Exterior Color: White
Interior Color: Black
Dillsboro, Indiana, United States
The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey (right) is out, and the top two spots look much the same as last year's list with Lexus and Toyota in first and second place, respectively. However, there are some major shakeups for 2014, with Acura plunging eight spots from third in 2013 to 11th this year, and Mazda replaces it on the lowest step of the podium. Honda and Audi round out the top five. This year's list includes six Japanese brands in the top 10, two Europeans, one America and one Korean.
Acura isn't the only one taking a tumble, though. Infiniti is the biggest loser this year by dropping 14 spots to 20th place. Other big losses come from Mercedes-Benz with an 11-place fall to 24th, and GMC, which declines 10 positions to 19th.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's not traditional mechanical bugs hauling down these automaker's reliability scores. Instead, pesky problems with infotainment systems are taking a series toll on the rankings. According to Consumer Reports, complaints about "in-car electronics" were the most grumbled about element in new cars. Problem areas included things like unresponsive touchscreens, issues pairing phones and multi-use controllers that refused to work right.
With its first full year of sales in the bag, it's safe to say that Buick has a hit on its hands with the Encore. US buyers have snatched up 31,046 of the small, premium crossovers since the Encore went on sale in January of 2013, while 97,311 were sold globally (not counting its counterparts from Opel and Vauxhall).
While we liked the Encore when we first drove it, we'll admit, we weren't sure how the tiny CUV would do. In fact, the first thing Executive Editor Chris Paukert wrote about the Encore was, "We admit it. We have no earthly idea how this whole thing is going to shake out." But it's done well, and has been subject to heavy demand over the past year, blowing away the estimates of analysts, who, according to an August story from Automotive News, projected no more than 18,500 units would be sold in 2013.
"Right out of the gate, demand for the Encore was high," Tony DiSalle, vice president of Buick marketing said in a statement. "It accounted for most of the segment's growth last year and that's because it offers the right safety, technology and features in the right-sized vehicle for many customers."
The Future Buick Verano Convertible?
I wasn't wearing a pedometer while in Germany covering the Frankfurt Motor Show this year, but it's safe to say I walked more than a few miles between press conferences, shooting cars and trekking back to the media center on the first day alone. For this reason, it didn't take much convincing from General Motors for me to duck out of the Messe a day early and drive some of its latest Opel models. No, this didn't include the all-new Country Tourer, but I was able to drive the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Opel Adam and the Opel Cascada.
I focused most of my driving time behind the wheel of the Cascada, which went on sale in Europe earlier this year, since rumors are swirling that a Buick version of this convertible "could happen soon." Buick hasn't had a convertible since the Reatta, and GM has been lacking a non-performance, budget-minded convertible since the Pontiac brand - and its G6 - was dropped, so adding the Cascada to Buick showrooms could further help the reemerging brand compete in the near-luxury segment. Although the weather was too chilly (and occasionally rainy) to enjoy the Cascada with its top down for very long, I was able to clock a fair bit of drive time behind the wheel on roads ranging from the autobahn to tight roads in small, quaint villages.