I was watching an Edmunds video on Youtube where they tested the new Buick Verano, a Chevy Cruze in makeup and a cocktail dress. Overall they liked how smoothly it rode and all of the effort Buick had put into making the car as quite and serene as possible in the cabin. All of this seemed great until they voiced their complaints about GM’s engine choice for the car, the shouty and strained Ecotec Inline 4. Evidently it will ruin your relaxation anytime you decide to accelerate with a loud, unrefined groan. It is sad that with most Buicks there seems to be one large flaw somewhere in the design of each of their cars, but I believe there is an easy solution for many of their problems.
I have driven a few GM vehicles with the Ecotec 4 cylinder, and quite plainly it begs, in agony, to be put out of its misery whenever you step on the gas. This sort of unrefined, “good enough” motor works fine in cheap basic transportation like the Cruze, but we are talking about Buicks here. I know Buick does not have that aristocratic appeal of a Mercedes or BMW, but that is the point. Buick is the luxury car for normal, middle class people who just want to relax as they drive in a car that has just a little more style than most. Buicks are not about speed or cornering hard, they are not about being “better” than anyone, they are just supposed to be a relaxing, laid back way to get around. Because of this, diesel engines could be more perfect for powering these cars.
Whereas the Ecotec 4 cylinder is loud, hard working, and puny in feel; a similar 4 cylinder turbodiesel would be quiet with a laidback yet potent feel. It is a perfect match for Buick’s clientele who just want to relax behind the wheel, and not be put on edge by a loud incompetent power plant every time they have to merge. These characteristics, mixed with the fact that diesels return 30-40% better fuel efficiency makes them nothing less than the optimum choice for Buick to use in all of it’s models.
What’s more is that GM already makes the diesel engine that would be perfect for the Verano over in Europe. The Opel Astra, which shares the same platform as the Cruze and Verano, is offered with a 2.0L turbodiesel producing 158bhp and 258ft/lbs of torque. It would take very little effort for GM to make that engine legal in the US, and they could kick start the demand for diesel cars here in the US, thus finally giving them something over the standard offerings from Japan, who also have not bothered with diesel power here in the States yet.
There are those who would argue that the US has not proven a demand for diesel cars yet. The problem with this is that people cannot actually demand something that is not offered on the market. This is because when people buy cars they don’t say “what would be ideal?”, no they just go out and try and find the best car that is currently available and at a good price. Diesel cars have not been made available here, hence the lack of demand. Take two identical cars, one diesel and one petrol with similar size and power, and let people look them over. The simple fact is that the diesel car will feel better to drive, and will return far better fuel economy. Now how would there not be a demand for that?
It is immensely frustrating to me when I continue to see the likes of GM, and the other two of the Big Three, continuing to make boneheaded decisions, and turn out mediocre products that do nothing but meet the industry standard. There seems to be no drive to try and revolutionize the industry here in the States. They just keep copying Japanese designs in hopes to try and compete with them at their own game. The American spirit of innovation seems dead, and that is so sad because some of the revolutionary solutions are so painfully obvious that I just want to barge into their corporate headquarters and berate them all for their incompetence. Diesel is the short-term answer for normal cars, it is a fact; just look at the rest of the world. It is a complete disgrace that it is taking the American market this long to get with it.
The Edmunds Review: