Category Archive:

Is the Sky the Limit? – The 2007 GM Collection

1

General Motors hosted a two-day event in sunny Southern California showcasing quite a few of their 2007 makes and models. The event kicked off with a press conference at Saturn of Temecula with the first day’s events focusing on Saturn’s new lineup, followed by a ride and drive down to San Diego. Choices for the drive included the new Saturn Sky, Aura, and Vue. The second day of the event featured a broader spectrum of GM’s lineup ranging from a turbo charged Saab 9-5 to a Mid-Duty GMC Top-Kick towing a boat touting GM’s Vortec engine. With a handful of GM vehicles poised to attack the autocross course or engage in a ‘truck-pull’, at the end of the day the tough part would be deciding which models were the most note worthy.
I was at the event as VehicleVoice contributor and AutoPacific analyst.

350YellowSky.jpg

An obvious choice at the top of the list was the Saturn Sky, which breaks from the conservative styling cues typically found on every vehicle bearing the Saturn marque. With its more aggressive lines, pronounced fender peaks and menacing front end the Sky definitely makes a bold statement. Many may liken it to a miniature Corvette or GM’s version of Mazda’s MX-5 (Miata), but not many will call it boring.


Continue Reading

Pontiac Solstice: Its Style Gets in the Way

0

Driven at Home and On the Road
At AutoPacific‘s Detroit office, we recently had the opportunity to drive the Pontiac Solstice, though the rainy Michigan weather precluded any top-down stick time. This Michigan experience supplemented an opportunity to drive the Solstice in Oregon last August, in ideal conditions far from the daily grind. The 300 miles or so spent driving in Oregon (on roads chosen in part for their ability to help the car shine) included wonderful, sweeping roads and perfect top-down weather. Sunny skies and warm temperatures meant the top only came up for about 50 of the Oregon miles, and then only out of obligation to test it that way.
You can also check out a VehicleVoice video podcast of initial reaction to the Solstice by VehicleVoice contributor George Peterson at the LA Auto Show. Jim Hopson, Pontiac-GMC Communications Manager gives us a walkaround introduction of the upcoming Solstice GXP.

Pon_06_Solstice_bl_Oregon_a.jpg

My Disappointment
As the co-owner of a 1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata and a 2002 Audi TT coupe, my automotive purchases seem to always prioritize fun and styling over practicality and interior space. Our household tends to choose style and fun over practicality and function. With no kids, two-seaters are just the right size for my husband and myself. Two-seat convertibles prioritize fun and style over function and space, and we fully embrace the idea. On paper, I’m the type of buyer who should have already put down a deposit for either Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky. And I wanted to like the Solstice and Sky enough to recommend them over the Mazda, to be genuinely excited about a homegrown product. But I find myself disappointed instead.
Pon_06_Solstice_bl_b.jpg


Continue Reading

Opel Antara: First Images Released

2

Your First Look at the 2008 Saturn Vue
General Motors is wisely pairing Saturn and Opel brands to help revive Saturn at a minimal cost, as well as getting Opel a couple of new products just as efficiently. This strategy is being implemented with several new models for 2007 and 2008 model year. We’ve already reported on the Saturn Aura, which borrows from Opel sedans in Europe, and the Saturn Sky, which was takes cues from an Opel concept and shares more than a passing resemblance to the new Opel GT. Next to come to market will be the Saturn Vue and Opel Antara.
These four-door, car-based SUVs were previewed by a concept called the Opel Antara GTC at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show and called the Saturn PreVue at the 2006 New York auto show. Differences between the Saturn concept and the Opel concept were found in the badge; both even sported the same 212HP four-cylinder diesel and six-speed automatic powerplant. Opel will get the production version first, just as they showed the concept first. The Opel Antara goes on sale by the end of the 2006 and gets a formal introduction at the 2006 Paris auto show this September. Ahead of the show introduction, however, Opel has released intial photos. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice are happy to bring them to you.

Opel_07_Antara_bl_front.jpg

The 2007 Opel Antara should give us a remarkably accurate peek at the 2008 Saturn Vue. A contemporary and attractive family look is shaping up for Saturn, which the updated Vue should complement nicely, and the inspiration by Opel may prove to be a very smart decision and wise allocation of resources. These two brands can share themes and products more easily than GM’s North American brands. As there is no intention of bringing the Opel brand to the States or Saturn to Europe, there is no need to be concerned with cannibalization of one another’s sales.


Continue Reading

2007 Saturn Aura Unveiled

Saturn Just May Have a Winner
At the 2006 New York auto show, Saturn unveiled its upcoming all-new mid-size sedan and one-third of the 2007 product revitalization. Though the Sky will improve Saturn’s image as a fun-car company, Aura’s job is to bring refinement and style to the brand. In large part, Saturn appears to have succeeded. Though we can’t be sure until we’ve driven it and seen regular production models, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents are impressed so far. By fall 2006, customers will be able to weigh in on the issue in the only way that really matters: with their pocketbooks.

Sat_07_Aura_bl_show.jpg

Saturn is poised to start providing products that people want for the product as well as for the terrific dealer experience the products come with. Three all-new products arrive for 2007, in the Outlook SUV, Sky roadster, and Aura sedan. All show promise of being nice products to own and drive. Leveraging GM’s ownership of Opel in Europe has helped Saturn get a new design language quickly and cost-effectively, a design language that has potential for the kind of image improvements the brand needs and is distinct from American siblings Pontiac and Chevrolet.
According to GM executives around the introduction of the Aura concept, Saturn is being groomed to compete against the likes of Volkswagen and Honda, while Chevrolet takes on Toyota and Pontiac takes on Mazda. The new Saturns are to be refined, sporty, and stylish. While Sky is a no-brainer for delivering on these attributes, Aura may also capture them. The new Saturns, at least on paper and on static displays, are competitive for this market, not just an improvement over Saturn’s past product misses.
Sat_07_Aura_bl_f34.jpg

As all GM products are related, the Aura is related to the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6, and all are derivatives of the Epsilon-based Opel Vectra Signum. With the introduction of new models, Saturn is also revising its trim-level naming structure. Two versions of the Aura will be offered, standard XE and uplevel XR (also true of the Outlook).


Continue Reading

Saturn Hopes Outlook Will Brighten Sales Outlook

0

Saturn is Focused on Product
The 2007MY Outlook is an SUV/crossover vehicle that is one of the three new entries for the brand this model year. Clearly, Saturn is a major focus of General Motors’ product development efforts for 2007. The Saturn brand had become stagnant with mediocre products like the Ion, Vue and what was the name of that easily forgotten mid-size car. Even Saturn’s renowned sales experience could not make the brand desirable. Now, new products are on tap to save Saturn.
Though its name was confirmed in late 2005, Saturn’s new crossover was first unveiled at the 2006 New York auto show. Sales begin late in 2006, after a fourth-quarter production start. Buick showed its version as a concept ahead of the Saturn or the GMC Acadia, but the Buick Enclave will be the last to arrive. The Saturn and the GMC arrive for the 2007MY. These are the first examples of General Motors’ new Lambda architecture and promise to be a much needed success.

Sat_07_Outlook_bl_frnt2.jpg

With the Outlook and other new products on tap for the brand, Saturn has the opportunity to revive its image with an expanded lineup featuring some, if not all, exciting and aggressively (for Saturn) styled vehicles. Saturn is finally getting the products it needs, expanding its line up by three for the 2007MY with the Outlook, Sky convertible, and Aura sedan. The Sky is already on sale, though the 260HP Red Line version is new at New York. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents are here in New York to catch the reveal of these new Saturn products in person.
Sat_07_Outlook_bl_rear2.jpg


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

Saturn Sky Quietly Introduced in Los Angeles

0

Spring 2006 Sales for Saturn’s First Convertible
The wait is nearly over. After the 2002 Saturn Sky concept sparked speculation about when and if Saturn would add a convertible and was followed by a concept version only twelve months ago, the production vehicle arrives at showrooms in spring 2006. The concept introduced at the Detroit auto show and the production car on display at the 2006 Los Angeles auto show are nearly identical, though the two-seat, rear-wheel-drive roadster is basically the opposite of the front-wheel-drive 2002 concept.


Continue Reading

Pontiac Solstice GXP – Hot Rod Roadster

0

What makes a hot convertible hotter? More power, of course
Pontiac follows up the launch of the 177HP Solstice roadster with the introduction of the 2007 Solstice GXP at January’s 2006 Los Angeles auto show. Not content with the 177HP in the standard car, but also looking to keep the balance in the overall package that the four-cylinder engine contributes to, Pontiac decided to turbocharge a four-cylinder engine to create the go-fast version rather than shoehorning a larger (and much heavier) engine into the bay. The Solstice and Solstice GXP will be featured in an upcoming VehicleVoice videocast.
The turbocharged GXP engine delivers 260HP from only 2.0 liters, and Pontiac promises a 0-to-60mph time of 5.5 seconds, slightly faster than the Honda S2000. Pontiac’s Ecotec 2.0L DOHC 16v I4 looks to several tricks to get the power up that high. Among them, this engine is fed with direct injection (fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber), a first for General Motors in North America. A dual-scroll turbocharger is used, with a lightweight turbine and air-to-air intercooling. As is true of the base car, standard transmission will be a five-speed manual with an optional five-speed automatic available.


Continue Reading

Automotive Lease Guide Releases Residual Value Awards

0

Automotive Lease Guide is an influential and closely watched barometer of the value of brands and vehicles in the USA. ALG’s data are used by leasing companies to set the values for vehicles two and three years in the future and are critical in determining what lease rates a lessee will pay.
While ALG’s Residual Value Awards are not of the ilk of Motor Trend, Automobile, Car & Driver enthusiast awards, they provide an interesting counterpoint to awards based test track measurements, zero to 60 times and seat of the pants opinions. Here is the text of the ALG release…

– – – – –

ALG’s annual Residual Value Awards honor those vehicles in each automotive segment predicted to retain the highest percentage of their original price. For the third consecutive year, American Honda Motor Company, Inc. heads the list with the Honda Brand winning the Industry Brand Residual Value Award. Honda also received two individual segment awards: the Odyssey for the Minivan Segment and the Accord for the Midsize Car Segment. This is the fifth consecutive win for the Honda Odyssey and the second win for the Accord.
Acura, a division of American Honda Motor Company, Inc., is the winner of the Near Luxury Car Segment for the TL.
BMW of North America, LLC has once again made a strong showing by winning the Luxury Brand Residual Value Award for the third consecutive year. MINI USA, a division of BMW of North America, has won the Compact Car Segment for the MINI Cooper for the fourth time.
Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. took home the most Residual Value Awards this year by winning six individual segment awards: the Avalon for the Fullsize Car Segment, Tacoma Pick-up for the Compact Truck Segment, Tundra for the Fullsize Truck Segment, RAV4 for the Compact SUV Segment, 4Runner for the Midsize SUV Segment, and the Sequoia for the Fullsize SUV Segment. This is the fifth consecutive win for the Toyota Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia; and the third consecutive win for the 4Runner.
Mercedes-Benz USA LLC is the winner of this year’s Luxury Car Segment award for the CLS Class.
The Sports Car Segment award this year goes to Porsche Cars North America, Inc. for the 911 Carrera.
And last but not least, the CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) award goes to Land Rover North America, Inc. for the Range Rover Sport.
“In an era of negative pricing and overcapacity, Residual Value excellence is increasingly difficult to achieve,” said Raj Sundaram, President of Automotive Lease Guide. “Both the segment and brand winners clearly demonstrate that quality products combined with effective pricing strategies will rise to the top.” Sundaram added that, “While the top rankings did not change, several brands have shown significant improvement over last year, highlighting the importance manufacturers are placing on residual value as a long-term objective.”
This year’s awards are based on 2006 model year vehicles. For the fourth year, ALG has also included awards for the brand with the highest predicted resale value of all industry and luxury vehicles. The awards are derived after careful study of segment competition, historical vehicle performance and
industry trends. Award winners are featured on http://www.alg.com, The Wall Street Journal, Automotive News, and other automotive publications and websites dedicated to bringing the industry’s best performing models into the
public eye.


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

2018 NVSS

2018 New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey
By Invitation Only


Start Survey

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