Mon, 09 Sep 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.
Mon, 09 Sep 2013
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.
Buick has announced pricing for the refreshed 2014 Regal. The base model offers a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 259-horsepower, four-cylinder engine for $30,615 (*after $925 delivery and destination fee). The standard turbo can be replaced by Buick's eAssist mild hybrid system for $32,485. The electrified powertrain delivers 36 miles per gallon, in place of the turbo's 30 mpg on the highway.
Sun, 01 Sep 2013
The big powertrain news for 2014 is the inclusion of an all-wheel-drive system for an extra $2,175. Marking one of the few uses of all-wheel drive on a Buick car, the new Regal AWD has an electronic, limited-slip differential and a HiPer Strut front suspension, which is the same front arrangement used on the hot, front-drive Regal GS.
Speaking of the Regal GS, it's not so hot for 2014. It sports the same 259-horsepower engine as the standard Regal, but offsets that with a wealth of standard, optional or flat-out exclusive equipment like active dampers, Brembo brakes and a Bose stereo. Prices (all including the $925 fee) start at $37,830. Like the standard car, the GS will be available with all-wheel drive for the first time, bringing it a bit more in line with its cousins across the pond - Opel Insignia OPC and Vauxhall Insignia VXR. Prices for the GS AWD start at $40,195.
Just the other day, we told you about how Lincoln isn't really a luxury brand, according to Ford's head design man, J Mays. His argument was that Lincoln lacked the unique DNA to differentiate it from the rest of the market, although the arrival of the MKZ is beginning to change that. Now, we have this video from Autoline Detroit, where Jim Hall, an analyst for 2953 Analytics who was quoted in yesterday's Lincoln story, explains the influence of certain styling cues and how they impact the brands.
Thu, 22 Aug 2013
Using BMW (Angel Eyes) and Buick (Ventiports) as examples for small, simple touches that serve to distinguish the brand's vehicles on the road, Hall then points out how changing trademark styling features, as Chevrolet has done on the new Corvette Stingray, can hurt the vehicle's public perception. Take a look at the full video below for an interesting dive into what these styling features mean to their individual brands.
Drive down the Autobahn and there's any number of vehicles likely to pass you, and most of them are produced locally. But if you're wondering how that Opel left you in its dust, look closely (and quickly) enough and you might make out the letters OPC on the back.
Wed, 14 Aug 2013
They stand for Opel Performance Center (the German counterpart to Vauxhall's VXR line) and they adorn performance versions of the Corsa, Astra and Insignia. The latter is undergoing a bit of a refresh and is expected to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in a couple of weeks, but you don't have to wait that long as our intrepid spy photographers have caught it in the flesh outside an Opel facility in Germany.
Spied here completely undisguised in Sports Tourer (read: wagon) form, the Insignia has had a few nips and tucks performed, but we'll be more intrigued to see what it's got under the hood. The current model packs a 2.8-liter twin-turbo V6 driving 325 horsepower to all four wheels, but rumors suggest that the OPC (yeah you know me!) could have as much as 400 hp up its sleeve. That would make this one heck of a sleeper - especially in wagon form - and only make us pine for a more potent version of its twin Buick Regal to roam our highways, too.
Ignored On Arrival, But Coming On Strong
Thu, 08 Aug 2013
An image exists out there that perfectly conveys the fate we thought would befall the Buick Encore after its world debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The shot shows the just-unveiled Encore on stage, basking in the glow of spotlights but surrounded by a large display area that's bereft of both cars and people. Two journalists are sitting on a couch over to the side, both facing the Encore but ignoring it as they inspect their swag, and a solitary custodial engineer pushes a vacuum back and forth across a sea of gray carpet.
Like a kid with his birthday cake at a party no one came to, this little crossover's debut was largely, almost cruelly, ignored. Who can blame us, though? Two shows ago, the Motor City's main stage welcomed the redesigned Aston Martin-esque Ford Fusion, the 3 Series-assassin ATS from Cadillac and the return of Dodge to the small car game with the Dart. A fourth model for the wayward Buick brand, especially one so arguably un-Buick in form and function, did not seem to deserve the attention paid to its peers that year.
If you own an Apple iPhone or Android device, perhaps you've been tempted to jailbreak or root it. This process gives you access to the the software's code, and can be used to make minor or drastic changes to its operating system. CarKnow, a company in Boston, is working applying a similar concept to the automobile.
Tue, 06 Aug 2013
Translogic recently took a look inside CarKnow to see just how it can tweak the computers inside a car and what sort of things can be done. As our transportation tech sister site explains, CarKnow basically created a digital duplicate of their Buick Regal in the cloud, while harvesting data generated to create custom apps and infiltrate the deepest function of their test car.
And before you freak out about people maliciously taking over your car, CarKnow's founder, Josh Siegel, stresses that it isn't quite so easy as driving up alongside someone. Take a look at the full video below to see just what it's like to jailbreak a car.
General Motors has announced a large investment in its Spring Hill, Tennessee facility. The former home of Saturn production will be getting a $167 million addition to a previously announced $183 million, to cover a pair of new midsize vehicles. The investment is expected to create 1,800 jobs at the factory.
Tue, 06 Aug 2013
That $350 million is being divvied up for a pair of programs at Spring Hill. The first will take the bulk of the money ($223 million) and create 1,000 of the 1,800 jobs, while the other will take the remaining $127 million and generate the leftover 800 positions. But GM says the investment will cover "midsize vehicle programs." So what could they be?
The leading candidate in our minds is a new crossover for Buick, called the Anthem, that will slot between the Encore and Enclave, but will be slightly smaller than the Equinox and Terrain. As we've explained, the new model will likely be the first product to sport GM's new D2UX platform, which will eventually replace both the Delta and Theta platforms. Spring Hill is already building the Equinox, so there could be some credence to this theory.
Buick is having a hard time keeping up with demand for its all-new Encore mini-CUV, according to a report from Automotive News. The stylish, lifted five-door went on sale in January, but dealers have reported that supplies have dwindled after the initial high demand, taking the proverbial "wind out of the sails."
Wed, 24 Jul 2013
General Motors admits that it underestimated demand for the diminutive Buick, which is built in Korea and sold as the Opel Mokka in Europe, where it's also seen success. Buick spokesperson Nick Richards told AN, "We increased production, so there have been a lot more landing within the last month."
Buick has done a booming business, though, even with its limited supply of Encores. With over 12,000 units sold in the first half of 2013, the small CUV is on pace to annihilate industry analysts' estimates, which predicted no more than 18,500 units in 2013. We're not entirely surprised. When we first drove the Encore late last year, Autoblog professed that we had no idea how sales would turn out, as the Encore wasn't really entering into an established segment. Even so, wefound a surprising amount to like in the Encore, enough that we "wouldn't bet against it" being a major success.
A Nice, New Buick Aims For Middle Of The Road
Fri, 05 Jul 2013
Any time someone describes some portion of a car or a driving experience as being "nice," I want to either A) throttle them or B) run as fast and as far as I can from that vehicle. "Nice" is among the most insidious words in the English language - at best it's vague, and at worst, it conveys the exact opposite of its literal meaning. Yet it seems to be used with damnable frequency when it comes to verbally illustrating vehicles. "It looks really nice," or "These seats feel nice," or, heaven forefend, "It's got a nice ride," are all windy signifiers of absolutely nothing resembling a concrete opinion. "Nice" is the adjectival equivalent of meekly smiling and nodding your head.
Of course, I'm as guilty as the next person of having thrown English's least powerful descriptor around. There's even a chance that, rant aside, you'll catch me making nice in reviews to come. That's fine, but you should know that when you stumble upon such usage, past or future, that you've found a sentence in which I'm simply applying a bare minimum of effort to the task.
European Concerns Drive GM, But Beware Of The French Connection
GM's bid to rationalize Europe will impact the products that will be offered domestically.
It seems that Europe is defining the future of General Motors more so than its home North American market. Having axed Saturn, Pontiac and Hummer, GM has done a fairly good job of repositioning its remaining four divisions, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC. Cadillac carries the luxury banner. Chevrolet is aimed at the masses with cars and trucks along with a nod to performance thanks to Camaro and Corvette. Buick bridges the premium gap between Chevy and Cadillac, while GMC offers a hardcore work/upscale proposition.