM hasn’t said much about the flagship, industry insiders claim the vehicle will be aimed at the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class, and may be priced as much as $100,000.

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New Or Used? : What Isn’t Better Than A Panther Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-or-used-what-isnt-better-than-a-panther-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-or-used-what-isnt-better-than-a-panther-edition/#comments Fri, 12 Apr 2013 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484419 TJ writes: Hey Sajeev and Steve, Need your assistance for a fellow panther lover (my aunt) who is going to be looking for a new ride this fall. She currently has a Mercury Grand Marquis (her second or third) and loves the car and would replace it with another in a heartbeat if they were […]

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TJ writes:

Hey Sajeev and Steve,

Need your assistance for a fellow panther lover (my aunt) who is going to be looking for a new ride this fall.

She currently has a Mercury Grand Marquis (her second or third) and loves the car and would replace it with another in a heartbeat if they were still for sale.  If you’re asking why she’s getting rid of it, there isn’t any particular reason.

My aunt always replaces her cars ever 3-5 years (so B&B please no exhortations to keep the car, that was my original advice and it isn’t happening) and this one is coming up on it’s expiration date.  A word about my mother’s family so you realize how committed they are to this sort of car: My mom is one of 4 sisters, and between them, they’ve owned (at least) 2 Cadillac Devilles, 2 Eldorados, the aforementioned MGMs, a Buick Lesabre or Park Ave, and a Lincoln Town Car.  You get the idea.  They like them big, floaty, with a cavernous trunk, and preferably with a leather couch or recliner in the front.

I’m gonna try to take her to the Miami auto show this fall so she can see sample all her options at once, but wanted to see if you had any guidance.  Of the new cars that will be on offer, what is the next best thing to her beloved Panther?  My aunt realizes most people have migrated to SUVs/CUVs, but she says they won’t work because she finds them too difficult to climb in and out of (she’s 65 and barely over 5′ tall).

My first two suggestions were shot down, which were a Chrysler 300 (does’t like the styling) and a Chrysler Town and Country (doesn’t want a minivan).  I still hope that maybe sitting in the 300, or seeing the versatility of the T&C may change her mind (she has two still growing grandkids).  The next best option I could think of was the Ford Flex, with the Taurus being a distant 4th.  Any other suggestions?

I’ll have her look at the LaCrosse, Genesis, Azera, Avalon, and ES350, but I’m concerned they will be too small and/or not cushy enough, and the Cadillac XTS may be too pricey and not torquey enough.  While she is a 65 year old Grandmother, after 20 years of Ford 4.6 and GM 3800 ownership, she’s also used to lazy, effortless low end grunt helping her force her way through South Florida’s insane traffic, and I know the XTS has been hit hard in reviews for its combination of a peaky engine, high curb weight, and tall gearing.  Have I missed any other worthwhile options?  Thanks for your help.

Steve Says:

Every model you mentioned from the Lacrosse to the ES350 offers more overall interior space than the ol’ Grand. Though they all fall short of the Panther when it comes to the, “Why the hell would anyone buy a new one?” factor.

As for the ride, the Hyundai models ride a bit more taut than the others. So scratch those two.

The LaCrosse would be a good blue plate special car for her given her apparent apathy for quality interior components. But I would check to see if the interior design agrees with her first.

The ES350 is wonderful, but steep. If your Aunt has a liking for large Marge levels of interior space and a floaty ride, I would strike a deal for the outgoing prior gen Avalon. It also has a cost contained interior that is thankfully two clicks above the last Grand Marquis redesign, and you may be able to cut her a good deal.

Then again, the Shoney’s capital of the world may not offer much in the ways of discounts for a Camry-esque product.

I understand your kvetching about this expenditure. My own mom has that same Floridian ailment that is replacing a perfectly good car for no other reason than the changing of the tides. Every ten years I buy her a new Camry. Why? Beats me. However the depreciation works out to only about $150 a month. For what works out to $5 a day, I can deal with it.

I would focus on helping her with the selling of her car and the negotiation process, if she desires your help, and start with having her rent a Buick LaCrosse for the day. You may be able to find an Avalon for rent as well. This is Florida after all. Give her a couple days to make the decision, and remember to be a mensch when she picks that aqua blue model with the glossy white vinyl roof.

Sajeev Says:

I’m glad to hear she doesn’t like the 300: not because it’s a horrible vehicle, but because it doesn’t personify the values present in Panther Love.  Those proper American Sedans doing their job since the 1950s. That’s history, and that’s okay.  Now she needs to learn to compromise…somewhere.

Aside from a CPO Mercedes with some sort of thumpin’ V8 under the hood, there’s nothing in play that’s torquey enough to be a contender in the motor and styling department.  Make sure she test drives all the cars mentioned above, but there are two machines for me in this situation: the Toyota Avalon and the Camry LE. Yup, the LE.

Granted, I haven’t driven a new Camry yet, and I didn’t like the previous model (because we still had Panthers back then) but this is probably the best machine for a numb, floaty, and isolating cabin.  The Avalon? Perhaps better, but maybe not enough to justify the price.

I once grudgingly admitted that my last trip through NY, NJ and PA was far more pleasant because the (last gen) Camry LE (with those tall sidewalls) did a good job obliterating every bump on the road. While it wasn’t that unique blend of isolating-while-inspiring-confidence like RWD Panther Love, it worked. Aside from the lack of torque, the Camry might be the best bet here.  And I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

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The Mild Hybrid Is Back… At Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/the-mild-hybrid-is-back-at-buick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/the-mild-hybrid-is-back-at-buick/#comments Tue, 16 Nov 2010 02:39:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=372968 According to a GM press release, the 2012 model-year version of the Buick LaCrosse is dragging a skeleton out of the GM marketing closet: the mild hybrid. But don’t you dare use the “m” word… it’s the eAssist. Mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission, the eAssist system […]

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According to a GM press release, the 2012 model-year version of the Buick LaCrosse is dragging a skeleton out of the GM marketing closet: the mild hybrid. But don’t you dare use the “m” word… it’s the eAssist.

Mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission, the eAssist system uses power stored in the battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:

  • Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
  • Providing up to 11 kW (15 hp) of electric power assistance during acceleration
  • Automatic engine shut-off when the vehicle is stopped
  • Aggressive fuel cut-off during deceleration down to zero vehicle speed, enabled by the torque smoothing provided by the motor-generator unit
  • Intelligent charge/discharge of the high-voltage battery.

But most importantly:

While the eAssist system shares the same basic belt-alternator-starter configuration of previous BAS designs, it delivers more than three times the power and is much more capable than the previous-generation BAS system.

Buick says this will be the standard powertrain option for the LaCrosse starting in 2012, and along with aero and tire tweaks will loft the model’s mileage to (shout it) 37 MPG highway and (whisper it) 25 city. The price: 65 lbs and a $2k-$3k sticker increase to “about $30,000″.  The Lacrosse has sold well this year (by recent Buick standards… 52k sales year-to-date), and the LaCrosse’s average transaction price is reportedly sitting at $32k… but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a gamble. The question now: will GM also drop a two-mode hybrid in the LaCrosse as threatened?

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Review: 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS HiPer Strut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/review-2010-buick-lacrosse-cxs-hiper-strut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/review-2010-buick-lacrosse-cxs-hiper-strut/#comments Wed, 09 Jun 2010 20:18:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=358547 Even more than the Cadillac SRX reviewed last week, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse reflects Bob Lutz’s influence at GM. Soon after assuming responsibility for the corporation’s new product development in 2001, Lutz deemed the styling of the original Buick LaCrosse, recently approved for production, unfit for sale. The car was sent back to the designers […]

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Even more than the Cadillac SRX reviewed last week, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse reflects Bob Lutz’s influence at GM. Soon after assuming responsibility for the corporation’s new product development in 2001, Lutz deemed the styling of the original Buick LaCrosse, recently approved for production, unfit for sale. The car was sent back to the designers for late revisions to the front end, delaying its launch by over a year. But not much could be done so late in the process. What would the LaCrosse be like if Lutz could oversee its entire development? With redesigned and re-engineered 2010 Buick LaCrosse we now have an answer.

I previously reviewed the Buick LaCrosse in CXL AWD form. This time around I spent a week with a LaCrosse CXS that differed from the earlier car in two notable ways: a more powerful 3.6-liter V6 (instead of a 3.0) and GM’s new “HiPer Strut” front suspension (a midyear change).

Lutz’s most notable act at GM was to return a high degree of autonomy to the designers, freeing them from the constraints imposed by engineering and manufacturing, the short-sighted meddling of marketing, and the time and budget restraints of product line executives. So the new Buick LaCrosse should look great, and for the most part it does. The designers did very well with the tall, cab forward body structure they were given—even with Lutz they clearly didn’t have an entirely clean sheet of paper to work from. While the front fender line would ideally be a little lower, as executed the curvaceous exterior has presence, catches your eye, and is clearly a Buick from stem to stern. This ain’t no rebadge. The LaCrosse looks special.

The artful curves continue inside the car. The door-mounted armrests and the smooth transition from the door panels to the instrument panel are especially nicely done. Real stitching molded into these panels, sufficiently convincing faux wood, and extensive ambient lighting contribute to an upscale ambiance. Lutz’s push for richer materials has had mixed results. Unlike in some recent Cadillacs, even the lower door panels are padded. But the center console and the switchgear still don’t look or feel quite as nice as those in the Audis Lutz upheld as benchmarks or the Lexus Buick hopes to steal buyers from. It might have Acura beat, though.

Unfortunately, giving designers so much power also has downsides. The thick chrome band around the center stack sometimes reflects bright sunlight directly into the driver’s eyes. The prominent console and curves that look so good detract from perceived roominess—it remains to be seen whether GM can offer an Epsilon-based sedan that feels roomy. The fashionably high beltline and ultra-wide pillars (why?) severely constrict the driver’s sight lines, especially in turns. They also bury preteens in the basement-like back seat. The artful curve of the center stack into the center console looks sharp, but it positions the shifter too far rearward. Driving the LaCrosse with one’s hand on the shifter requires a rightward twist. Design might not have driven the number of buttons, but there are too many that look too much alike.

As in pretty much every GM car in recent memory, the front seats could be better. They provide a fair amount of lateral support, but only after considerable fiddling with the power adjustments, which include four-way lumbar, did I find a setting that was passably comfortable. Even then the ultra-firm head restraint juts too far forward. Other manufacturers manage to combine much less intrusive headrests with good safety scores. This isn’t a good place to opt for the lowest-cost solution. The rear seat, a bit low to the floor in the traditional GM manner, offers plenty of room for legs, but not so much for shoulders. The trunk would be narrow regardless, but fully encapsulating the conventional hinges further constricts it.

Disregard the mere ten-percent difference in the peak horsepower. The Buick LaCrosse CXS’s 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 spins the front wheels all too easily. It feels far stronger and sounds much better than the CXL’s 252-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. The difference in torque is more substantial, 259 vs. 217 pound-feet, and the LaCrosse’s two-ton curb weight is a poor match for the relatively torque-free 3.0. Yet for 2010 all-wheel-drive, which adds another 170 pounds, was only available with the 3.0. With the 2011 car this mistake will be rectified—the 3.0 will be exiled and only the 3.6 will be offered with all-wheel-drive. Better late than never, but how did the 3.0 ever make it out of the gate during Lutz’s watch? Did the car blow through its curb weight targets, and yet no one reconsidered the powertrain plan? Lutz has acknowledged that curb weight became a low priority during his quest to improve the cars, and that his successors must now work hard to take the pounds off. Even so, why not offer all-wheel-drive with the 3.6 from the start? EPA fuel economy ratings? Perhaps, but in general the 3.6 has earned equal or better EPA ratings than the 3.0.

Putting 259 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels is a recipe for torque steer. And, with the MacPherson strut front suspension fitted at intro, it was more than just hypothetical. The tested car was fitted with GM’s oddly named HiPer Strut front suspension, a midyear change. With this suspension design, the upper steering pivot moves from the strut mount to a ball joint located outboard of the strut. This yields a more vertical “kingpin” axis about which the wheel and tire revolve as the steering wheel is turned, a reduced offset between this axis and the tire’s contact patch, and a reduced scrub radius (the distance between where this axis hits the road and the tire’s contact patch). In theory, this should reduce torque steer, improve grip in turns, and improve steering precision but also increase steering effort at low speeds and reduce steering feel.

To study the real-world differences, I dropped by a dealer to test drive a LaCrosse CXS with the old suspension. Steering effort at low speeds isn’t notably affected—no doubt the level of assist has been tweaked to compensate. There’s not much steering feel with HiPer Strut, but there also isn’t much with the old suspension. In either case there’s a slight amount of slop, and you only learn of tire slip from your ears.. Torque steer is all but eliminated, though the nose does continue to feel like it wants to wander this way and that under hard acceleration. This is probably a matter of weight distribution and suspension tuning rather than suspension geometry. Even in CXS trim the LaCrosse’s suspension is relatively soft, so under hard acceleration the car squats and weight transfers off the nose. HiPer Strut does keep the tire’s contact patch more parallel to the road surface as it moves up and down over bumps and in turns. With it the car feels more planted and stable.

Alas, planted and stable are not the same as fun and sporty. I also dropped by dealers to compare the Nissan Maxima and Acura TL. Each has unfortunate exterior styling, and the Nissan’s interior looks and feels much cheaper than the others. But either car provides a much more engaging and entertaining driving experience, the Nissan’s abundant torque steer notwithstanding (the TL avoided the same via SH-AWD). Credit driving positions that provide a clearer view over the hood (sportily bumped up over the wheels in the Nissan’s case) and that seem to place the driver closer to the action. Also credit powertrains and steering systems that react much more quickly and sharply to driver inputs and tauter suspensions. In terms of cornering speeds the HiPer Strut Buick compares well, but the Nissan and Acura feel sportier and are simply much more fun to drive. Buick doesn’t do “visceral.” For mainstream drivers this could well be a plus. But not for driving enthusiasts.

The LaCrosse does gain back some points for ride quality, as it soaks up bumps much better than either the TL or the Maxima. Still there’s some tire clomping (but there’s more of both it and other noise in the other cars) and some fore-aft pitching (generally absent from the other cars, which react to the same bumps with a sharper but quicker and more vertical jolt). The impact of the pitching is magnified by two factors. The Buick’s head-up display is very helpful when manually shifting the six-speed automatic, as it displays not only the vehicle speed but also the engine speed and the current gear. (Bonus: song titles when they change.) But when the car pitches over bumps, the HUD dances up and down, and you’re tracking the bouncing ball. Worse, if you’re built like me then each time the car pitches over a frost heave that overly firm, overly far forward head restraint smacks you in the back of the head. On roads with lumpy surfaces this gets old quickly.

The LaCrosse with the MacPherson strut suspension was also fitted with the optional Touring Package, which includes more attractive, one-inch larger wheels (19s instead of 18s) and auto-adjusting shocks. Theoretically, these shocks should improve both handling and ride quality. Perhaps the lower profile treads were to blame, but while the Touring Package improves the appearance of the car it yields a busier, harsher ride and provides no evident handling benefit to compensate.

The conclusion with the new Buick LaCrosse is much the same as it was for the new Cadillac SRX. In both cases we have attractive styling, a richer interior ambiance, and improved refinement coupled to too many pounds, poor visibility, and an insufficiently visceral driving experience. Design has clearly benefited from Lutz’s influence, but by giving it more power relative to other groups, not by enabling and encouraging all functions to work better together towards the shared goal of an all-around better car. HiPer strut does improve the Buick LaCrosse’s handling, but doesn’t transform the character of the car. For the potential of this innovative suspension to be realized, it must be paired with quicker, sharper steering and a more agile chassis. Lutz has often been heralded as the ultimate car guy, but like the car guys from GM’s glory years seems to have focused more on how cars look than on what they’re like to sit in and drive. Now that GM has fixed the styling, perhaps they can provide more attention to the driving experience.

GM provided the press-fleet vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of vehicle pricing and reliability data.

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Review: 2011 Buick Regal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/review-2011-buick-regal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/review-2011-buick-regal/#comments Wed, 12 May 2010 17:25:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356291 With Pontiac and Saturn gone, Buick must assume a larger role within General Motors. It must now seek to win over enthusiasts who would have previously bought Pontiacs and the import-intenders who previously bought Saturns. The first product to follow from this expanded mission: the new 2011 Buick Regal. The Regal began life as the […]

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With Pontiac and Saturn gone, Buick must assume a larger role within General Motors. It must now seek to win over enthusiasts who would have previously bought Pontiacs and the import-intenders who previously bought Saturns. The first product to follow from this expanded mission: the new 2011 Buick Regal. The Regal began life as the Opel Insignia—it will even be imported from Germany for the first year—and was to be marketed in the United States as the second-generation Saturn Aura. But it has been available in China as the Buick Regal for over a year now, so putting the tri-shield on the grille isn’t entirely an afterthought. This isn’t even the first time Opel has manufactured a car for Buick dealers—this tie goes way back. Even so, is the Regal a plausible Buick?

When I first saw the new Regal, in China, it really stood out. But the Chinese still get the rest of the world’s hand-me-downs. The circa 1985 MkII Volkswagen Jetta continues to be sold as a new car there, and decade-old designs are common. So recently designed cars tend to stand out. In the American context, the Regal blends. Yes, it’s handsome, but the same can be said for other clean, chunkily-proportioned, Audi-influenced sedans. The Suzuki Kizashi comes to mind. Thanks to a basically curvy shape, the Opel Insignia looks much more like a Buick than the similarly imported Opel Omega looked like a Cadillac, but this isn’t saying much. Within the Buick family, the Regal has been stuck with the role of Jan. Those seeking a distinctively styled car that is clearly a Buick will opt to date the family’s Marcia, the LaCrosse.

Inside the new Regal, the story is the same, with a more conventional, more straightforward design than you’ll find in the LaCrosse. Materials are better than the GM norm, and are certainly a step or two up from those in the Saturn Aura, but aren’t quite up to those in the Acuras and Audis GM hopes to steal buyers from. White stitching on the seats and upholstered door panel inserts and numerous chrome details provide welcome contrast within the “ebony” (i.e. black) interior—though the thick chrome shifter surround might be a bit much. Unlike in the LaCrosse, there is no stitching on the instrument panel or the upper door panels. The various elements of the IP cohere and flow together much better than they did in the Saturn Aura this car was to replace. Piano black trim runs along the base of the windshield to trace a continuous arc from door to door and also flows down into the center console from a band that runs mid-level across the instrument panel. For those who find the dark interior overly dark—and many potential buyers likely will, despite the contrasting bits—Buick offers a two-tone cocoa/cashmere interior with faux wood trim.

The Regal’s relatively conventional interior design pays functional dividends. Thanks to the car’s lower instrument panel and thinner (but still not thin) pillars, it’s much easier to see out of the Regal than the LaCrosse. The shifter is better positioned. And the various controls are easier to reach—though in the Regal as in the button-laden LaCrosse it’s often a challenge to find the one you’re looking for.

Oddly, while Cadillac no longer offers 4-way power lumbar adjustments in the CTS or SRX, Buick offers this feature in both the Regal and the LaCrosse. And yet the Regal’s moderately firm front seats aren’t especially comfortable, and only a German might find them luxurious. It doesn’t help that the headrests are very firm and jut too far forward in the interest of cheap whiplash protection. The bolsters provide a bit of lateral support, but in the GM fashion are too widely spaced for the average driver. Sure, the same could be said about the seats in a number of competing cars—it’s not easy finding great seats. But seats used to be a Buick focus.

Compared to the LaCrosse, the Regal rides on a four-inch-shorter wheelbase and, at just over 190 inches in length, is nearly seven inches shorter overall. These dimensional differences most impact rear seat room. While the LaCrosse offers 40.5 inches of rear legroom, the Regal provides 37.3, about average for a midsize car. Six-footers will fit, but the flat rear seat cushion is mounted far too low to provide thigh support—blame the fashionably arched roofline. One welcome premium feature: rear air vents.

Jan always was more practical than Marcia. So perhaps it should not come as a surprise that, with 14.2 cubic feet of cargo volume, Regal actually has a slightly larger trunk than the LaCrosse. In both cars GM opted for conventional gooseneck hinges, then fully encased the paths taken by these hinges to yield an especially narrow space. Why? Just to save a few dollars per car? Those who like big butts trunks will go elsewhere.

Partly to differentiate the Regal from the LaCrosse, Buick won’t offer the smaller sedan with a V6. The only engine currently available: a 182-horsepower direct-injected 2.4-liter. At 3,600 pounds, the new Regal could stand to lose a few (hundred), but the normally-aspirated four moves two tons (with driver and passenger) well enough in typical around town driving, and without making noises unbecoming a Buick. Most drivers won’t feel the need for more power.

For those who do, a 220-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four will arrive in the fall. Initially, as with the 2.4, a manually-shiftable six-speed automatic that isn’t always the smoothest operator is the only transmission. A six-speed manual will be available “for order” with the turbo in late 2010—don’t expect dealers to stock any. The turbo gets a different steering system that adds variable assist and adaptive shocks with “sport” and “tour” settings will be optional. Farther into the future a Regal GS will combine a 255-horsepower turbo four with a six-speed manual and all-wheel-drive. What do you know, Buick is seriously pitching this car at enthusiasts.

To an even greater degree than the specs suggest, the Regal feels more compact and lighter than the LaCrosse. The steering is a little heavier, feels tighter and more precise, and provides more feedback. There’s more body roll than in the performance-oriented LaCrosse CXS, but also a smoother, more composed ride. Chassis tuning is a Regal strongpoint—something not typically expected from Buick. When it’s taken up a notch with the turbo and manual transmission, the Regal should prove a very fun car to drive.

For the first year, because it will be imported from high-cost Germany, the Regal will only be offered in mid-level CXL trim. The starting price of $26,995 jumps to $28,840 when you add the tested car’s sunroof and Convenience Package (power passenger seat, rear obstacle detection, AC outlet). A V6-powered LaCrosse CXL is about $2,500 more, according to TrueDelta.com’s car price comparison. A similarly-equipped four-cylinder Honda Accord? About $500 less sticker-to-sticker, and about $1,800 less invoice-to-invoice—Buick dealers have much less margin to play with. Adjusting for the Regal’s higher content cuts the difference by about $600.

Buick would rather you compare the Regal to the Acura TSX. Do this and you’ll find that the Buick is about $1,300 less sticker-to-sticker, but only about $600 less invoice-to-invoice. The Buick has about $200 in additional content. So it appears that the Regal isn’t badly priced, but also isn’t likely to sell based on price. 

The Regal CXL Turbo will start at $29,495, but aside from the turbo this price will also include the $845 Convenience Package. So the turbo adds a very reasonable $1,655, and will undercut a similarly equipped Volkswagen CC, the closest European competitor, by about $4,000.

Overall, the new Regal looks and feels more like an Audi (with VW materials) than a Buick, while being priced midway between Honda and Acura. It’s a solid car with large number of standard features and a very good ride-handling compromise. But does it have what it takes to bring people who never saw themselves driving a Buick into Buick showrooms? As much as a German car at Japanese prices has a certain appeal, it’s perhaps too subtle. This formula certainly didn’t work with the Saturn Astra. More of the LaCrosse’s style or of the luxury for which Buick has traditionally been known would help. Or perhaps adding boost will do the trick, at least for those who enjoy driving? We’ll find out later this year.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Six Of One, Half Dozen Of The Other Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other-edition/#comments Sun, 28 Mar 2010 20:06:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=350593 Buick’s LaCrosse is dropping its little-loved 3.0 V6 base engine in favor GM’s direct-injected 2.4 liter four-banger, probably so it can use the magic term “3o MPG highway” in forthcoming marketing. The downsides? You mean, besides having to move over 4,000 lbs with a 182 hp, 172 lb-ft engine (compared to the 3.0’s 255 hp, […]

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Buick’s LaCrosse is dropping its little-loved 3.0 V6 base engine in favor GM’s direct-injected 2.4 liter four-banger, probably so it can use the magic term “3o MPG highway” in forthcoming marketing. The downsides? You mean, besides having to move over 4,000 lbs with a 182 hp, 172 lb-ft engine (compared to the 3.0’s 255 hp, 217 lb-ft)? How about the fact that it brings the LaCrosse even closer to the forthcoming Regal? Buicks have long suffered from the fact that consumers see them as “Buicks,” rather than distinctive models, and cramped positioning like this is the reason why. But hey, someone’s got to make up for lost Pontiac volume at the Buick-GMC dealerships, so why not sell two cars on the same platform, starting at the same price point? Meanwhile, the Regal Turbo will not be available until the fourth quarter, and Regals with navigation won’t start to be built until the end of April. Buick’s sales are improving, but it’s still suffering from a number of very familiar Old GM symptoms.

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Cadillac XTS: The Phantom Flagship http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/cadillac-xts-the-phantom-flagship/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/cadillac-xts-the-phantom-flagship/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 15:46:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341529 The Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept, which debuts today at the NAIAS, is a look at the new Cadillac flagship which goes into production in early 2012. The XTS’s brief is to replace the moribund DTS and STS sedans, a task that Cadillac desperately needs done properly if it wants to be taken seriously as a […]

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2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

The Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept, which debuts today at the NAIAS, is a look at the new Cadillac flagship which goes into production in early 2012. The XTS’s brief is to replace the moribund DTS and STS sedans, a task that Cadillac desperately needs done properly if it wants to be taken seriously as a luxury competitor. So why is the XTS concept little more than a glorified Buick LaCrosse?

2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum ConceptThe XTS has the exact same 111.7 inch wheelbase as its LaCrosse cousin, bringing it in several inches shorter than the “entry” Cadillac, the CTS. This is no surprise, considering the XTS will be built on an AWD version of the same Epsilon II platform that underpins the LaCrosse, Regal and Saab 9-5. We had heard that a stretched “Super Epsilon” platform was being developed by Holden, but based the dimensions of the XTS, it seems clear that this is a plain-Jane midsized GM sedan under the skin.

To make up for the pedestrian underpinnings, Cadillac designers stretched the XTS out to 203.5 inches. The fact that much of the extra length is in the rear overhang might be Caddy’s attempt at fixing the EpsiII’s legendary trunk shortcomings. One thing is for certain: a LaCrosse with more weight and longer overhangs isn’t going to exactly embody the dynamic-forward, BMW-competing brand values Cadillac is supposed to be cultivating. And at 74.8 inches, it offers only 1.7 inches of width advantage over the LaCrosse, so it’s not exactly a stately cruiser either.

According to Cadillac’s release:

The XTS Platinum Concept design artfully conveys its focus on functionality through technology. It is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan, suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac’s design language.

Which means that it looks like a larger version of the Cadillac Converj, no bad thing in and of itself. But if you cover up the fascias, it’s harder than ever to shake the feeling that this is just another midsized car. But, says Cadillac, the XTS was an “inside-out” design. With an interior inspired by the natural beauty of an orchid, Caddy is banking on the XTS’s in-car comfort and “Platinum”-level luxury, including touch-screen navigation, laser-etched suede seats, other “hand cut-and-sewn” materials and organic light emitting diode displays. 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

The concept has a theoretical plug-in hybridization of Cadillac’s famous 3.6 liter engine, making 350 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. What, you were expecting a V8 in Cadillac’s flagship? Magnetic Ride Control is another technological add-on that might make the XTS somewhat distinctive from its Buck brother.

Still, the contrast between the XTS concept and the production version of the Lexus LS or even the Hyundai Equus is stark. GM is clearly spending its Cadillac development money on the ATS BMW 3 Series competitor, rather than trying to keep up with the high end of the luxury flagship market which already has strong contenders on the value (Equus), technology (LS) and snobbery (Merc S-Class) fronts. But then, the 3 Series segment isn’t exactly short on competition either. And without a flagship that screams Cadillac brand values, it’s hard to see where the brand has to go. 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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