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Buick Enclave Wins AutoPacific 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award for Luxury Crossover SUV

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Pulling double duty – it essentially replaces both the Rendezvous and Rainier — the Buick Enclave has not only caught the attention of a much larger and much younger demographic, it has earned a reputation as 2008’s Ideal Vehicle in the Luxury Crossover SUV category. Owners reported that the interior is spacious, with generous passenger room and interior storage. Its interior lighting, safety and ample technology compliment the exterior styling, wheels and tires and ride.

Posted in: Awards, Buick

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Exhaust Note #19: Is GM Breaking Up?

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After a lovely 4th of July weekend, doing my best to focus energies on anything not related to work (something I hear is easy for most people to do, but I’ve never quite got the knack of), I started my usual workday morning routine at my local Bally Total Fitness. And, sure enough, as soon as I get near the gym TV, there’s the news, dragging me right back to 5:15 am Monday morning reality.
The 5 am scoop in Detroit was the rumor GM is considering dumping more brands, one way or another, and firing more mid-management white-collar employees. (No, UAW, you do not have the corner on losing jobs. I swear.) Of course, by time I was in the office and caught up with e-mail, GM has flatly denied that any brand, other than Hummer, is up for review. We’ll only know the truth of that if GM manages to hold onto the seven remaining brands, and assuming Hummer is sold. Here’s the thing: If GM is not considering reducing their brand count, they should be.

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Rumors actually surfaced on this subject last week. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was on my way home to enjoy said holiday weekend that I heard an automotive journalist being interviewed for his opinions on the rumors and what GM should do opine that Saab and Saturn are the likeliest brands to go. Monday morning and it’s groundhog day again. Between that interview and Monday morning, it turned into “news” that GM is considering selling those two brands. Says a lot about how quickly (and recklessly) rumors and speculation fly in this industry, but that’s a story for another day.


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Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu Win AutoPacific 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award for Premium Mid-Size Car

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With high scores in ride, power and acceleration, the Buick LaCrosse wins the 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award in the Luxury Mid-Size Car segment. Refined chassis tuning and its Stabilitrac system helped the LaCrosse came out on top.
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Owners’ preference for Chevrolet Malibu’s exterior styling, exterior size and passenger room helped the car bring home a 2008 IVA award in the Premium Mid-Size Car category. High marks for the level of technology, seat firmness, and interior lighting augment the victory.

Posted in: Awards, Buick, Chevrolet

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards

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Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 – An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.


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BMW X3, Acura RDX, and Buick Enclave Win AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Luxury Crossover SUV Segment

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In the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards’ crowded Luxury Crossover SUV Segment, the BMW X3 bested tough competition to rise to the top. With a well-established Reputation, good Handling, and highly rated Safety Features, the X3 impressed owners, who also rated Overall Quality very high, along with All Weather Traction and Feeling of Safety While Driving.
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Acura’s RDX was in the top rank of Luxury Crossover SUVs in the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Owners gave high marks to its Innovative Technology and Audio System. Driver’s Seat Visibility also scored very high, as did Handling. With a 240-horsepower, turbocharged engine, the RDX also scored very well in the Power and Acceleration department.
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Buick Enclave owners placed the vehicle in the top rank of the Luxury Crossover SUV Segment in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Buick touts “Quiet Tuning” as one of Enclave’s strengths, and it received high ratings for Quietness Inside the Vehicle and Ride. High Safety Features scores also bolstered the Enclave’s victory.

Posted in: Acura, Awards, BMW, Buick

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.


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Buick Lucerne Super – No Floaty Boaty Buick

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Went up to Santa Monica on Monday, April 17 expecting to drive the new Pontiac G8 and Pontiac Vibe, but Buick Pontiac GMC management slipped in a new Buick Lucerne Super to drive as well. You know the Lucerne. It’s a modern interpretation of the General Motors Land Barge. We’ve evaluated both 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder Lucernes before and like the car. It’s big, comfortable, effortless to drive. It’s a car that won’t turn off Buick’s 72 year old buyer base.

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Lucerne Super – Evolves Buick DNA
Well, the Lucerne Super is a bit different. As Engineering Program Manager Karen Nicklin explains, “This is not your bloaty boaty Buick”. She’s right. The car feels solid and confident at its first movement. The steering is quicker. The suspension is tauter. The engine is stronger (by only 17-horsepower for a total of 292HP). Dynamically, these adjustments result in a car that feels competent and confidence inspiring. It is not a sports sedan by any means, but it is a damn fine big sedan.
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Karen Nicklin Describes Changes to Lucerne Super Front Fascia

Nicklin is with GM’s Performance Division. They work on things like the Buick LaCrosse Super, the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, the Cadillac CTS-V… the stuff that drivers like to drive.
So, you’d expect the upgrades on the Lucerne to be only performance enhancing. Au contraire! There are numerous exterior and interior detail upgrades as well. Super has a unique front fascia and bolder grille while carrying over the fenders and hood. The rear can be distinguished by larger exhausts. Nicklin admits to being first an interior engineer and it shows in the attention to detail in the interior: Leather padded instrument panel cover. Different material tones on the instrument panel appliques. Unique steering wheel, etc.
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Give Buick Buyers the Opportunity to Drive the Best
Interestingly, the Lucerne Super is not in the lineup to bring in droves of new buyers. Its volume expectations are relatively modest at 6,000 units per year (500 per month). And it is not to drive down the age of the Buick buyer base. It is to provide those discerning Lucerne customers who want uncompromising transportation the opportunity to drive the best. Interesting strategy.
Priced at $40,000 with the only major options being a Navigation System, moonroof and chrome wheels, Lucerne provides an excellent car that should appeal to Buick buyers who want to drive rather than be driven… and may even bring in new customers to the Buick store. The car is in production now and should just be arriving at Buick dealerships around the country.


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2008 Buick Enclave – Top Line GM Lambda Crossover SUV

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General Motors has now completed the launch of its Lambda platform Large Crossover SUVs. The Lambda platform includes vehicles from Saturn – the Outlook, GMC – the Acadia (not ARcadia) and Buick – the Enclave). Eventually, a Chevrolet version will be added as well.
These are the landmark vehicles that represent the end of the classic body-on-frame V8 powered SUV. They are that good.
I just returned from a driving event for the recently introduced Buick Enclave in St. Louis, Missouri. When I got into the office there was a Saturn Outlook in the parking lot for the AutoPacific and VehicleVoice staff to evaluate. Great opportunity for a back to back comparison of two Lambda crossovers. This story will concentrate on the Enclave – a future story will showcase the Outlook.

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Buick Enclave – First Drive
First, lets talk about the Buick. This is a vehicle that I have been waiting to drive for two years now. I think I have been to three events where Enclave was a featured subject, but this was the first opportunity I have had to drive it. Why was I looking forward to the Enclave? From my perspective it is a good size, has expressive styling inside and out, and is an example of the latest General Motors platform architecture.
Was it what I was expecting? Yeah, I guess so. First, I had to calibrate myself to the fact that the Enclave is a BUICK and what General Motors was attempting to achieve when they developed the vehicle. They wanted a vehicle with Buick ambiance – expressive, upscale styling inside and out. They wanted a spacious crossover capable of seating seven or eight passengers in three rows of seats. It was to have excellent ergonomics and be very pleasant to drive. It was to be very quiet. Check the boxes and the Lambda design and development team appears to have achieved their objectives.
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2007 Saturn Outlook – Lambda Crossover SUV

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The Saturn Outlook is a large Crossover SUV based on the General Motors’ Lambda platform. The Lambda platform is shared with the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia and also with an upcoming Chevrolet large Crossover.

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Has GM Nailed Crossover SUV Execution?
First, you might be asking “what is a Crossover SUV”? For years, we at VehicleVoice have been avoiding using the “crossover” word because, frankly, our research shows that consumers are not yet using the term widely. In our eyes, an SUV is an SUV is an SUV. Our chief industry oracle, Jim Hall, always referred to Crossovers as “mongrelhalfbreedbastards”. But, with vehicles like the Outlook hitting the market we’ve decided to use the Crossover moniker.
Basically, a Crossover SUV takes the basic SUV theme and civilizes it. SUV drivers have for decades been asking for more maneuverable, more economical, more easy to live with SUVs. Crossover SUVs are the answer and the GM Lambda vehicles are the latest examples of Crossover SUV design and execution. We think GM has pretty well nailed it.
Pricing Makes Outlook a Persuasive Proposition
The Saturn Outlook XR that we evaluated is a mid-priced model listing at about $33,250. When you check the boxes you really want – like all wheel drive and a navigation system the price slips over $41,000. When you check ALL the boxes and add a moonroof and rear seat entertainment system you can touch $45,000. For a Saturn!
While you might think that is a high price, the base, base, base price of the FWD Outlook XE (the lower model) is about $28,000 including destination. This puts it mid-way between the base price of a Ford Explorer and Expedition. Given that Outlook is about the size of a Chevrolet Tahoe – priced about $4,000 more with a V8, the Saturn looks like a good deal.


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Buick Revives Super: 2007 New York Auto Show

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Only days ahead of the 2007 New York Auto Show, Buick revealed its 2008 model year Lucerne and LaCrosse, as well as announcing the return of the Super trim level. Though not used in fifty years, Buick’s mid-twentieth-century Super models indicated the top of the range, the most special, premium Buicks you could get. Supers appeared in Buick’s range from 1940 to 1950 (not including WWII years, of course). Among them were the 1940 Super Estate Wagon and the 1958 Super Riviera Coupe. It may be a stretch to see Buick as the Super brand it used to be, but these powertrain updates give Buick top-end bragging rights among front-drive large luxury cars. (We first brought you news of the LaCrosse Super back in May 2006.)

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Fast forward to 2008MY, and V8 power is at the core of both the new Lucerne and LaCrosse Super, though not the same V8. Both also get new, large waterfall grilles similar to the Velite concept of 2004 as well as the 2008 Enclave SUV for a the 2008 range that looks more like a family. The adaptation of the large, flowing grille is better done on the LaCrosse than the Lucerne, though both result in a heavy-looking nose.
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OPINION
VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers are quick to compliment General Motors for adding higher power and higher performance models to their lineup. Adding the Super models to the Buick LaCrosse and Lucerne brings back credibility to the Buick lineup and should attract “mature” well-heeled drivers to the cars. Buick has always been the car for the country doctor or dentist or the town lawyer (probably now driving a BMW). These are cars that they will not have to apologize for, but will take time for them to be noticed.
The Management


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