Upcoming: 2012 Buick Verano

Industry News / Comments

There's no doubt that Buick is finding its groove again. It's been too many decades being an old man's car, as opposed to the daily driver of an up and coming young professional. Buick is back with products like the new Regal that promise to be true driver's cars with all of the passion and performance of their earlier ancestors. With the exception of the Lucerne, the entire Buick lineup is modern, high quality, and most importantly, competitive.

In addition to the Regal, the Lacrosse and Enclave are everything a true modern Buick should be. With this in mind, Buick is looking to expand with something that continues to appeal to Gen-Y. If rumors prove correct, in about a year from now we'll be seeing the Verano come to market. Based off the Delta II platform (which also underpins Chevrolet Cruze and Opel Astra), the Verano is a clear sign of Buick's thinking. Instead of building a replacement for the rapidly aging Lucerne, Buick continues to downsize. They feel there's a market for, shall we say, a luxury Cruze that eerily reminds me of the Cadillac Cimarron.

For now though, let's give Buick the benefit of the doubt they won't make the same mistakes of the "Old GM." With Buick's apparent choice, it seems they're predicting that gas prices will never return to their once dirt cheap rates. The era of big sedans and their gas guzzler V8s is over. With the exception of sport sedans like the Cadillac CTS, these rear-wheel drive cars will no longer be large cruisers like the Ford Crown Victoria and pretty much the old Buick lineup. I happen to think they're right, but don't rule out a new large rear drive sedan with a turbocharged V6 in the future.

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For now, Buick is hoping to try again in the small car market with the Verano. Already on sale in China (where it's known as the Excelle), it has a 138 horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder and an optional 180 horsepower turbocharged 1.6 liter four. These sound like logical choices for the US, but no final decisions have been made. The question that I still can't find an answer for is how on earth Buick expects to convince those coveted younger buyers into a brand where the average buyer is 65. In China, the average buyer is only 28.

I'm very happy that Buick is working hard and succeeding to improve its image in the US. It's long past due to reinvent itself and reemerge as the brand it once was. The only question is whether a car like the Verano is part of the answer or just a return to the days of badge engineering. We'll hopefully be getting some answers this winter.

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