Posts Tagged ‘2011 Buick Regal’

AWD or Stability Control: Which Is More Important?

Stability control may be the most important auto safety technology in a generation, but there's still a place for AWD.

by on Dec.16, 2010

Subaru's WRX STi puts its power to all four wheels.

The day after this week’s blizzard, a co-worker asked if I had driven my all-wheel-drive Subaru or the 2011 Buick Regal I happened to be testing.

AWD traction would seem to be a big advantage, and considering that I have a 55-mile commute, I’ll take all the advantages I can get.

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But the Subaru is a 10-year-old warrior, so, while it does have anti-lock brakes, it doesn’t have the latest safety devices such as traction control or stability control. So, even thought the Regal puts power down through its front wheels only, I’ll take the modern car in most circumstances over the older one, even if it is driving all four wheels.

Traction control and stability control are that important. In the old days, you wanted a limited-slip differential to keep the wheel with the least amount of traction from spinning. But traction control effectively replaces the limited slip, in many respects. By selectively braking the wheel with the least traction, the wheel that can get the best bite gets some of the power.

First Drive: 2011 Buick Regal

Reinventing a stodgy old brand.

by on Jun.01, 2010

Once written off for dead, the launch of the 2011 Buick Regal could continue rebuilding the brand's momentum.

There were plenty of surprises when General Motors made it through bankruptcy, last year, including not only the demise of the Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab divisions – but the decision to keep Buick.

Founded in 1899 as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, it was sold, in 1903, by David Dunbar Buick and his partners to the company that would become GM.  Today the oldest surviving Amerian auto brand, the once-powerful Buick is but a shadow of its former self, sales plunging 90% over the last two decades.

Yet there have been recent signs of life, new products such as the Enclave crossover and LaCrosse sedan not only surging in sales but bringing in the sort of young, affluent buyers who long steered clear of the stodgy old marque.  Could Buick be hip again?  The real test is likely to come with the launch of the 2011 Buick Regal.

Ironically, the new midsize sedan wasn’t originally supposed to be a Buick.  What’s now badged Regal was originally a joint development pairing GM’s European brand, Opel, and North America’s Saturn.  When the latter division was abandoned by GM, the sedan got a new nameplate and grille, much to Buick’s good fortune.

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While the American sedan is just getting ready to roll into showrooms, the European version has been on sale for the better part of a year under the Opel Insignia badge, and has been winning rave reviews and plenty of new buyers.  If our first long drive of the 2011 Buick Regal is any indication, the same thing may soon happen here.


Buick Back From the Dead

Maker planning three more models.

by on May.06, 2010

With sales of the 2010 LaCrosse up 214%, so far this year, Buick officials are betting the brand can double its overall volume.

“I just don’t understand why General Motors kept Buick and killed Pontiac,” suggested the gentleman sitting next to me on the flight back from Los Angeles, yesterday.  There are a lot of folks who echo that sentiment, though they might substitute Saturn or even long-gone Oldsmobile as the brand that should have survived GM’s bankruptcy.

Until recently, there was really just one reason why thye long-troubled Buick brand remained part of the automaker’s shrinking line-up.  In a word, said GM design czar Ed Welburn, “China.”  While Buick has shrunk to little more than an asterisk on the sales charts in the U.S., it is one of the top sellers in what is now the world’s largest and fastest-growing auto market.

But those who’ve written off the Buick brand for dead, at least here in the States may be in for a surprise.  Indeed, the once-grand nameplate is not just treading water but looking to grow, with three new models on tap.

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Signs of a turnaround began to appear, several years ago, with the launch of the big Buick Enclave crossover. Last year brought the launch of an all-new LaCrosse, and the midsize sedan has been exceeding even Buick’s optimistic expectations, LaCrosse sales climbing steadily for seven months and hitting their highest retail mark in April – sales for the year up 214%.

“We are starting to gain traction in sales,” proclaimed Buick’s marketing chief, John Schwegman, during an “immersion” meeting, this week.  “But we’re not declaring victory yet.”


Lutz Says Show Me the Numbers

The numbers put it all in perspective….maybe.

by on Dec.21, 2009

Show me the numbers, says GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, referring to Buick's claims.

"Show me the numbers," says GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, when told of Buick's claims.

There are numbers, damn numbers and statistics.  Just ask the Buick folks.

The long-troubled brand has steadily seen those numbers dwindle, over the decades, though there have been a few small but important bright spots, lately, starting with the launch of the Enclave crossover and running up to the debut of the new LaCrosse.


How bright?  As it seems to always happen at press previews, Buick’s product marketing director, it was Craig Bierely’s compulsory role to put a positive spin on things, telling a captive crowd of journalists that since the LaCrosse sedan went on sale, late this year, the troubled division’s conquest sales of import buyers had quadrupled.


GM Jettisons Another Japanese Partner

First, Toyota and NUMMI. Now, Suzuki and CAMI.

by on Dec.04, 2009

The first 2005 Chevy Equinox rolls off the line at the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario on February 20, 2004.

First Chevy Equinox off the line at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, February 2004.

General Motors of Canada today announced that it would acquire 100% ownership of CAMI Automotive Incorporated through a transaction to buy shares currently owned by long-time 50% partner Suzuki Motor Corporation.

GM previously ended a link with Suzuki in Asia during November 2008.

No financial details of the latest transaction were released, and it should have no effect on potential customers.

Last June, GM abandoned its pioneering joint venture, NUMMI, with Toyota Motor Corporation in Fremont, California. Toyota has since decided to close the plant located in its largest U.S. market.

GM’s latest move is in keeping with employment agreements with the federal and provincial Canadian governments that were part of the taxpayer financing agreements necessary to bring GM out of bankruptcy in July.


Buick Regal to be Built, Eventually, in Canada

GM makes good on loans from Canadian governments.

by on Nov.25, 2009

Only four cylinder engines and the highest trim level to start.

Only four cylinder engines and the highest trim level to start for the German Regal.

North American production of the all-new 2011 Buick Regal will start at the Oshawa Car Assembly plant beginning in Ontario during the first quarter of 2011.

Until then, a rebadged and recalibrated version of the Opel Insignia will be imported from Rüsselsheim, Germany starting in the second quarter of 2010.

The status of all Opel plants is uncertain today. GM continues to seek financing from European governments and concessions from union members for its loss-making subsidiary after its surprise decision not to sell Opel to Magna earlier this month.

GM maintains that it will keep the German plants open after large cutbacks in the workforce. An Opel plant in Belgium appears to be slated for closing under the latest plan. Almost $5 billion is thought to be required to restructure Opel and GM is only prepared (or able?) to front about 15% of that.

A Buick version of the car is already in production in China since last December, but GM says it has no plans to import Regal from the far east.

That could change quickly if Opel collapses, of course. GM reported a $1.2 billion loss in its latest quarter, the first one since it emerged from bankruptcy this past July. It is unclear if GM can continue to carry Opel for very long without billions of dollars in government assistance. The  private credit markets are unlikely to advance the ailing company any money without the government loan guarantees GM has been seeking.

The Regal is a mid-size sport sedan based on the award-winning Opel Insignia – the 2009 European Car of the Year. Whether such attributes can return potential buyers to North American showrooms where Buick is struggling remains to be seen. Year-to-date, U.S. Buick sales are down 33% in a market that is off 24%.  It is ironic that the brand long associated with Flint, Michigan, is now stronger in China than its home country.

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“The new Regal gives Buick a modern performance sedan and its production here in Oshawa is terrific news for our employees, the CAW, dealers and suppliers,” says Arturo Elias, president, General Motors of Canada.


First Look: The 2011 Buick Regal

Two four-cylinder sporty sedans coming from Buick via Opel.

by on Nov.12, 2009


Regal will first be offered in premium CXL trim only. Other trim levels come in 2012.

Buick is taking an Opel Insignia sport sedan, adding the existing Chinese grille and Regal badges and bringing it to America during the second quarter of next year.

For the first 15 months of sale, Regal will be imported from Rüsselsheim, Germany, before a yet unspecified North American assembly site comes on stream.

There are no plans to import the Regal from China, where it is also currently made, with more than 64,000 in sales since production started last December.

Later today in Los Angeles, an estimated 600 Buick owners and potential customers culled from German and Japanese sport sedan owners will have the chance to test-drive the top of the line CXL versions of the mid-size car.


With fenders flared to wrap around the tires, it’s a common look not used in recent Buicks.

The last time Buick tried this with a rebadged Saturn hybrid, reaction was so negative that Buick canceled the program it had just announced a fortnight or so before.

This time around – “kissing the dragon,” marketing slang for talking to breathing customers instead of idealized, fictional ones – might not be so bad since the Opel is universally acclaimed as a solid product.

So out in la-la land where GM is a mere footnote to sales tables, “intenders” will get a shot at the performance-oriented, front-wheel-drive CXL. They will test, what could be weeks or months  ahead of the media, a sport model with an optional 2-liter, direct injected four-cylinder engine that is said to provide more power than Japanese V6 engines in competitors.

Preliminary ratings here of 220 horsepower (164 kW) and 258 pound feet of torque should make this CSX a mid-seven-second zero-to-6o mph car. The 2.0L turbo uses a twin-scroll turbocharger that is said to build power quickly at lower rpms. Would they dare badge it Gran Sport, nailhead fans?

All these assertions await test drives to prove their veracity. However, previous personal experience with Jim Federico, the chief engineer on this program, who cheerfully explained the car to me, has shown that his predicted numbers are accurate. It’s too bad that this turbo option will not appear until late-summer 2010.