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Auto blogTue, 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.
People are a weird sort. Even after registering over 70 recalls through the first three-quarters of 2014, General Motors saw its best Q3 results since Jimmy Carter was in the White House, registering over 2.4 million global sales between June and September on the back of strong results in the US and China.
US sales were marshaled by good results for GM's pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, which bumped the manufacturer's truck market share to 35.6 percent, up nearly three points from Q1 2014. Buick has seen healthy growth as well, with the Encore dominating its segment for the sixth month running.
It was China, though, that really bolstered GM's sales, as the company's efforts to top last year's record-setting 3.16 million units continued apace. Small SUV sales saw massive growth, with Encore, Chevrolet Trax and Captiva figures jumping 90 percent in Q3. Brand-wise, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick all saw sales gains in the PRC, with each recording double-digit year-over-year jumps. Cadillac sales alone were up 63 percent compared to the first nine months of 2013.
A few months ago I drove the 2014 Buick LaCrosse and wrote up a First Drive review of it. For all of my quibbles with that sedan (and I had a fair number), I understand that it speaks to the heart of what new Buick loyalists like in a car; it's roomy, has a cushy ride and is as placid as a summer's morning at highway speeds.
Those qualities, while undeniably desirable, don't mean a whole lot to me personally. I prefer sedans that conjure up words like "nimble," "punchy" or even "raucous" on occasion. So, directionally, the high-performance GS version of the 2014 Buick Regal is more my cup of tea than any other car in the company's current range.
In fact, I'd already come to know the Regal GS from its 2012 model year introduction, and grown more than a little fond of the sporting sedan in its original front-wheel-drive, six-speed-manual guise. The fast, sweet-handling car with well-sorted controls may have suffered from a slight identity crisis in terms of pricing (and may still), but it was undeniably fun to drive. So, when I heard that the GS was coming to market for 2014 with optional all-wheel drive (albeit only in combination with a six-speed automatic transmission), I was stoked to have another go and concentrated my driving impressions on the AWD car.