FIVE MINUTES ON THE road in a V8-powered 2004 Rainier sport/utility vehicle will make it abundantly clear what the future of GM’s Buick division looks like, or sounds like, or actually doesn’t sound like.
General Motors product czar Bob Lutz and the corporation’s management team have decided that Buick—closing in on its 100th anniversary in the car-making business on May 19—will become GM’s Lexus-like division. Cadillac is well into a plan to remake itself in the image of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, so the refined Teutonic performance front is covered. But Buick, suggests Lutz, could become the domestic equivalent of Toyota’s luxury brand—at least from a noise, vibration and harshness perspective.
This will become obvious, says Lutz, with the Rainier (above), due in September as Buick’s first model from the line of SUVs that now includes Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and the soon-to-depart Oldsmobile Bravada. It was indeed a drive in a specially prepared TrailBlazer that convinced Lutz and GM CEO and chairman-designate Rick Wagoner that ultraquiet and ultrasmooth is the way for Buick to go.
Lutz says he told the SUV engineering team to stuff every bit of soundproofing and NVH-deadening they could into a test TrailBlazer, which he and Wagoner took for a drive. Both men were impressed with the results, Lutz says, so the decision to go Lexus-like was born.
Toyota points out that there’s a lot more to the success of its Lexus brand than an unearthly quiet at speed. There is the exceptional fit-and-finish, along with fine interior accoutrements and a legendary quality record. Lutz acknowledges those points, and says he is aiming Buick in the same direction. For the moment, however, Lutz is encouraged by Buick’s advances on NVH, since he believes that will be a key ingredient to the marque’s success. The other things have different teams staying up late, he notes, with their advances to be measured at a later time.
Though everyone at Buick and GM’s product development teams is concerned with the future of the old “doctor’s car” marque, which built cars that were “powerful, substantial, distinctive and mature” through the 1990s, no one is in crisis mode.
Many of the brand’s aging car lines are selling well, along with the more youth-oriented Rendezvous crossover SUV. A more powerful and upscale version of the Rendezvous, the Ultra, debuts at the New York Auto Show featuring GM’s new 3.6-liter dohc V6.
Buick also has the most famous and successful sports personality in the world on its side—golfer Tiger Woods. Woods will stay exclusive to Buick, Lutz affirms, and the brand will become even more related to golf, with Cadillac stepping back.
Lutz hopes to make a generational leap with Buick, taking it back to the children of the baby boomers who generally ignored the brand because their parents admired it. Buick will continue to sell its LeSabres and Park Avenues quietly to boomer parents, while pitching Woods and the Rendezvous to anyone under the age of 40.
And setting its sights on the growing market of those aspiring to sit in the lap of Lexus-like luxury.
Was this was Oldsmobile was going for? Buick's Park Avenue is already a pretty nice car. If they're going to make their cars with less road-noise, softer suspensions and keep up with everything else they're doing - I think they'll be fine..
Though I never really understood why Oldsmobile was dropped. Too little, too late?
I never did either, i guess people werent buying because if they wanted a fast looking car that was still economical, they got chevy or pontiac, and if they wanted economical luxuary they got buick....
Cause Olds used to be muscle car with a 455 engine that apealed to "mature" (old) people. Now they have little crappy 4 bangers and DOHC V8s borrowed from Cadillac, and the FWD. They're not floaty anymore, which they thought was and accompishment, so old people didnt like them. That leaves one customer left. Someone who wants muscle and performance. It has a 4 banger and is FWD. Enough said. If GM would simply converts most of their line to RWD with AWD as an option, people might acutally start considering them.
Originally posted by 03EscaladeAWD Cause Olds used to be muscle car with a 455 engine that apealed to "mature" (old) people. Now they have little crappy 4 bangers and DOHC V8s borrowed from Cadillac, and the FWD. They're not floaty anymore, which they thought was and accompishment, so old people didnt like them. That leaves one customer left. Someone who wants muscle and performance. It has a 4 banger and is FWD. Enough said. If GM would simply converts most of their line to RWD with AWD as an option, people might acutally start considering them.
Well, in the early 80's Oldsmobile was given the goal to make a performance-bred 4banger with decent power, economical, reliable and fun. They made the Quad4. to make a long story short, it is a very nice engine, one of the first high performance DOHC 4bangers mass produced (before that it was like little 1.6L in Chevettes etc..) the Quad was was the pioneer to such enignes as the NorthStar and Auora, they are heavily based off the Quad4. no Quad4 and no N*
I am sad to see Oldsmobile go..... they were around for ever, and made nice engines.... the old Rocket was really nice, the old big black, the 307 which had no power at all but was reliable like crazy and would never, ever die, then the Quad4.
It's sad that the Grand Am, Pontiacs best selling car will be dropped also for the new G6 concept.
I loved that 307, too. I had a 1985 Delta 88 that I bought new. Once, on a trip from Memphis to Gulfport I got 25 mpg with the A/C running all the way.
I didn't appreciate the build quality and comfort of those cars back then. Now I'd give almost anything to find a comparable car at a comparable price. Maybe that's why I'm so interested in Cadillacs again.
I really hope GM's goal is a success. I mean its not like Buicks competing against Bentley or something, ITS TOYOTA FOR CHRISTS SAKE!!!! Shove the Japanese market back to where it belongs, in Asia, and leave North America for the American-European competition.
Re: Domestic Lexus? GM to remake Buick in Toyota’s lux marque’s image
Originally Posted by 03EscaladeAWD
Shove the Japanese market back to where it belongs, in Asia, and leave North America for the American-European competition.
That would be an easier task if it were not for American customers preferring imports over domestic made cars year after year. Hey, Lutz is just now turning GM around from being a pathetic company not far from collapse. The Japanese have been building quaility for years now. Lutz will catch them...in time.
Edited to add:
Buick attracting younger buyers? FWD, rides like a boat, handles like boat, looks like boat. Nope, not gonna happen anytime soon. At least Olds was trying to change their image. If Buick wants to go after Lexus/BMW, they have one hell of a long way to go. No doubt Lexus is just peeing thersevleves over this recent announcement.
Its not something they cant do........ Sure, they will have some work to do, but they attracted a whole new genre of buyers when they released the rendezvous..... and then their going to release the new SUV type thing (i cant remember the name)
Re: Domestic Lexus? GM to remake Buick in Toyota’s lux marque’s image
Originally Posted by elwesso
Its not something they cant do
Of course. Even Hyundai evolved from being a crappy, poor person's, entry-level marque into a value conscious, quality, growing marque. Changing a brand's image is possible. Its just that Buick fostered an image of blandness for so long, its going to be hard to change that, especially with entrenched competition that has a reputation for quality far surpassing anything made by GMUSA for the past 30+ years. I would have preferred Olds get the nod, but it just wasn't meant to be.