Buick’s doing much better now than it was at the same time half a decade ago. They brought us the Regal, which is a rebadged Opel Insignia, and the Verano, a rebadged and re-engineered Chevrolet Cruze. Normally, this would make me want to tear my own hear out of my scalp, as GM’s track record with rebadged cars is just plain awful. The last time a European sedan was adapted for the USA market was in 1997 when Cadillac dumped the Catera on our shores, a reheated Opel Omega–with predictably lukewarm results. Buick’s last American compact, the Skylark, was an embarrassment to its name and was insulting to someone who wanted a premium small car. Luckily, I got the chance to sample Buick’s two best turbocharged options last month in the form of the Regal GS and Verano Turbo. Originally, I was going to keep the two separate, but after a long thought and two eye-opening drives, I’ve changed my mind, because these two cars should be looked at together. One of them is clearly better than the other–and one of the two doesn’t quite live up to its badge’s reputation.
I really liked the Buick Verano when I drove it a few months ago because it was an entry level luxury car with its priorities in line. It offered a very high level of comfort, and solid quality for a very decent price, so there wasn’t much to complain about. However, if I had one criticism to make, it would be that the engine wasn’t really befitting of a luxury car. Its power was only passable, and despite GM’s best efforts, a shouty four banger can only be made so quiet. When it came time to merge onto the highway the Verano just felt stressed, and that is not something that will promote relaxation in the driver. I sort of looked the other way at all this because it was such a great value in other ways. Let’s face it, I didn’t really expect to find the epitome of luxury in a car costing only 23 grand. Happily, however, Buick has brought out a new, turbocharged version of the Verano, which hopefully would remedy any complaints on the standard model. I was quite excited when I first heard the Verano Turbo was coming out, and I remember chuckling at Jalopnik’s tag line “The Buick Verano Turbo just slapped your grandma in the face”, so I had to go try one as soon as they hit showrooms. Read the rest of this entry »
When the Buick Verano Turbo was announced, Jalopnik proclaimed “The Buick Verano Turbo just slapped your grandmother in the face.” While that was my favorite headline of the day by far, it is more accurate to say that GM is really slapping themselves. The Verano Turbo looks promising in every way, with 250hp, a manual transmission, a price likely to range from around 26k to 32k, all a little too promising for the likes of the Buick Regal GS and Cadillac ATS 2.5.
Buick has not had the best reputation with smaller cars. Their most recent entry, the Skylark, turned a once great name into one best remembered for being an elderly librarian’s best friend and a speed demon’s worst enemy on I-95. However, Buick’s fortunes have turned around a lot in the past two years or so, with newfound success in the larger and smaller portion of the premium midsize market and a newfound lease on life. So, I took this white Verano you see here for a spin in South Florida to see if it was up to the hype. Read the rest of this entry »
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. Read the rest of this entry »
The Buick Regal GS will be coming out soon, and I have to say it is terrible. You see, the Regal is based on the same chassis as the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia in Europe. The problem is that in Europe GM went all out with the VXR version of the Insignia, where as it has been half assed for us here in the states. Read the rest of this entry »
This year, a pretty significant number of cars are hitting their last year of production, or are officially dead. A good number of these models should have been dumped eons ago, and others don’t deserve to die. Here’s a few of my thoughts on some of the cars that are either dead or dying. To make life easier, I’ll group them by brand or by configuration. I’m not sad to see most of them go, but I am sad to see one or two in particular go away. Read the rest of this entry »
In a related article, Nick talked about his experience at Main Street in Motion, an event created by General Motors, in order to show off their lineup and all the improvements they’ve made (or in some cases, not made) over the past years. It’s worthy to note that, after a quick talk with another patron, that GM used to do these events often, and this was the first time they’d done this in quite some time. Knowing that, I took some drives and a few observations. For example, they attempted to get lower-optioned versions of competitor vehicles at any chance they could, with some notable exceptions, which I will get to later. Also, like Nick said, the entire event was free of charge. Read the rest of this entry »
At Mainstreet in Motion at the Meadowlands at the end of July, I was already somewhat familiar with the LaCrosse, having driven one for two laps around the Buick circuit in Philadelphia. But, I took the opportunity to drive the rest of the lineup during the event in New Jersey, so here’s a few thoughts on it. Read the rest of this entry »
Main Street in Motion is a free promotional event put on by GM where anyone can come test drive their cars and some of their competition on a closed course. It is a bit of an automotive traveling circus that travels to cities all over the country. As I said it is completely free, even the refreshments, so all you have to do is sign up online and go to the event to take part. Al and I went to their recent event in Philly, here is what I have to say about it. Read the rest of this entry »
Although GM’s turnaround has been the work of all four of its brands, Buick is the one that seems to look the most different than its previous self. With the loss of Oldsmobile and Pontiac over the past 10 years, Buick is now the mid-level brand of the family, which is an extremely difficult position to be in during this time, as Cadillac struggles to move upmarket and its closest competitor, Mercury, is finally put to bed by Ford. Read the rest of this entry »