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  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist

    Hybrid five-passenger sport sedan

    By Nina Russin

    2012 Buick Regal with eAssist

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Buick’s transformation is General Motors’ most significant accomplishment following the restructure. Ten years ago, who could have imagined that the brand which once pinned its hopes on a tepid remake of the Roadmaster would re-enter the market with a sport sedan designed on two continents and validated in Europe?

    But that’s exactly what happened. The new Buick Regal, with an available turbocharged engine is poised for combat against European and Asian luxury brands which members of its upscale target market might cross-shop. In short, Buick product planners are taking names and leaving no prisoners.

    For 2012, Buick ups the ante by adding a mild hybrid to the Regal line-up. An electric motor, lithium-ion battery and regenerative braking technology stretch gas mileage for the base 2.4-liter engine by up to 25 percent. Average fuel economy is 29 miles-per-gallon according to EPA estimates. In my 100-mile test drive, I averaged slightly better: 30.1 miles-per-gallon

    Base price is $34,470, excluding the $860 delivery charge. The eAssist package, which includes 17-inch alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tires, adds $2000. Buyers save $50 on the model by eliminating redundant turn signal indicators on the outside mirrors.

    New infotainment technology developed by Chevrolet enables drivers to access Pandora and Stitcher using their smart phones. Chevrolet MyLink comes with a unique color touchscreen display, streaming Bluetooth audio, satellite radio, and available navigation with real-time weather and traffic updates. The navigation-enabled version costs $1145.

    A power sunroof adds $1000 to the MSRP, bringing the price as tested to $34,470. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium

    Luxury for the real world

    By Nina Russin

    2012 Buick Enclave

    The Enclave is Buick’s full-sized crossover vehicle, with seating for up to eight passengers. While the 2012 car is basically a carryover, Buick has eliminated the CX and CXL badges. Four available trim levels for 2012 include the base 1SB, mid-grade 1SD, mid-grade with leather 1SL and 1SN premium.

    Hill-hold assist, a safety feature which hangs onto the brakes to prevent the car from sliding backwards on steep grades, is now standard. So is electronic pedal override: a new technology which reduces engine power if the driver inadvertently depresses the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time.

    Power comes from a 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated at 288 horsepower and six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can choose between front or all-wheel drive.

    The test car is the all-wheel drive premium grade, priced from $45,080. MSRP does not include the $810 delivery charge. Standard convenience features include leather trim, first and second-row captain’s chairs, remote keyless entry and start, a premium audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, heated and cooled seats.

    Standard safety features include six airbags, stability control and OnStar emergency crash response. Adaptive headlamps, which swivel according to steering inputs to light dark corners of the road, are also standard.

    A navigation and rear seat DVD option adds real-time XM traffic and weather updates ($3185). A power sunroof with a second-row glass roof panel costs $1400, while metallic red paint adds $395. Twenty-inch chrome rims are a $300 option, bringing the price as tested to $51,170. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2010 Buick Lacrosse CXS

    Featured-packed luxury sedan from Buick appeals to a new generation

    by Jim Woodman

    Buick LaCrosse CXS

    If you haven’t driven a Buick lately, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. For many of us who grew up in an age where Buick owners were either your grandparents or their parents, it’s always been hard to wrap your head around adding Buick to your short list of car choices.Any self-respecting young professional worried about status and perception should be looking at Lexus, BMW or Mercedes, right? Well … maybe not. It’s time to put away those old biases and start looking at how the American manufacturers are packing a lot of luxury features into cars that quite honestly rival their foreign counterparts at thousands less.

    On a recent visit to Miami, I had the opportunity to drive the 2010 Buick Lacrosse CXS and came away duly impressed. Most telling was when I picked up one of my sisters at the airport and, after a few minutes of idle chit chat, she commented on how luxurious the car was. “What kind of car is this?” It’s a Buick Lacrosse, I explained.

    “This is a Buick?” she replied. “I had no idea they made cars this nice inside.”

    It got me thinking either Buick has done a lousy job at marketing or old biases die very hard.

    Before you think this is all about me blowing smoke up the Lacrosse’s tail pipe, I’m by no means suggesting this car is a runaway segment leader. I’m simply trying to make the point that GM, and Buick specifically, has made tremendous strides in appealing to a hipper, younger and a more tech savvy audience whose idea of roughing it is going without a café latte while camping in their air-conditioned RV.

    Okay, enough rambling about Buick’s terrible brand perception and on to the whole point of this article.

    While certainly borrowing a lot of ideas from Cadillac, the body style is uniquely Buick. The roofline slopes back toward the trunk and looks a little bit like a Lexus GS sedan. While I really like the look, the only slight negative is that it leaves smaller rear windows and more of a blind spot if you’re doing a quick head check. Though if you adjust your mirrors correctly, blind spots aren’t an issue. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2011 Buick Regal

    Mid-sized sport sedan rolls out on three continents

    By Nina Russin

    2011 Buick Regal

    2011 Buick Regal

    General Motors’ restructuring transformed Buick from a premium to a core brand. Product planners are reconfiguring the model line-up to appeal to a broader audience.

    The former Buick Regal was an American design for American drivers. The 2011 model, based on the Opel Insignia, was developed in Germany for buyers in North America, Europe and China.

    Both available engines are fuel-efficient four-cylinder blocks. Base models come with a naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter engine rated at 182 horsepower. The upscale 2-liter turbocharged engine develops 220 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque, for enhanced low-end acceleration.

    For the first time in decades, Buick is offering a six-speed manual gearbox on turbo-equipped cars. An interactive drive control system lets the driver adjust the suspension settings for a firmer or softer ride.

    By giving the new Regal a distinctly European character, Buick hopes to appeal to younger driving enthusiasts, who will cross shop Asian and European luxury models such as the Acura TL and Volvo S60.

    Buick’s ace-in-the-hole is value pricing. Both the base and turbocharged grades start at under $30,000, including destination and delivery.

    All cars come with a high level of standard safety features: four-channel antilock braking, stability and traction control, six standard airbags and OnStar, which automatically notifies the police and medical personnel if the airbags deploy. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL

    Global design team reinvents Buick’s full-sized sedan

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Buick LaCrosse

    2010 Buick LaCrosse

    My love affair with cars began with a ‘64 Buick Wildcat convertible that lived down the street from me. Its 401-cubic inch V8 engine seemed to stretch from one side of the county to the other. The exhaust note was epic. A standard three-speed manual transmission made it easy to melt the tires: something my parents never shared my appreciation for.

    Over subsequent decades, Buick lost its way, acquiring a reputation for lackluster performance, with styling to match. It was heartbreaking to see the brand that revolutionized car design with Harley Earl’s Y-Job concept car relegated to the far reaches of nursing home parking lots.

    Recently, Buick reversed the tide with the Enclave crossover vehicle, geared towards active lifestyles. Last summer, Buick introduced an all-new LaCrosse, using a global design team to recreate the full-sized sedan for younger buyers.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2010 Buick LaCrosse

    Designers take a global approach to Buick’s newest sedan

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Buick LaCrosse

    2010 Buick LaCrosse

    The new General Motors brings with it four core brands: Chevrolet and GMC, both volume leaders, and the more upscale Buick and Cadillac. GM execs know that Buick’s turnaround hinges on bringing younger buyers into the showroom. The Enclave crossover vehicle was the first Buick designed for drivers with active lifestyles.

    The 2010 LaCrosse sedan appeals to a similar market. It is the first American car built on GM’s global midsize architecture: the same platform used for the Opel Insignia. Buick is targeting two markets: the United States and China. Designers made the LaCrosse four inches longer than the Opel, translating to more room in the back seats and trunk.

    The LaCrosse engineering team, based in Europe, included members from North America and Asia. A team in Shanghia designed the car’s interior, while a group out of Detroit penned the exterior. Although the LaCrosse is a huge departure from Buicks that came before it, the team kept the brand’s design heritage in mind, incorporating portholes, the waterfall grille, and sweep spears in the beltlines from classic models. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2009 Buick Enclave CX

    Not your father’s Buick (and that’s a good  thing)

    By Nina Russin

    2009 Buick Enclave

    2009 Buick Enclave

    When I was a kid, the coolest car on the block was a  Buick Wildcat that one of the neighbors owned. Its Nailhead V-8 engine roared like a tiger; the air filter was the size of a landing strip. When I looked under the hood of that car, I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license.

    As time passed, Buick lost its path: sporty Invictas gave way to milk toast sedans. As a result, the circle of Buick loyalists aged and shrank: a subject of justifiable concern to company execs. Buick needed a clean sheet of paper. The Enclave cross-utility vehicle is just that.

    With seating for up to eight passengers, the Buick Enclave is an affordable cross-utility vehicle for young families on the go. Available with either front or all-wheel drive, the Enclave has the features active buyers look for: a V-6 engine with good gas mileage, and a versatile interior.

    Available all-wheel drive improves the Enclave’s all-weather performance. Towing capacity is 4500 pounds.

    Standard OnStar automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel when the airbags deploy. Other standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability control, front, side and side curtain airbags.

    While the Enclave’s base price of $34,130 puts it in our luxury class, the car is less expensive than other vehicles in its competitive segment. GM’s powertrain warranty covers any repairs due to manufacturing up to 100,000 miles. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2008 Buick Enclave CXL

    By Jim Woodman

    2008 Buick Enclave

    2008 Buick Enclave

    Okay, I don’t want to be too harsh here but, sorry GM, I’ve never been a Buick fan. Sure, one could argue Buicks are well built, reliable luxury cars. But there’s always been something just a little off … something missing. When it came to competing with the imports, Buick just couldn’t deliver the goods. And, lest we forget, only old people buy Buicks, right?

    Well, Buick bashers, prepare to have everything you’ve ever thought turned upside down. There’s a new kid on the block – the Enclave – and it’s not only turning heads but it may just be the ticket Buick needs to shed its decaying dinosaur image.

    The Buick Enclave is a Crossover SUV and arguably the best Buick ever, one that breaks the mold and will get many folks like me rethinking this battered brand. My wife fell in love with the Enclave and, without a doubt, this car will be on our short list when shopping for a new family vehicle.

    Crossover SUVs

    Crossovers are the latest buzz in automotive jargon. They’re sort of a cross – or mix if you prefer – between SUVs, minivans and sedans. If you consider what we’re doing here at with our annual Active Lifestyle Vehicles (ALV) awards, a Crossover is probably the closest example of an all-around ALV. The Enclave fits our ALV mold like a glove.

    The Enclave shares its foundation with GM’s latest batch of Crossovers, including the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia. But the Buick is positioned as the most luxurious and, in that regard, it doesn’t disappoint.

    Inside the spacious cabin, you’ll be dazzled by the array of luxury touches. A mahogany wood steering wheel contrasts well with authentic-looking faux burl woodgrain. I really liked the aluminum accents and chrome rings around the recessed and blue-lighted speedometer, tachometer, voltage, fuel and temperature gauges. A round analog clock, very similar to Infiniti’s signature style, sits above an in-dash AM/FM Stereo/CD/MP3 player.

    My vehicle was also outfitted with XM Satellite Radio and, one of the very cool features, mostly because of its simplicity and practicality, was that I could mix my station settings across bands. Simply stated, instead of having to switch bands to listen to Satellite or FM radio, I could mix the memory settings so that some buttons could be Satellite, while others could be my favorite AM or FM stations. A digital display, above each button, also shows what station each button is programmed to.

    A tilt and telescoping steering wheel, tri-zone climate control and smart-slide second row seat round out an impressive collection of standard features we’ve come to expect in a luxury vehicle.

    A bold Buick front grille, rounded corners and stylish Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps give the Enclave a distinct, handsome appearance. My CXL came with 19″ chrome wheels, a $1,495 option, which only accentuated this stunningly good-looking vehicle.

    The Enclave comes in CX and CXL trim levels. Leather is included in the upscale CXL trim. Both have a standard seven-passenger seating configuration via second-row captain’s chairs and a third-row bench seat. An optional second-row bench seat, available for no extra charge, increases capacity to eight. Second and third row seats are a cinch to fold flat, and moving between the second and third rows is much like a minivan.

    The 60/40 split third row seat allowed me to easily place my bike in either the 40 or 60 portion while one of my sons sat in the other seat. I had the captain’s chairs version which makes for a very elegant interior.

    With all three rows of seats in place, there was still plenty of storage area behind the third row. The Enclave also boasts a power liftgate for accessing the rear cabin behind the third row of seats. Call me soft, but I’m starting to really like having a power liftgate that can be activated from the remote or button on the liftgate. There’s actually nothing more convenient than having an armful of groceries and simply clicking a button and watching the gate close automatically.

    Installing my two year-old’s car seat into one of the captain’s chairs was a breeze. Latches and tether hooks were well placed and easy to get to.

    Perfect Minivan Alternative

    Essentially, the Enclave is a perfect minivan alternative for those that don’t want to digress to soccer mom or minivan status. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. I’ve been a happy minivan owner for over five years but, I’ll have to admit, these large Crossover SUVs are way cooler looking and just as functional from a cargo and passenger carrying perspective.

    But what really impressed me was how whisper quiet the Enclave was inside. Thanks to Buick’s focus on reducing noise, the Enclave is one of the quietest vehicles on the road. Tire, wind, and road noise are virtually non-existent thanks to the engineer’s focus on damping all the bad sound.

    For those – me included – who’ve always thought of Buicks as “soft,” you’ll be shocked and surprised to find the Enclave boasts tight steering and suspension to give you a terrific feel of the road. Interestingly, I had just tested the Saturn Outlook, a formidable cousin of the Enclave, and found its steering to be the typical soft I’ve come to expect from American automakers. While Americans have traditionally loved power steering, today’s driver wants variable power steering that tightens up nicely as you increase speed. The Enclave is outstanding in this regard and nothing like Buicks of the past.

    The 3.6 liter 6-speed automatic transmission spits out 275 horsepower and is an adequate accelerator. For stat geeks, 0-60mph is achieved in 8.2 seconds. If there was one negative to the Enclave it was that every once in a while, and this only happened at slow speeds (less than 25 mph), there was a hesitation to downshift. Other than that, the automatic transmission performed flawlessly. Shifting was crisp and smooth.

    The Enclave also comes in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive version, which delivers slightly less fuel economy. For a vehicle this size, the 16/24 city/highway driving EPA is pretty impressive. Many SUVs don’t even get over 20mpg on the highway. If you step up to AWD, your Enclave delivers 16/22 mpg.

    The Enclave also features traction and stability control systems in addition to a tire pressure monitoring system and all the typical safety features you expect nowadays: antilock brakes plus front, side and curtain side airbags. Enclave also received five star government safety ratings for both frontal and side crash impacts.

    As I mentioned up front, if you’re inclined to steer away from Buick because of past impressions or perceptions, the Enclave is sure to change your thinking. In a crowded field of SUVs, Crossovers and Minivans, the Enclave is not only a breath of fresh air, but it may very well restore your faith in American ingenuity and craftsmanship.

    Quick Facts:

    Base price: $34,255
    Price as tested: $37,780
    Horsepower: 275 Hp @ 6600 r.p.m.
    Torque: N/A
    0 to 60: 8.2 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: No
    Towing: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Fuel economy: 16/24 m.p.g. city/highway