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GM recalling 2013 Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX over transmission software

Thu, 21 Mar 2013 07:59:00 EST

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued recalls for the 2013 Buick LaCrosse and 2013 Cadillac SRX due to a problem with the software for the transmission controller. On about 27,000 SRX and LaCrosse models, the transmission could accidentally be shifted to Sport mode, which would reduce the amount of engine braking drivers experience.
NHTSA says this could increase the risk of a crash, but, fortunately, the required fix is simply an update to the software.
While we're on the subject of General Motors vehicle recalls, a small number (48) of compressed natural gas versions of the 2011 Chevrolet Express are also being recalled for a potential risk of fire or explosion. Yikes. Both official recall notices are posted below.

First 2013 Buick Encore TV ad features... dinosaurs

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 19:14:00 EST

The whole "SUVs as dinosaurs" trope has become something of a threadbare cliché among auto writers, but that doesn't mean the wider world of consumers has caught on to the Jurassic nature of our line of thinking. That's what General Motors appears to be betting on, at least. Just check out Buick's first television spot for its 2013 Encore, the tiny crossover that is pushing the Tri-Shield into territories unknown while looking to outrun the brand's reputation as a refuge for elderly clientele.
Set to air this weekend on ESPN during the NCAA college basketball tournament, the ad plays up the Encore's maneuverability and surprising interior space by setting the baby Buick amongst a herd of lumbering CG dinosaurs created by Tippett Studio, the folks behind Hollywood blockbusters like Jurassic Park, Ted, and the Twilight series of films.
We can't help but snigger a little - while the Encore is indeed surprisingly roomy, nimble, and composed, our first drive found it to be glacially slow, too... not unlike a certain prehistoric race of animals. Check out the commercial below and judge for yourself.

General Motors shaking up its marketing... again

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 18:31:00 EST

One of the things that dogs the full comeback of General Motors is the instability of its marketing. That part of the automaker got yet another big shakeup today when GM confirmed what I have been tweeting for a few days - strong rumors that the Chevrolet and Cadillac ad accounts are walking to new ad agencies.
Cadillac, GM's luxury brand, is going into review from Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis and the indications are that Campbell-Ewald, Chevy's old ad shop, will end up with most or all of it. C-E just announced that it was moving from its long-time home in Warren, MI to a new downtown Detroit office next to Ford Field, just blocks from GM.
The other shoe to drop shortly will be the shift of GM's most important brand, Chevy, from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco to McCann-Erickson of Troy, MI. McCann used to be the agency for Buick and GMC, as well as GM's corporate advertising, and has retained some pieces of business over the last few years. Sources have even told us that it was McCann that did a lot of the creative work on Chevy's new ad platform, Find New Roads. (Not to be confused with a former McCann tagline for Saab, "Find Your Own Road.")

2013 Buick Verano Turbo vs. 2013 Acura ILX 2.4

Tue, 12 Mar 2013 11:57:00 EST

Answering The $30,000 Entry-Level Luxury Question
Twenty years ago, a comparison between an entry-level Buick and Acura would have matched a Skylark against an Integra.
Twenty years ago, a comparison between an entry-level Buick and its Acura equivalent would have matched a Skylark against an Integra. The unfair battle would have resulted in the compact American's defeat in nearly every measurable category, as the Japanese competitor was arguably at the height of its powers.

Hyundai, Buick dealer apologize in wake of Chinese baby social media incident

Sat, 09 Mar 2013 15:00:00 EST

A very strange story out of China today, as Hyundai and a Chinese Buick dealer were forced to face allegations of using allusions to an infamous child murder on a social media site as a way of promoting the safety features of their respective vehicles.
The original sad tale goes something like this: On March 4, a man reported to police that he had left his infant child in a running Toyota RAV4 while he ran into a supermarket briefly. When he came back out, the vehicle and the child were gone. Later in the week a suspect turned himself in to the police; confessing to them that he had stolen a sport-utility vehicle, strangled the infant that was in it, and then buried the child in the snow.
As you might imagine, the gristly incident was covered massively in the Chinese media. (There was huge public outcry as well, as evidenced by the vigil scene, above.) "Changchun baby abduction" was very quickly amongst the highest ranking search teams of the China's Weibo social media site - an equivalent of Twitter in the English-speaking world.

Updated Buick LaCrosse, Regal to debut at New York Auto Show

Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:30:00 EST

Judging by the spy shots we saw last week for the 2014 Buick LaCrosse and 2014 Buick Regal, we knew it wouldn't be much longer until we saw both sedans receive a grand debut. Today, Buick confirmed to Autoblog both cars will be introduced at the New York Auto Show next month, but no further information has yet been released about either model.
Having been on the market for an extra couple years, the changes to the LaCrosse appear to be more significant than those coming for the Regal, but both will be getting refreshed exterior designs as well as updated interiors. The Regal's new face brings it more in line with the all-new Encore and the restyled Enclave, while the LaCrosse should get a more distinctive, upscale appearance.
Both cars will be introduced exactly a month from today, and we'll be there to bring you all the coverage.

GM to make most cars LTE hotspots for 2015

Mon, 25 Feb 2013 17:59:00 EST

General Motors isn't the first automaker to deliver in-car Internet access, but a proposed plan announced today could make the technology more widespread than any of its competitors have offered. By the 2015 model year, most Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC products in the US and Canada will offer 4G LTE mobile broadband access. Initially, GM will just be pairing with AT&T to deliver this service, but additional carriers will be revealed in the future.
Current in-car Wi-Fi hot spots are limited to 3G, but GM says that 4G LTE is 10 times faster than 3G service and will allow for full Internet access, including streaming video for entertainment as well as services like real-time traffic updates and navigation driving directions. There is also no need for a paired smartphone with this new system, which should make it easier to use, and GM and AT&T will also be working together to develop new apps for customers.
Buyers can expect to start seeing 4G LTE in their cars starting next year, and GM is already planning to expand the service to other global markets as well. All of the information from GM's announcement is posted in a press release below.

Ford, Toyota clean up in Best Car For The Money Awards

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 15:44:00 EST

The U.S. News Best Cars for the Money Awards picks winners by looking at the average transaction price, five-year total cost of ownership, the regard a car has from the automotive press, reliability figures from J.D. Power and Associates and safety data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The result, according to the magazine, is "the best combination of critical acclaim and long-term value."
Ford nabbed six of the 21 categories that received awards this year, the Focus, Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, Taurus, Escape and Edge getting trophies. Toyota and its Lexus and Scion sub-brands took another five, the Tacoma and Tundra owning the two categories given to pickup trucks. The other ten awards were split between Honda with three, Buick with two, and one each for Subaru, BMW, Hyundai, Chevrolet and Mazda.
Follow the link to see all the winners and read about why they were chosen.

GM throttles back Chevy Malibu, Buick LaCrosse production over swollen inventories

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:31:00 EST

As inventory of the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse continues to pile up, General Motors will be idling its Fairfax Assembly Plant for two weeks, according to Automotive News. This move comes about a month after the plant was shut down for three weeks in late December and early January for the same reason. As of January 31, the GM had a 94-day supply of Malibu stock while the LaCrosse was a little worse with a 117-day supply.
Just last week, GM announced that it would be investing $600 million in upgrading this plant, but it's unclear what future plans the company has in store for Fairfax considering slow sales of both the plant's models. We do expect a refreshed and more luxurious LaCrosse shortly and an early design update for the Malibu to be announced at some point this year, although we have had no official word as to when either will happen.

GM recalling nearly 4,000 vehicles over airbag concerns

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:31:00 EST

Four different General Motors vehicles from the 2012 model year are being recalled over a potential airbag issue. The driver's side airbag shorting bar in the 2012 Buick Verano and 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, Cruze and Sonic might make contact with the airbag terminals, even during a crash. If so, the airbag won't deploy when it should, possibly increasing injury to the driver.
The recall is expected to begin on February 13 for the 3,896 units that might be affected. GM will notify owners who can then take their vehicles to dealers to have the airbag coil replaced. A bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration below has more info.