Tag Archives: Buick

Review – 2010 GMC Acadia

I will be really up front and honest with you.  When I received the email telling me a 2010 GMC Acadia was coming my way, my first thought was “I will not like this vehicle.”  The main reasoning behind this is because I actually like the current Chevrolet Tahoe (the GMC Yukon is fine but I like the Tahoe styling better) and I could not imagine why I would personally buy this mammoth crossover instead of a Tahoe.  Yes, I’m aware the Acadia starts roughly around $5,540 cheaper than the Tahoe, but pricing never entered my thoughts when making this judgment.  The more interesting thing was, I had just hopped out of a fully loaded Buick Enclave, which rides on the same platform and shares so many parts with the Acadia.  I really enjoyed my time with the Enclave, but it still didn’t sway my opinions about the Acadia.  So what happened?

The Acadia’s exterior is striking.  The headlights are unique and truly good looking.  They really set the front end apart from other crossovers.  The hood has nice sculpting in the center with lines running from the front clip into the hood on either side.  The side profile is less sculpted, but has a bulge towards the bottom of the doors near the rocker panels.  The fenders are somewhat over exaggerated but not overly done.  The rear taillights are stylized with two round turret-looking shapes in each housing.  The Acadia’s exterior is overall, very sharp especially sitting on the optional twenty inch chrome clad wheels.

The Acadia’s interior does have a few design cues shared with the Chevrolet Traverse, though it is worth noting the Acadia came to market before the Traverse.  The center stack and instrument panel are all easy to operate and organized well.  At night the gauges and switchgear all light up GMC red and white. I personally find this easy on the eyes late at night.  The standard fold-flat third row is easy to operate but as a usable seat, the space back there is really meant for a child.  With the third row in seating position, there is still room in the back for bags.  The seats while large and flat were most definitely road trip worthy.

Powertrain options in the Acadia are limited to the 3.6 liter V6 featuring direct injection. Power output is 288 hp and 270 lb-ft to either the front or all four wheels.  The power is handled by a six speed automatic with manual shift capabilities.  I am undecided on this transmissions programming.  It could be the particular Acadia I was in, but the transmission seemed lazy to me.  Shifts were not quick and crisp.  They were delayed and took longer than expected when not pushed hard.  In all-wheel-drive mode, as the tester was equipped, the EPA rated the Acadia at 16/23 miles-per-gallon.  I saw an average of 16.8 mpg in the city and 19.9 mpg cruising at 75 miles-per-hour on the highway.  It is worth noting I averaged 22.8 mpg when cruising at 65 mph.

Rear End With Third Row Seat Up

The Acadia was optioned as a SLT-2 model with a sticker price of $42,185.  The test model also included the following options: technology package, touch screen navigation with rear view camera, rear seat entertainment, power sunroof with second row skylight, heated and cooled front seats with perforated leather surfaces, and red jewel tintcoat.  The total price swelled to $49,740 after destination and the plethora of options!  That’s a lot of money for a non-premium CUV.

A few things that stood out to me while I was in the Acadia:  first, was the heads up display. I like how GMC decided to include this feature with the technology package.  Second, the cooled seats in this Acadia were some of the best I have encountered to date.  They seats cooled very quickly and prompted me to pay attention as the seats made my backside chilly.  Finally, the iPod/iPhone interface on the optional touch-screen radio worked terrific.

So after driving the Acadia for the week, was it good enough to change my original opinions?   I was sure I wasn’t going to like it.  My final opinion on the CUV is I kind of like it and I kind of don’t.  I definitely was impressed at the end of my test.  I liked the Acadia as a vehicle; more than I ever thought I would like it.  With that said, I cannot admit the Acadia would be my top pick for $49,740.  GMC is deep into luxury territory at that price and in reality, the Buick Enclave has a nicer interior.  Looking past GM’s products other vehicles in the same price category as the Acadia include: the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and many others luxury brand CUVs.  For the same price as the Acadia, the Audi Q7 TDI or the Acura MDX might be a better buy in my opinion.  The main problem is not the Acadia, but rather GM’s pricing of the Acadia. This vehicle fits in much better at with a $44,000 price ceiling to be truly competitive.   The bottom line is, if someone was ready to buy an Acadia and asked me if they should, I would say this: if you like it, it is a good vehicle but if selecting a fully loaded one I might be cautious on purchasing.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

The First 2011 Buick Regal Has Been Sold

It is true!  The first 2011 Buick Regal’s are hitting dealerships now and the first one sold this past weekend.  The car was sold in Elgin, IL by Woody Buick GMC dealership to 44 year old CEO at a manufacturing company.  He traded in an 2007 Saturn Outlook while also considering a Toyota Camry and Audi A4 before purchasing the new Regal.

The new owner stated “The Regal is a superb car to drive on the road, with more of a European feel than any other car we looked at,” said the new owner. “My 15 year-old daughter has already said she wants to take the car to college with her in a few years.”

GM had this to say about the first sale, “We are encouraged to see that the first Regal was sold within 24 hours of hitting the dealership lot,” said Roger McCormack, director of marketing for Buick. “The Regal is the next chapter in Buick’s modern transformation and will continue attracting new buyers to the brand.”

I personally think the Regal stands a good chance at luring more buyers at a lower age range into the Buick showrooms.  Time will tell but everyone that has driven one so far walks away throughly impressed.

Source- GMInsidenews

Review – 2010 Buick Enclave

We have heard time and time again that Buick is in a renaissance.  Some told us that the movement started with the Lucerne.  They were misinformed dearly.  The real renaissance movement began with the Enclave.  Buick debuted the Enclave concept at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2006.  That concept came to reality less then a year later debuting as a production vehicle at the L.A. Auto Show later that year.  So the question is simple: is this every bit the car Buick claims it is?  Lets find out.

The outside of the Enclave is really stunning.  From the front fenders that flow into the body to the rear fenders, which pick up and flow into the rear taillights— the lines are stunning.  The headlights are unique and look great both during the day and when lit up at night.  The twenty-inch chrome clad wheels were met with more chrome strewn about the exterior, from the door handles to the rear taillight surrounds.  Chrome was all over the exterior of this vehicle.  I did have one person tell me it was a little flashy for their tastes.  I however think it was tastefully done and not overdone in the least bit.  The traditional Buick waterfall grille still resides in the front reminding you that yes, indeed this is a Buick.  Though you might be shocked to find this out by looking around the vehicle.

Inside the stunning looks continue.  Wood is literally everywhere.  Well when we use the term wood we use that generously.  The wood is actually plastic with only the wood on the steering wheel being real mahogany.  With that said, it does not look bad.  The design is aesthetically pleasing and very upscale.  The center stack has an analogue clock at the top.  The climate control set up and the radio/navigation is shared with the other lambda-based vehicles (Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and the now dead Saturn Outlook).  The second row seats can be had in either a three-person bench seat or two captains chairs.  This is a no cost option and I personally liked the captain seating option, though it is not quite as practical since you lose a seat.  The third row folds flat and is standard.  This is mainly a space for children though an adult could manage for a quick trip across town.  The dual laminated glass keeps things extremely quite inside even on the highway.  Even with the third row up you still have room for luggage or groceries.  The interior—like the exterior—is definitely tastefully done.

The powertrain is shared with the other lambda vehicles as well.  Equipped with a 3.6 liter direct injection V6 that puts out 288 hp and 270 ft-lb to either the front or all four wheels.  The power is handled by a one-choice six speed automatic transmission, which does have a manual shift capability.  The steering is noticeably boosted and is light to the touch.  This is not a barnburner but it has enough power to get up and merge onto a freeway.  Though I would not suggest racing your next-door neighbors Porsche Cayenne to the country club for pinks, for you will lose.

The Enclave I had was  CXL-2 which is the top trim level.  Equipped with every option other then the all wheel drive the sticker price rang in at $47,355 including destination.  This included such options as the audio system with navigation and DVD, power sunroof with second row skylight and the twenty-inch chrome clad wheels.  The navigation system is the older touch screen unit supplied by Delphi, which is DVD-based rather then hard drive based.  This is a tad slower then the new hard drive based unit supplied by Alpine in the new Cadillacs.  I am hoping this gets upgraded soon.  Also the rear seat entertainment, which as part of the audio system package mentioned earlier, drops down from the roof that puts the screen right in the way of your rear view mirror.  The newer models from GM are using dual flip up monitors on the back of the front seats.  This too hopefully will be upgraded sooner rather then later.  Another feature that was missing was auto up windows.  Only the driver’s window was equipped with the auto up feature.  In this price range that is almost commonplace and a little strange.

One of the biggest downfalls of the lambdas is their weight.  They are almost obese, weighing in at almost 5000 lbs (4780 to be exact).  You can most definitely feel the engine pulling all this weight around.  The EPA rates the fuel mileage at 17/24 for the front wheel drive model I was in.  I did manage to average 17.3 mpg in the city and did not have the chance to truly test the highway rating.  These are fairly decent numbers especially compared to some of the competition.

In this price range you are deep in luxury SUV territory with players such as the Acura MDX and the Lincoln MKT, among others.  The question is simple: is the Enclave a worthy competitor?  I would say it is definitely a vehicle I would recommend, but it will not be for everyone.  The Enclave to me feels bigger then the MDX and is really just a different personality than MKT.  All three are really nice vehicles and the Enclave is definitely class competitive.  While some upgrades are needed as time has passed, the Enclave is still the competitive looker it was when it made its debut.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

2011 Buick Excelle is Almost Here

The 2011 Buick Excelle is almost here and these shots do not leave a ton to the imagination.  This new Buick will sell in the Chinese market and more then likely will arrive at some point here in the U.S. market.  Powertrain is unknown but one can assume it will be powered by a four cylinder possibly featuring direct injection.  The interior shot shows the continuation of the current Buick interior styling theme.

Source- autohome

Hat tip to Brian Gluckman for bringing this to my attention.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 22: “New York Auto Show Recap”

Episode 22 starts by introducing our newest member to the AutoBird Podcast team, Justin Loyear joining us from Cheers and Gears.  Moving into the garage we talk about the Buick Enclave I was in for the past week.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

Next came our main topics which their were quite a few but they all centered on the New York Auto Show.  This week the topics included discussion on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid & Sonata Turbo, 2011 Kia Optima/Forte Hatch/Sportage, Scions, 2011 Nissan Juke, Chevrolet Cruze Eco and RS, 2011 Hyundai Equus, and last but certainly not least the 2011 Infiniti QX56.

Last we discuss the past week on our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.  The week in review included- my updated  Name That Car: Sebring or 200C, Innovative Ford Fiesta Movement Campaign Stirs Interest, and Name That Car: Dodge Durango or Magnum.  Justin had a post on the March sales numbers along with a short recap of the New York Auto Show.  Colin had posts on Top 20 Vehicles in March and a post about Craigslist Confessionals by the one and only William Maley.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Review – 2010 Chevrolet Traverse

Let’s be frank: I personally never felt Chevrolet had a great minivan. The Venture was ho-hum at best and the Uplander was a train wreck. In theory you are supposed to keep going until you get it right and I am all for that, but at some point, you need to cut your losses and refocus on something else. General Motors has done that exactly with the Lambda platform based CUVs and left the minivan behind.

The Chevrolet Traverse is the latest (and last to the market) of General Motor’s large CUVs. This is no small vehicle and, in fact, is pretty much the size of a Tahoe. The thing is, while it is almost as big as the Tahoe, it drives and rides completely differently. The ride is much more like a car-based vehicle and the reason for that is the unibody design and construction of the vehicle. The Tahoe is a body on frame design. The Traverse is an older truck style vehicle.

The sister vehicles to the Traverse are the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and the now dead Saturn Outlook. The Traverse launched with an upgraded motor from these other vehicles; a 3.6 liter V6 featuring direct injection technology. This engine puts out 281 hp and 266 ft-lb (288 hp in LTZ trim). The direct injection gave the engine both more power while maintaining acceptable fuel economy. The power is routed through the front wheels with all wheel drive as an option. The six speed automatic transmission does have manual shifting abilities via a rocker switch on the gear selector. The engine is rated at 17/24 in front wheel drive form, which is a decent rating for a vehicle of this size. I managed to average 17.6 mpg in mixed driving, although my city driving has lot of stop and go while going into work and really does kill the gas mileage. In the beginning of the week, when it was straight to work in downtown, I was averaging a mere 15.4 mpg. Once I started driving on the highways a more, my mileage crept up above 17 mpg.

I have driven a lambda based vehicle before but it is has been a while. Upon entering the Traverse, I looked in my rear view mirror and remembered just how big this vehicle is. Site lines are good with decent sized mirrors. Those mirrors each feature a refracted lens for your blind spot. Driving this big CUV was a pleasant experience. The steering was not overly light but more is more car-like than big SUV. The power is more than enough to overpower the front wheels on numerous occasions. Slamming the gas pedal will result in the tires trying to grip the pavement, but the traction control quickly kicks in.

The interior is styled very nicely. With a large amount of space to work with, the designers definitely tried their best to sculpt the materials to prevent the look of vast expanses of plastic and it is job well done for the most part. The dash has nice lines and fits well with the current Chevrolet styling theme. The interior was a very dark place with everything being dark charcoal (pretty close to black) and no sunroof option on this vehicle. The seats are wide and somewhat flat and, without question, these are seats made for Americans. I liked the front seatback design which is unique and looks nice. The second row tumbles forward to allow entrance to the third row which is not a place an adult will want to spend time, although a child will be comfortable and it folds flat at the pull of a handle. Another sign that this vehicle is made for Americans is the cup holders because they are literally everywhere.

The styling of the exterior is very conservative. The sides are very plain and almost slab sided. Upon looking further, you will notice a slight character line towards the bottom of the doors and one near the door handles. These are by no means strong lines, but rather soft. The lines all integrate with each other quite well, flowing from one panel to the next with no break. The front is the sharpest part of the vehicle. The dual port grille and the headlights show similarity to the rest of the new Chevrolet vehicles, while still being distinctly different. The overall exterior will not offend anyone and is by far the most conservative of the three other Lambda vehicles.

The Traverse I had was a 1LT with a sticker price of $31,745. The trailoring package, which included a heavy duty cooling system and trailer hitch, cost $525. The rear view camera system is a $450 option was done the right way, in my opinion. With no navigation optioned on this vehicle, the screen was integrated into the rear view mirror; very easy to use and convenient. The total sticker price after destination and options rang to $33,495, and while this is not cheap, it is competitive for its class.

The entire week I had the Traverse, I felt like I should be heading to the soccer field to pick up the kids. While the vehicle has more then enough power to get up and go, it is by no means sporty and that is not its intentions. The vehicle is a family hauler, designed and engineered to deliver the kids to soccer practice and make trips to Costco.

The competition is stiff in this segment and the Traverse is here for the fight. Naturally, the big blue oval is a competitor in the Ford Flex but actually, the Flex and the Traverse are completely different vehicles. I can not imagine someone that wants a Flex will even give the Traverse a second thought and vice versa.

In commercials, Chevrolet compares the Traverse to the Honda Pilot and, while both sport three rows of seating, the Traverse is the larger vehicle. Without a doubt, the Traverse is a highly competitive entry into a cut-throat segment and the vehicle I had at just over $33k is a decent alternative if you do not want a minivan. Chevrolet buyers finally have a vehicle that is not a minivan but can haul the family while achieving acceptable fuel economy

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

World of Wheels Comes to Mpls

This past weekend, Autorama’s World of Wheels show came to the Twin Cities.  This show travels around the nation and is one of the premier custom car show series.  The show itself is put on by Championship Auto Shows.  Sponsors include everyone from O’Reilly Auto Parts to Meguiar’s.  I went with Jason Pawelsky and we agreed, without question, that the show had its high points and low points.  So! Let’s get to it.

1970 Mach1 Mustang

Without a doubt, there were some really nice cars there.  A Ford Mustang club was in attendance with a booth filled with Mustangs.  One that really stood out was a 1970 Mach1 with gorgeous canary yellow paint. It was one of the highlights of the show and was just a great looking car. It looked terrific and was sitting next to a fourth generation Mach1 (circa 2000).  Not to be outdone, the Mustang section had competition from their fierce rival,  Camaro.  A Chevrolet Camaro club had a section with classic Camaros from yesteryear including a gorgeous Camaro SS featuring a 427 in the engine bay.  Of course, quite a few new Camaros were on the show floor as well, sitting next to their vintage elders.

1961 Chevrolet ImpalaA number of old Chevrolet 210 sedans, along with the older Corvettes, were scattered throughout the show floor.  A 1961 Chevrolet Impala was getting quite a bit of attention, probably because it was un-restored and yet looked great for its age.  The car’s paint was not terrific and the interior was slightly faded but many of these cars on the floor were full restorations so it was nice to see something that was original and in rather good condition.

Supercharged LS9 V8

Supercharged LS9 V8

Another highlight was a 1957 Chevrolet 210 2-door sedan.  This car was being done by L’Cars Automotive Specialties in Cameron, WI.  A customer brought the car to the fine people at L’Cars and they have created one heck of a beast for the lucky owners.  Starting with an Art Morrison GT sport chassis and a Ford 9 inch rear end, including a limited slip differential as the base, the engine is a crate supercharged LS9 V8 from the Corvette ZR1 with a Hennessy cold air intake feeding the engine.  The supercharged LS9 is pushing out 700 hp to the rear wheels and 650 ft-lb through a GM 6L80E six-speed automatic transmission.  The exhaust is a polished stainless steel set up from Borla with dual 2.5 inch oval tips in the rear.  The exhaust system has an electric cut out system with straight outlets under the car.  Bringing all this to a stop is 13 inch Wilwood drilled and slotted rotors in the front and rear with 6 piston calipers in the front and 4 piston calipers in the back.  This whole vehicle was 99% completed and they were just working out some fuel delivery issues.  Without a doubt, this was one of the coolest cars at the show.

1957 Chevrolet 210 2-door Sedan with supercharged LS9 V8

1957 Chevrolet 210 2-door Sedan with supercharged LS9 V8


Then there were the low points.  One of the saddest things I saw was a GNX and, if you know me at all, you know how much love and respect I have for the GNX.  It was just this particular GNX that just made me sad all over. I was excited when I saw it across the show floor but as I got closer and closer, my excitement turned to devastation.  The paint was in terrible condition with swirls all over and the rear window had a tint job that looks like a child performed the deed with a break in the middle of the rear window where a new piece of tint was spliced in.  The interior was actually in fairly decent condition but the engine bay, which needs no help after leaving the factory, was chromed out. From the ugly, oversized manifold in black and chrome to other oversized things, it was all over the place under the hood. Do not even get me started on the stickers! The thing was just a hot mess, except for the interior. There were more low points because several cars had terrible paint jobs with swirls in the finish.  It is one thing when you have original paint, but to restore a car with a new paint job and improperly use a buffer is just sad.

OMG its Doc Hudson!

Overall the experience was fun.  People were enjoying the cars and the atmosphere. A special attraction for the kids was the Hudson Hornet aka, Doc Hudson, from the movie Cars.  Friends know I am a huge Cars fan and so seeing Doc Hudson was yet another highlight for this big kid.  Overall, the show was a great way to spend a Winter Saturday afternoon as Spring and the season for fun cars approaches.

Major Reveals from the Detroit Auto Show

Aveo RS Concept

The current Aveo is pretty much less then competitive. Seen as the joke of the line up, no one really wants to like the current Aveo, which it is not hard to fault them. GM is serious about the next generation Aveo, and the Aveo RS concept gives a glimpse of what we will be getting. Of course the show car stuff, neon lights, center exhaust, huge wheels and brembo brakes probably will not make production.  I suppose the center exhaust on the Cadillac CTS Coupe concept made it to production, so who really knows. Hopefully an Aveo RS model will come along with the normal, “plain Jane” model. This is something a “tuner” could enjoy and maybe even have it be fun to drive.

I had the opportunity to look at the concept Aveo RS on stage up close. I was somewhat impressed with the details. The interior did have a “leather covered” dash though we will all be realistic knowing that it definitely will not make production. The seats were very well bolstered, and I am not sure that those particular seats will make production either. The gauge cluster will definitely make production and the center stack is more then likely the real deal. I actually had the opportunity to see the production exterior at the product technology event last August. The front facia on the Aveo RS Concept is very close. The exposed headlight bezels, dual port grill and sharp front clip are all there. The neon lights and other extras are more show than go and probably will not be in the production model. I will note, when we spoke with Ed Welburn it was asked if the RS model would get the show cars neon halo’s around the headlights. It would make sense for them to make it to production on the RS model due to the Camaro RS model having neon halo’s. It was suggested to Ed Welburn that all RS models should have the halos. I personally think this would be a great idea. We will see as the production Aveo should hit the sales floors in late 2010.

Buick Regal GS

The new Regal is not even on sale yet but Buick knows it needs to be a ringer. The LaCrosse started bringing in lower age customers and GM is hoping the new Regal for Buick will continue that trend to an even further extent. The new Regal will be hitting show rooms this spring, and this is certainly a preview of a production Regal GS to come. This is merely a rebadged Opel Insignia OPC, but with a different engine (according to the paperwork). I got some seat time in the Regal GS concept and the Recaro seats were phenomenal. The back seat was not quite as spacious as I thought it might be. I was comfortable in the car, but getting in and out was not an amazing experience. The C-pillar in the rear was quite close to my head, and I would have easily whacked my head upon exiting the rear had I not been paying attention. The rear has just enough head room with a fast roof line that cuts it close. The interior roof is sculpted out so you are not hitting your head. The front was very nice with the aforementioned seats, a flat bottom steering whee, and the six speed manual transmission, which felt like short throws.

GM is saying the GS model of the Regal would come with the optional 2.0 liter engine from the CXS trim variant but with more boost going through the turbo. GM is pegging the numbers at 250 hp and 295 ft-lb. This is all very interesting because the Opel Insignia OPC has a 2.8l turbo charge V6 putting out over 300 hp and 300 ft-lb. The problem with that engine is it is thirsty for gas. I think GM is trying to gauge the publics reaction to maybe a I4 instead of a V6 in the Regal GS variant. I asked if I could open the hood and was instantly told no! The press photos of this car showed a V6 engine cover which was the same engine cover in the Opel Insignia OPC. My guess is this was an Insignia OPC with swapped out badges, so the V6 was still under the hood. While we really do not know what engine will come, one thing is for sure, the Regal GS variant will probably be coming sooner then later. I for one am definitely ready to see if this can be a budget Audi S4 because that would really help stick Buick on the map. Afterall, that is what the Regal GS is supposed to do anyways.

2012 Ford Focus

The embargo was up and the pictures/specifications were, for the most part, out in the public view. That did not stop Ford from throwing one heck of a reveal for the upcoming 2012 Focus. Coming in both hatchback and sedan form, the new Focus gives us style and class, things the current Focus is sorely lacking. Let us not forget the awesome technology that will be available in the new Focus. That latest generation of Microsoft powered SYNC will be onboard and the new MyFord interface will of course be an option. Ford had one sedan and one hatch on display. I was given the opportunity to see the interior of the sedan up close. The quality of materials was terrific, though I was told this was a hand built one off vehicle. They are not even in preproduction, so I was not allowed to sit in it. The hatchback was off limits, so I was not able to touch that either. The wheels on these two at the show were 19 inches, but I would be surprised to see something that large even as an option. Interesting note about the gas cap on the hatch back, it is well integrated with cut lines and it somewhat blends in. That is just one example of how Ford stressed about the small stuff on this car. The new Focus will go into production late this year and hit dealerships in early 2011.

2011 Lincoln MKX

The refreshed 2011 Lincoln MKX made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show and it was truly a great spectacle. Ford had the woman who sings the song in one of the most recent Lincoln commercials on stage signing as the MKX came on stage. Of course the rest of the current Lincoln line up rolled onto stage with the exception of the Town Car. That was not a real shock, but notably absent nonetheless. The updated MKX gains the split wing grill that is quickly becoming Lincoln’s signature mark again. The rear has new tail lights and finally a back up camera is along for the ride. I note the back up camera because on the last generation it was not even an option! The interior materials get a major upgrade as does the design. The technology is all new with this being the first vehicle to get the now standard MyLincoln. This is the same thing as MyFord with the dual 4.1 inch screens on either side of the speedometer and an 8 inch touch screen on the center stack. The luxury crossover market is heating up and this is just another player that is helping to change the game.

Cadillac XTS Concept

Cadillac rolled out a concept they are calling the XTS. This vehicle foreshadows what we will see from GM as a replacement for the aging (not gracefully I might add) Cadillac STS and DTS. Riding on a stretched Buick LaCrosse platform, the XTS would come in both front wheel drive and all wheel drive. The concept is a dual mode plug-in hybrid featuring a direct injection V6 and an electric motor. It is supposedly putting out 350 hp and 295 ft-lb. There is definitely a good chance this powertrain, along with a regular gasoline engine, will make production for this vehicle. Technology is a high point for this car and it is very well connected. The center stack is essentially void of most buttons and mostly touch. The gauges are all virtual and everything is “connected.” The interior was gorgeous, and I am definitely interested to see what details from the concept make it to production. Speaking of production, we should see the XTS in showrooms for 2012/2013.

Honda CR-Z

Honda released the first hybrid in America to have a manual transmission. Many were hoping for a remake of the CRX, and to be frank, many have said they are disappointed. I think the main thing people are not happy about seems to be the lack of rear seats. The car itself does not even post amazing mileage numbers. The power will be provided by a 1.5 liter making 122 horsepower while estimated to get 36/38 mpg. This is all mated to the CVT (continuously variable transmission). The manual transmission seriously kills the gas mileage, taking it down to an estimated 31/37 mpg. The CR-Z will come in two trim levels and will probably have a base price around $18,000 when sales start later this summer.

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S was there along with two Roadster Sports. The Roadster Sports start their lives as a Lotus and get gutted by Tesla to receive the battery pack and electric drivetrain. The Model S is the next production vehicle we will see from Tesla. This four door “sedan,” the Model S, has a rear hatch instead of a traditional trunk which allows room for the optional jump seat. This would make it so the sedan can seat seven, though the extra two in the jump seats will be small children only. The interior has almost no buttons or switches. The center stack is one large touch screen with virtual switches to flick and swipe. The door handles are flush with the car and slide out when you touch them. The whole thing is quite impressive. Some call this car vaporware, meaning it will never see production or be on sale. The honest truth is those same people said that the Tesla Roadster was vaporware and that car has been on sale and is already in the hands of many happy owners. Tesla says the Model S should see production in the next few years.

Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations were provided by General Motors

AutoBird Podcast Episode 10

Episode 10 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included 2009 sales numbers, and my post about why strippers are important.  We move along to talk about NAIAS (the Detroit Auto Show) and the things we will be seeing.  That list includes the next generation Ford Focus, the Chevrolet Aveo RS concept, Ford’s MyFord, and the Buick Regal GS concept.  Next we discuss the new Dodge naming scheme and announced Chrysler powertrain updates.  The last topic continues to be the Saab story that continues to unfold.

Download this episode (right click and save)

The Regal is Back! Will it Sell?

2011 Buick Regal

2011 Buick Regal

Last week General Motors announced they would officially be bringing back the Buick Regal.  The car is set to arrive in spring of next year as a 2011 model.  The car will launch with a base 2.4 liter four cylinder that puts out 182 hp while returning 30 mpg on the highway.  Later in the summer, a 2.0 liter turbo four cylinder that puts out 220 hp will launch.  The more powerful engine will still manage 29 mpg on the highway.  The list of specifications reads like a list of what Buick needs to get customers to both show up in the showrooms and buy their cars.  The car may look familiar to some of you, and that is because the car is a rebadged Opel Insignia.  The car that instantly won Car of the Year in Europe and is already selling well as a Buick Regal in China.  The turbo model will come with “Interactive Drive Control System.”  This will have four different driver selectable suspension settings.  GM has not gone into detail about the system yet though it sounds promising.

2011 Buick Regal Interior

2011 Buick Regal Interior

The main question is simple, will this car sell?  Buick already has the new LaCrosse and the Enclave, both of which are being viewed as successes so far and selling quite well.  GM knows they need more home runs and more foot traffic in the showroom.  The Regal should bring a lower entry price point into the Buick showrooms.  GM is hoping that, in itself, will lower the age of the customers.  While we do not know pricing yet, we can naturally assume the Regal will be priced both aggressively and will undercut the new LaCrosse somewhat significantly.  I personally think, from the specifications we know so far, this car will definitely help both Buick and General Motors.  My only hope is that the rumors of a GS (GS stands for Grand Sport) model come true.  That would not only be an epic move on GM’s part, but also drive huge foot traffic that might otherwise not come near the Buick showroom.  Bob Lutz actually recently told Car and Driver that they are considering a version for the new Buick Regal to be Regal GS.  It would essentially be a rebadged Insignia OPC.  It would push somewhere along the lines of 335 hp and all wheel drive and possibly have the trick torque vectoring rear end.  Finish all this off with a six speed manual transmission and a reasonable price point that would obviously going to undercut the Germans, and everyone else that would compete, and you have a recipe for huge success.  I truly believe that GM needs a model like the Regal with a GS trim level.  It will show how serious they really are about growing their market share and changing the image of Buick once and for all.  Hey GM, I want a Regal GS, I want it now, and a wagon variant would not hurt.

Note- Hakim Givens created a mock up of what a Regal GS wagon variant might look like.


Concept of what a Regal GS wagon might look like- Image by Hakim Givens

2011 Buick Regal

2011 Buick Regal

Opel Insignia OPC

Opel Insignia OPC

Opel Insignia OPC

Opel Insignia OPC