Category Archive:

SUVs are NOT Dead

0

SUVs are NOT DEAD – Sport Utility Vehicles Remain Top Considered Vehicle Segment
For as long as I can remember, the New York Times and eastern media have been taking SUVs to task. While many of the people writing these stories don’t own a vehicle or even drive a car or truck, they have decided that the Sport Utility Vehicle is the poster child for social irresponsibility. No matter what they say, folks continue to gravitate to SUVs. We have the data.
For the past thirteen years, Sport Utility Vehicles have been the product segment that is most considered by American driving public. 2006 was a traumatic year for SUVs. High fuel prices dampened demand for large truck-based SUVs, but in 2006 as for more than a decade, demand for SUVs was highest among AutoPacific’s seven macro product segments. When consideration for contemporary SUVs – Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles or XSUVs – is included, consideration goes even higher.

Ford Expedition 07 F34 Blog2.jpg

Sales of Full Size SUVs Like Ford Expedition Have Fallen

Clearly America’s love affair for this Swiss Army Knife of vehicles has not waned, nor has demand by Americans for a vehicle type that can do many different things. We used to say that people bought SUVs because they can go anywhere, go anytime, go with anything, go with anybody… an SUV could do it all. Meeting these criteria – especially the go anywhere aspect of the equation yielded SUVs that were too capable. They could go off-road over rough terrain through tough climate conditions. Even though most buyers never used them for what they were capable of, they were designed to have off-road credibility.

Let it be XSUV:
Let’s officially coin our term for Crossover SUVs. These are not simply “crossovers”, after all, you could have a crossover of almost any two products. We don’t want to call them CUVs – Crossover Utility Vehicles – because that dilutes what they really are supposed to be. The right term is Crossover SUV. This clearly defines that this is an SUV based on a car platform – something not quite as capable as body-on-frame traditional SUVs. So, for now on, it’s XSUVs.
Buick Enclave F34 Blog.jpg

2008 Buick Enclave – New Generation XSUV Responds to Buyers Demands

Carmakers Responded to Buyers with Crossover SUVs: By the end of the ‘90s, manufacturers began to respond to buyers’ demand for slightly softer product characteristics. For awhile terms like “soft-roaders”, “cute-utes” were used to describe vehicles like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and even the Lexus RX300. Inside the car companies engineers and designers were referring to these types of vehicles as Crossovers. And while the buyer rarely refers to his Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, or Honda Pilot as a Crossover SUV, that is what they are. They are not designed for off-roading, but they are designed to provide comfortable, maneuverable, efficient transportation in the suburbs and on vacation.
VehicleVoice internet survey panel members and respondents to AutoPacific’s annual Future Vehicle Survey have responded about what type of transportation they will consider next time they buy. Selected details are below the fold.


Continue Reading

A Three-Row Triple From GM: 2007 Saturn Outlook, 2007 GMC Acadia, 2008 Buick Enclave

General Motors is rolling out three new crossover SUVs that share an all-new, purpose-built platform. GM has called this platform Lambda for internal purposes. The Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia are on sale now and the Buick Enclave arrives in summer 2007 as a 2008MY vehicle. These crossover SUVs are taking on not only traditional and crossover mid-size SUVs but also full-size SUVs and minivans due to their large size and dimensions (they are nearly as large as the Chevrolet Tahoe). They do not have the towing capability of truck-based SUVs, but do have the other attributes for which buyers go to SUVs, or minivans. They have high seating positions, available AWD, and interiors big enough to hold seven passengers or lots of stuff.
Following the roll-out of the Lambda crossover SUVs, General Motors will kill their conventional minivans (similar to Ford’s strategy of killing the Monterey and Freestar minivans). The Pontiac Montana SV6 is already history and its demise will be followed by the Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay and Buick Terraza. Oh, yeah, Chevrolet will get a Lambda Crossover SUV in the next year or so as well.
AutoPacific and VehicleVoice analysts have been included in the reviews of these critically important General Motors vehicles.

GMC_07_Acadia_PR_b.jpg

Sat_07_Outlook_11.jpg

General Motors describes their current state as an interior renaissance, and these products are examples of smart interior thinking. They include a level of interior detail not before seen from the General. As these products were developed with a clean slate, new platform, new interiors, new powertrain, GM took the opportunity to make sure they will be easy to live with.
Bui_08_Enclave_fr.jpg

The second- and third-row folding operations are simple and easy to use and the overall package is terrific. One could buy any one of these vehicles and spend the life of the vehicle discovering all the little things that will add up to a product that enhances and eases daily life. It’s taken GM a very long time to get to such a solid package design, but they have finally succeeded.


Continue Reading

VehicleVoice#44 – Buick Enclave World Debut

0



Watch Podcast


Subscribe via RSS


Subscribe via iTunes



The Los Angeles International Auto Show opened it’s doors to the general public today. For those of you who are saying, ‘What a minute! It’s not January yet!’, don’t worry. You haven’t lost a month somewhere. The L.A. Auto Show opened a month earlier than usual this year. They’ve had the change of date in the works for years now. The old January time table had them overlapping with the Detroit Auto Show, and nobody liked that very much. The earlier show time has them in the unique position of debuting a record number of new models. And one of those models was the new Buick Enclave, which was introduced to the world (and our intrepid VehicleVoice panel of experts) Wednesday.
AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant Jim Hossack thinks the new crossover could be a hit, but it’s probably not going to take over a traditional demographic Buick is gunning for. Jim brings us the first of no less than a dozen pieces from the 2006 L.A. Auto Show.

Show Runtime – 1:29


Continue Reading

LA Auto Show – 2008 Buick Enclave: Tiger Helps Launch Buick's Future

0

At the legendary car-designer school, Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California, and with the assistance of legendary golfer and Buick spokesperson Tiger Woods, GM boss Rick Wagoner introduced Buick‘s next big thing. And big it is. Nearly as long as a Tahoe, Buick’s Enclave is one direction for the future of crossover SUVs and people movers in this country. With seats for seven or eight, standard front-drive and optional all-wheel-drive, and contemporary styling, the Enclave has what it takes to bring the brand into the modern automotive market. The production Enclave takes a look very close to the concept introduced at the Detroit auto show in January this year (click here), to our view a very good thing.

Bui_08_Enclave_bl_front.jpg

While the relatively new LaCrosse and Lucerne have more to offer in dynamics and style than Buick sedans of the late 1990s, they follow the same, generations-old family sedan formula. It is more difficult to create buzz or change the image of Buick dramatically by bringing out a new four-door sedan. And Buick’s first attempts at SUVs seemed at best afterthoughts. Buick’s Rendezvous, a Pontiac Aztek-based ungainly entry, almost had what it took. Then came Rainier, a version of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer/GMC Envoy. Rainier is a decent mid-size SUV, but it launched well after its siblings and isn’t significantly different from the competition.
BuickEnclaveReveal_bl_2.jpg

Enter Enclave, driven tonight through a purpose-built wall by Woods and Wagoner. Enclave gives Buick a chance to bust out of the doldrums in the SUV and crossover SUV landscape with a stylish, usable, and modern entry. Buick’s General Manager Steve Shannon describes the Enclave as “the new face of Buick and everything we want in future Buicks.” We haven’t driven Enclave yet, but it promises to offer driving dynamics tuned for real-world use. This means solid acceleration and passing power and the capability to handle dirt roads and inclement weather as well as the ubiquitous mall parking lot. Power is from a 275HP 3.6L V6, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which should give even this heavy product reasonable oomph. Buick is hoping consumer reaction is as strong as that of the media, who flocked around the vehicle as soon as the formal presentation was over.
BuickEnclaveReveal_bl_3.jpg


Continue Reading

Stuck to the Dealer's Floor – Inventory Numbers Tell the Story

0

Which cars and trucks are planted to the dealer’s floor? In other words, which vehicles take the longest to sell? Who cars? Why does it matter, anyway?
Well, while it may not seem that important to you, it’s critically important to the industry s a whole… from the manufacturese, component suppliers, dealers and quite a few financial institutions. First, if you know the time it takes to sell a vehicle, you know how much it is dragging on the dealer’s floorplanning costs. Floorplanning is the term for the amount it costs the dealer to finance the a vehicle in inventory waiting to be sold. If a vehicle has been hanging around for weeks, he’ll be more likely to deal aggressively to get rid of it. Also, vehicles that have high days supply may be less popular. From that perspective, they may be the ones you want to stay away from.


Continue Reading

Ten Worst Cars for 2006 – Truth About Cars

5

OK, on this one VehicleVoice is just the messenger. The Truth About Cars website has taken it on itself to identify the ten worst cars and trucks sold in the USA in 2006. Not really sure what their credentials are, but here is their press release… When we feel like commenting, see our notes following the press release writeup.
The Truth About Cars Website Names Its Ten Worst Automobiles for 2006
November 8, 2006 – PROVIDENCE, R.I.: The Truth About Cars website (TTAC) has revealed the ten winners of its first annual “Ten Worst Automobiles Today” awards. According to the site’s readers, the very worst vehicles sold in America today are… GM’s minivans.
For voting purposes, TTAC lumped all four of GM’s virtually identical people movers together: the Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Pontiac SV6.
In his description of the “winner,” reviewer William C. Montgomery slated GM’s minivans for their “antique engineering, woeful looks, cancerous effect on not one but four GM brands and their abject inability to hold a candle to their foreign-owned competition.” In terms of dreadful driving dynamics, contemptible aesthetics and torturous ergonomics, no other vehicles sold in America can compete with these ridiculously-named ‘Crossover Sport Vans.'”
The automotive website’s readers voted the new Jeep Compass America’s second worst vehicle: a lackluster vehicle that betrays its storied brand’s heritage. According to TTAC’s description, it’s an “ugly, gangly, underpowered, mud-aversive half-breed” that “staggers into the light, turning all who see it– or heaven forbid buy it– into grotesque, bobble-headed morons.” The Compass “stomps all over Jeep’s reputation as America’s purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles.”
The rest of TTAC’s Ten Worst are the Jeep Compass (2), Buick Rendezvous (3), Chrysler Aspen (4), Hummer H2 (5), Chevrolet Monte Carlo (6), Subaru B9 Tribeca (7), Saab 9-7x (8), Lincoln Mark LT (9) and Chevrolet Aveo (10). Capsule reviews are below.
To create the list, The Truth About Cars asked its 40k daily readers to nominate the worst vehicles for sale in the United States during the 2006 calendar year. A selection committee comprised of ten TTAC writers selected 20 finalists from the readers’ nominations. Finalists were chosen for their crimes against aesthetics, engineering, ergonomics, driving dynamics and/or brand authenticity. The final ten “winners” were chosen by readers via an electronic poll.
Site publisher Robert Farago said his team created The Ten Worst awards as an antidote to the annual “love ins” provided by the mainstream automotive media. “The profusion of ‘best of’ automotive awards reflects the fact that the manufacturer-sponsored magazines and websites can’t tell it like it is,” Farago said. “TTAC is the home of take-no-prisoners automotive journalism. Our Ten Worst list says we’re not afraid to tell the truth about cars.”


Continue Reading

Buick Announces LaCrosse Super

0

Buick announced today that it will launch a V8-powered version of the LaCrosse mid-size sedan in mid-2007 as a 2008 model. Powered by a 5.3L small block General Motors V8, the LaCrosse promises to be an excellent performer.
Shown to analysts for the first time at General Motors North Hollywood Design Studio, Buick resurrects the Super name for the higher performance LaCrosse. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondants were on hand for the announcement as well as driving opportunities in Buick Lucerne V8s and the new Pontiac G6 Retractable Hardtop Convertible. Unfortunately, no photos of the LaCrosse Super were allowed at this event, but think of a tougher, beefier LaCrosse with all the bells and whistles.
With Pontiac having the Grand Prix GXP and Chevrolet having the Impala SS powered by the same engine, it was only a matter of time before Buick added a V8-powered Mid-Size model to its lineup.
Promising to be a relatively low-volume proposition, the Super will provide a halo for the LaCrosse and enhance Buick’s image for performance on demand.


Continue Reading

Wheeeeeez! 2006 Buick Lucerne – Hurt by Details

0

AutoPacific staffers were all prepared to tout the new Buick Lucerne as one of the products that will revitalize Buick and help the brand regain its position as the thinking man’s Cadillac. In many ways, the Lucerne delivers, but it is held back by some fundamentals and too-obvious cost reductions.
On the positive side, the Lucerne looks good. While its styling does not turn heads, the car is pleasant to look at. The interior is very spacious and the trim is well-styled. Outward visibility is excellent to the front and sides but somewhat limited rearward due to Lucerne’s high rear deck.

Buick Lucerne F34 Blog.jpg

The trunk is gigantic. It looks capable of carrying a set of golf clubs for every occupant.
The ride of the Lucerne is well-controlled and supple at the same time. Cornering is flat when not pushed. As Jaguar describes it, they would probably admit the Buick rides with “aplomb”. Quietness is a forte of this big car – nice job on wind noise and road noise control.
Attractively Priced Big Buick for Mature Audience
The price is very attractive. While base pricing starts at about $26,000 for the base Lucerne (including freight), you can load one up to over $35,000. The $35,000 car includes a 4.6L Northstar V8 with 275HP. The car we had for evaluation was the mid-range V6 – a 3.8L V6 with 197 horsepower and a 4-speed automatic transmission – with a price point just shy of $30,000. All in all, this Lucerne is a pretty good value.


Continue Reading

Buick Shows Off its Enclave

1

In this case, the Enclave is not really a country lying within the boundaries of the Buick, but the company’s preview of a vehicle to replace the Rendezvous crossover SUV (and Rainier?). Buick’s replacement for the Rendezvous moves to a new platform (the Lambda platform) and will carry the new Enclave name. The choice of “Enclave” demontrates how tough it is for any car company to identify catchy names for its vehicles.
The Enclave is due in early 2007 as a 2008 model-year vehicle and was shown at GM’s first press conference at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were there to get the scoop. And while getting the scoop several agreed that the Enclave may, indeed, be the first Buick they would actually consider and that this Buick may actually appeal to other than geriatric buyers.
2006 Concept: The New Vision of Buick Style
The 2006 Enclave concept closely previews the vehicle, though it still offers a significant amount of concept eyewash. Unless there is too much confusion and laughter, Enclave is the name the product is due to wear in production. The Enclave concept focuses on furthering Buick’s luxury position, with a highly sculpted and detailed design. Buick describes the Enclave name as evoking images of style, luxury, and the privacy of a quiet, protected space. The style and luxury association with the word Enclave seems a bit of a stretch when compared with the definition of the word, but the Buick concept does succeed with demonstrating images of style and luxury.

Bui_07_Enclave06Cncpt_bl_show.jpg

While the concept of the Enclave may be suspiciously similar to the Chrysler Pacifica, the Enclave styling is much more upscale and serious looking. Additionally, there is likely little risk that Enclave will be confused with a Minivan or station wagon.
The interpretation of the Buick grille is nicely proportioned to the rest of the nose, and moving the portholes from the fender to the hood gives them the appearance of being functional, whether they are or not. The chrome accents are nicely done and not overdone. Among the styling elements that are more concept than production is the way the front and rear fascias completely hug the twenty-one-inch wheels. More bumper would be needed for production, and it is unlikely twenty-one-inch wheels would be offered. The jewel-like headlights incorporate GM’s version of cornering headlights, and those will be included on the production car.
Note: All Enclaves will have portholes (Cadillac calls them “gills”). Six-cylinder vehicles will have three portholes per side while eight-cylinder vehicles will have four per side.


Continue Reading

Crossover SUVs to Outsell Traditional SUVs in 2006

0

Crossover SUVs will outsell Traditional truck-based SUVs beginning in 2006. This forecast comes from George Pipas, Ford’s Manager of Sales Analysis and Reporting in a presentation in Long Beach, CA on December 12, 2005. Refer to the VehicleVoice Blog on December 8 citing a USA Today article on similar observations.

A Few Comments on What a Crossover SUV Is

Pipas’ analysis charts the meteoric rise of Traditional SUVs during the 1990s and the similarly meteoric rise of Crossover SUVs since 1996 when the first crossovers – the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 – were introduced. Of course, defining SUV categories is getting murkier and murkier. VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) have used the “at-a-glance” rule to define SUVs. If you can, at-a-glance, tell that a vehicle is an SUV, then by golly it is an SUV. In this way you are not confused about whether it is car-based or truck-based. (Pipas contends that only about 70% of Crossover SUVs meet this at-a-glance requirement with 30% easily confused as cars, hatchbacks, or wagons.)
Escalade Blog.jpg Traditional SUV 2007 Cadillac Escalade – Category Expected to Decline as a Percentage of Overall SUV Universe
The auto industry thinks differently and often gets caught up in definition problems. They have variously called car-based SUVs “hybrids” (a term since adopted by gasoline-electric ‘hybrid’ powerplants) or “crossovers”. In our research, we have found that folks really have not yet adopted the crossover term and still like to refer to SUVs as SUVs. But enough about splitting hairs about what is a crossover and what is not.


Continue Reading

Follow VehicleVoice

RSS Feed   Facebook   Twitter

Membership

Join

Recent Winners

Sid P., Washington - $100
Ken G., Nevada - $100
Brad T., Wisconsin - $100
Tom M., Virginia - $100
Kathy F., New Jersey - $100
John M., Massachusetts - $100
Mike M., California - $100
Carol R., Texas - $100
James D., Georgia - $100
Martha B., New Jersey - $100
Kerry B., Pennsylvania - $100

What is VehicleVoice?

About Vehicle Voice