Not sure about you, but these past few weeks has seen yours truly think more about remdesivir and potatoes (at alternating times) than the Buick brand. I’d put the ratio somewhere close to 99:1, though you could add an extra digit to that first number and probably still be bang-on.
Yes, it’s a brand that’s not top of mind, earning itself more headlines for ditching cars than for adding crossovers. And yet, when our lockdowns end the the virus is vanquished and the open road cries out its alluring siren song, cushy, long-legged cruising machines might be the first thing to cross your mind. It seems Buick has just the thing for you, but you’ll have to act fast — and search long and hard.
With official confirmation that the Buick Cascada will eventually be joining the Lacrosse for an extended dirt nap, General Motors’ “lesser” luxury brand has to make a decision. Will Buick press onward with a limited lineup or will it try and find replacements for North America? Considering Buick’s crossover volume moved from around 30 percent of its U.S. sales volume in 2011 to 84 percent in 2018, the marque likely isn’t worried about replacing unloved models. But it’s also unusual for a luxury brand, even a quasi-luxury one like Buick, to go without at full-size sedan.
Further compounding the issue is GM’s continued repositioning as a crossover, pickup, and EV manufacturer. Sedans are playing an increasingly minor role and, with the company having sold its interest in Opel to France’s Groupe PSA in 2017, it can’t lean on Europe for vehicles anymore. But what about China?
Heavy-duty streamlining has reached the production level at General Motors. After last night’s bombshell (though not unexpected) report claiming Canada’s oldest auto plant would cease operations late next year, more news is trickling out about the automaker’s production future.
Add Ohio and Michigan to the list of locales expected to lose an assembly plant.
Images of the refreshed 2020 Buick LaCrosse have leaked, thanks to some help from an unsecured Chinese government website used in the certification process of upcoming models. Finally, bureaucratic screw-ups are working in our favor. While we’ve seen heavily camouflaged test mules in the past, this is our first uncovered look at the third generation LaCrosse’s refreshed bodywork. Alterations are meaningful but not overbearing.
The front end has been completely worked over, making the LaCrosse more closely resemble the Chevrolet Malibu. However, the changes were no doubt made to keep it in line with modern Buick models. Headlamps are slimmer, designed around the placement of the model’s enlarged grille, just like on the Enclave, while the taillights are pure Rega l. However, the LaCrosse carries just enough chrome to differentiate itself for those who like to pretend car spotting is a legitimate pastime.
No, that image you saw floating around on Twitter wasn’t some prankster’s idea of a joke. Buyers will be able to purchase a Buick LaCrosse bearing the ST trim designation. For 2019, Buick’s adding a new level to its LaCrosse lineup, but it won’t go as far as offering a GS version. That’s the Regal’s responsibility.
So, what does the ST (Sport Touring) trim bring to this traditional, full-size, V6-powered family sedan?
Last time on Buy/Drive/Burn, we took a look at full-size sedans of an American persuasion and non-luxury intent. The consensus was loud and clear on which vehicle of the trio to burn; the Taurus was the subject of a flame war. Citing the sedan’s outdated everything and bad packaging, most of you didn’t like it.
Some of you also complained that the three offerings were too basic, and lacking in content and luxury. Today we turn up the luxury dial and look at three full-size Americans which are a bit more aspirational.
Ready, comrades? This might be tough.
About 20 years ago, I was working on the technical staff of a small hospital under the theoretical supervision of a nice old woman whose name escapes me. When I say “old” I mean about the same age I am now, by the way. She had a 1991 Buick LeSabre and she was having some sort of problem with it that required a long stay in the indifferent care of our local Buick dealership. Around day eight she lost her patience and called the dealership for a good old-fashioned screaming fit.
At some point in said fit, she yelled, “I EXPECT MORE FROM A BUICK THAN THIS!” Then she turned around and froze me with a furious glare, because I was laughing my proverbial ass off. What kind of idiot expected anything special from a Buick in 1999?
Yet there was a time when the tri-shield badge conveyed some real prestige and excellence. My friend Thomas Klockau just wrote something neat about the Electra 225 that has me itching to buy one of those old boats. And while Buick’s current lineup is a mish-mash of Asian hatchbacks and anonymous sedans, there have been a few decent cars in the lineup from time to time. Which happens to be topic of today’s “Ask Jack.”
We joke, but there’s many among us — even here at TTAC — who would love to see the full-size sedan segment return to its former glory. Ford can ditch this EcoSport idea and get back to building Galaxies and LTDs and Fairlanes, Dodge can reintroduce the Monaco and Polara, and Buick can slot the Electra 225 above its current LaCrosse.
Sadly, aficionados of the traditional passenger car, especially the largest class, are dwindling in the face of intense wooing from the crossover brigade. Once one discover what a high seating position and all-wheel drive can do for your life (and your confidence), one rarely goes back. Each year, fewer and fewer return for the LaCrosse.
It is against this backdrop that the division’s flagship sedan debuts its newly luxurious Avenir trim. As the second model to wear the name of Buick’s premium sub-brand, can the new trim lift the model’s falling fortunes?
Being good at something doesn’t necessarily make you popular. Witness the New York Yankees of the late ‘90s, for example. The current Buick LaCrosse falls in that same unfortunate boat. Given its mission, I think it’s a great car. Sadly, that’s its problem — it’s a car, not a crossover, and the market is demanding the latter.
Buick is attempting to push a few more of the large sedans through the showroom by adding the Avenir sub-brand to the LaCrosse lineup. Will it work? Well, let’s see what one gets with the addition.
As part of a larger group of automotive publications, TTAC has access to a variety of content. We wanted to bring you some of the unique content we think lives up to TTAC’s standards and offers legitimate insight or a properly critical viewpoint to car evaluation. This story, by GM Inside News editor Michael Accardi, showcases Buick’s latest attempt to boost flagging LaCrosse sales.
As the full-size sedan market continues to crumble, and the LaCrosse carries a production-crippling 204-day supply of inventory, Buick will push its flagship sedan further into the premium sphere as it attempts to chase unsatisfied luxury shoppers with its new top-shelf Avenir line.
As General Motors seeks to get the company’s U.S. inventory down to the industry average of 70 days’ supply by the end of 2017, once-prominent passenger cars are inhibiting the company from achieving its vital goal.
At Cadillac, where even the company’s three utility vehicles have far more than 70 days of stock, the brand’s four car nameplates have 137 days’ supply. At Chevrolet, where the brand’s somewhat excessive light truck inventory is largely due to an intentional increase in Silverado stock, there’s a 128-day supply of passenger cars. Granted, that figure is worsened by a stop-sale on Chevrolet Sparks that limited the city car to only 1,132 U.S. sales in the last three months and by a necessary Corvette stockpile in advance of a Bowling Green shutdown.
But it’s at Buick, where new and old designs alike are suffering from dramatically lower-than-anticipated demand, that GM’s inventory reduction methodology doesn’t seem to be taking hold. According to Automotive News, Buick dealers have enough LaCrosses in stock to last until the July 4th holiday next summer.
How did Buick develop such a LaCrosse glut, and is there a silver lining to this black inventory cloud?
There was plenty to like about Buick’s heavily revised 2017 Buick LaCrosse when it debuted last year, but the shrinking passenger car market rubbed some of the shine off the full-sizer’s standard features and newfound efficiency. It also propelled sales further downhill.
Buick isn’t resting on its laurels for the generation’s sophomore year. For 2018, Buick’s eAssist mild hybrid system returns to the LaCrosse after a year’s absence, joined by a new transmission in V6-powered models and a starting price designed to lure more buyers into the showroom.
Native advertising is funny. Not because native advertising, the kind of marketing that appears as though it is the content of a specific publication aside from a disclaimer or two, shouldn’t exist. In a land of free speech, companies should be permitted to tell stories in just about any way they wish to do so.
No, native advertising humors me when it becomes obvious just how difficult it was for a company to strike the right balance. Honesty is key, or else credibility is lost. The Truth About Cars can’t say, “TTAC is the best automotive site on the internet with the best writers and the best design,” because it’s not believable.
On the other end of the spectrum, The Truth About Cars shouldn’t run an automotive website comparison test in which TTAC doesn’t win. “Golly, Jalopnik sure is some good car blog, and while we dun paid for this here piece of native advertising, we’re gonna give the victory to the Gawker folk.”
Somewhere in between is the proper blend, a blend for which Buick searched long and hard in a comparison test paid for by Buick in a Buick vs. Lexus comparison test for Automobile Magazine.
There are no secrets here. The article says “Sponsored Content” across the top. The author is listed as Buick.
The winner of the comparison test? Oh, you’ll never guess.
“You weren’t kidding when you said it was big,” she said, flashing me a smile.
“I never lie,” I said, lying.
She was, of course, talking about the 2017 Buick LaCrosse. Get your depraved minds out of the gutter.
I’d told my longtime friend I’d pick her up in a “big, red Buick,” and I certainly came through on that promise. And, as this friend — a former owner of a pinot-grigio-colored ’89 Skylark — settled herself comfortably into the sedan’s commodious front passenger seat, it seemed the LaCrosse had fulfilled its own obligations.
Sadly, it’s a relic in a rapidly shrinking segment. The last of a dying breed that once proliferated across the American landscape in numbers that would make pre-railway buffalo herds jealous. Yes, the LaCrosse is the last real Buick, even as it adopts the latest in safety and convenience features and fuel-saving technologies.
As a lover of every landau-topped barge from the golden age of motoring (or malaise, depending on who you ask), it was a somewhat bittersweet experience to spend time in the LaCrosse, as it does its job quite well. It’s a good soldier, and it surprises in many ways. But it can’t be a dog-and-Playskool-swallowing crossover, and that’s why it and the other holdouts in its segment are effectively doomed.
There’s a train a comin’, and the .45-70 Sharps rifles on board are firmly grasped by legions of singles, families and geriatrics who’ve come to love a taller ride height and spacious cargo hold.
In 2016, as General Motors launched an all-new Buick LaCrosse for the 2017 model year, sales of the LaCrosse fell to an all-time annual low.
But wait a second. Transition years are difficult for any model. Clearance of the outgoing model ends, production of the new model is ramping up, availability at dealers is limited, and the product mix is often skewed toward less affordable models.
Nevertheless, cognizant of the fact that 2016 wasn’t likely to be a great year for the Buick LaCrosse, it’s still easy to declare that 2016 was an awful year for the Buick LaCrosse. Sales were 70-percent lower last year than in 2005, when U.S. LaCrosse sales peaked. Even compared with 2014, U.S. LaCrosse sales were nearly chopped in half in 2016.
And at the current pace, 2017 will be much, much, much worse.