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TTAC - Buick: To Precision… and Beyond!

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Golden boy Sajeev Mehta has written another underhanded review of Buick. Like much of the "buff press," he writes like his real-world car buying experience is limited to what mommy and daddy drive. Cars in the real world are about more than how fast you can go around a downhill corner. There's also, among other things, comfort for a family (not just your girlfriend) and overall value to consider. If these auto writers (what are Mehta's qualifications anyway?) had their way we'd all be driving around in kidney jarring, hard perched, over-engineered and over-priced Euro traps.

He is right, though, about the CXL being a little more Buicky than the CXS. For me, more chrome and comfort the better.

P.S. He's right, thankfully, Buick will never be a Lexus (a perfectly dull styled carbon copy of a Camry or Benz depending on the model).

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=2037

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a less-than-flattering Buick Lucerne review would score me a road test reprise on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Thanks to an internet-savvy Buick flackmeister determined to show me the light, the deal went down. Of course, RF pointed out that a junket courtesy of a diss-missed manufacturer was not without its dangers: brow-beating, brainwashing, alcohol poisoning and/or failed brakes. So I brought my Mom.

The five Buick Lucernes parked outside our hotel were a thing of beauty. Waxed to perfection, the factory orange peel provided reasonable reassurance that our press cars weren’t specially prepped ringers. As the Lucerne's Product manager gave us the usual product demo, I fixated on the Magnaride exhibit. Like sand in an hourglass, two saimesed syringes filled with Magnaride's iron-goo morph from maple-syrup smooth to unyielding concrete, depending on proximity to an external magnet. Damn, that's cool.

ADD episode over, I retreated to the gorgeous looking Lucerne's decadent interior. Product-guru Drew Kraisinger requested and gained permission to climb aboard. Mom retreated into the backseat to overhear a little Quiet Tuned susurration.

Touring the Canadian island confirmed one thing: the Lucerne CXS' ride and handling balance feels great on smooth roads at Matlock speeds. Catch island fever, though and you'll soon discover that the big Buick ain't no Hawaii Five-0 cop car. Even a mildly-aggressive downhill curve at 55mph sends the brittle tires howling in disapproval. Bumpy roads force the 18" rims into a chassis-crashing frenzy, leaving the front subframe dazed and confused.

I bitched and moaned while Product Guru Drew listened patiently, sending Mom down memory lane. She recalled my youthful ability to bombard car salesmen with facts and figures delivered in a manner befitting an American shock and awe campaign. Yes, and Mom knows Buicks. In fact, I figure she earned this junket by purchasing a two-toned, limited-grade, gas-sipping Buick Century during the brand’s (and Detroit’s) previous dark age (the early 1980s).

Now that Mom inhabits the Lucerne’s intended demographic (i.e. someone old enough to remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in), Buick's press rep actively elicited her opinions. When pressed, Mom praised the Buick’s styling, comfort, quiet ride and (yes) the MP3 hookup, cooled seats and OnStar-backed cellular phone service. When asked whether she’d been won over by the big Buick’s charms, Mom displayed her mastery of situational ethics. “I would definitely consider purchasing this car,” she proclaimed, definitely considering our host’s generosity.

Once again, I opened my mind to the company’s decision to add high horsepower to a wrong-wheel drive chassis. If Japan sells fwd hp by the boatload, maybe there's a place for the V8-motivated Lucerne CXS. Then again, maybe not. The CSX’ Magnaride suspension and 18" wheels promise more than the hard tires and flaccid chassis can deliver. The suspension needs a Corvette-style user interface (i.e. a switch for touring or sport dampening). Add a front chassis brace (or three), give an option for sport tires, and Buick might have a contender in the "near-luxury" segment.

After a lobster lunch at a suitably charming beachfront bed and breakfast, Buick's PR-wingman joined mother and son for part two: a jaunt in the cheaper Lucerne CXL. Cholesterol be damned; the less-rich Lucerne became my favorite Buick in a matter of minutes. Conservative 55-series rubber (17" hoops) and a softer suspension (no Magnaride) creamed road imperfections, reducing chassis flex to a mere wiggle. The CXL’s exterior was also more appealing, flaunting chrome in all the right places. Gone are the afterthought tailpipe extensions and adhesive-backed decklid bling; replaced by a brilliant chrome grille. The end result was solid Buick spizzarkle in the Roadmaster tradition, for a lot less dough.

The CXL's (optional) Northstar V8 puts the power down with a rowdy soundtrack– immediately downplayed by our gracious host. Which set me off again. If you can't Quiet Tune those 32-valves, why not promote Buick as an American Muscle Car icon? Don't try to out-Lexus an ES350. I mean, every Lucerne in attendance had a wiggly shift knob, loose shifter and dashboards sporting rock hard plastics. Mom won't remember, but even her old Century knew better; its flat-out amazing what $9000 got you in a GM interior back then.

In fact, let’s face it: Buick will never be an American Lexus, no matter how much spin is spun or press junket petty-cash hides in the console. After chatting with the Buick folk about life, liberty and the pursuit of precision, one thing became clear: GM’s minions know they’re up against it. They spoke hopefully about their next new dawn: the upcoming Enclave sport crossover utility thingie. They even invited TTAC to its official media introduction. And then, upon our return, GM formally banned TTAC from its Dallas press fleet. Suffice it to say, Mom wasn’t surprised. Neither was I.

[buick paid the Mehta's airfare, hotel, transfers, the test cars and food.]

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Buick doesn't need to be Lexus; Buick needs to be Buick. I won't repeat why (I've posted it many times), but it does.

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I don't know if it's purposely done or what but it seems reviewers who obviously enjoy foreign models and makes like to look at Buick and discount it because it isn't competing in a category that they'd rather be driving.

For instance last I checked Buick didn't make Hawaii Five-0 cop cars but a comfortable luxurious vehicle at an afforable price. It seems reviewers like Mr. Mehta enjoy downplaying aspects of vehicles domestics don't compete in and enjoy exaggerating very small details to promote their agenda (sometimes it's so engrained that they do not understand they even have an agenda). Aside from a couple compliments in the beginning to feign being unbias the whole article has an attitude of "We just told the guy who paid for us to do all this stuff that it was a good car but in reality it is a joke."

He doesn't seem to comprehend the idea of affordable luxury and once again brings in the "American Lexus" statement to make sure that Buick has definitely not become Lexus (thank God) and it deserves to be treated as a joke because of it. Buick is in the entry luxury market and the Lucerne is not meant to be cross shopped with a high end Jaguar or Lexus that is almost double the price. The purpose of Buick is to start in the mid-20s and head up to about 40k in price which isn't a common placement for a car company these days beause the gap between luxury and non-luxury is widening. If it's a luxury division you're lucky to have a vehicle as low as 30k, if it's the non-luxury division the highest prices typically go is 30k, the point of Buick is to connect the two areas and not to be conveniently compared to a Lexus with its entry level aspects.

Exaggeration is also key in these types of reviews making it blatantly obvious what you should care about- "rock hard" plastics, "brittle" tires "howling" in disapprovement, "rowdy" soundtrack even though the Lucerne was tested to actually be quieter than Lexus, but yet he says Buick can't compare with it's quietness...

Mr. Mehta, it is overtly clear of your bias against domestic vehicles, so why do you test drive them? It's obvious when you start to get giddy any time you even mention a car make from another country. When you clearly voice that the Lucerne is just so loud that it needs to find another way to market itself because quiet is definitely not it- and yet the testing finds it actually the quieter vehicle- you need to either go to a doctor, or get out of the "unbias" reviewing field.

Edited by Cananopie

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In fact, let’s face it:Buick will never be an American Lexus, no matter how much spin is spun or press junket petty-cash hides in the console.

Wait, he can look into the future?? Amazing! There is a reason why this guy is writing on that website and is not a real journalist. He's an amature at best.

In fact, let’s face it: Sajeev Mehta will never be a professional auto journalist. No matter how many clever quips and jabs he makes toward Buick and GM. If you can't write a good article, that worthless article filler won't help him.

I too am glad Buick will never be an American Lexus. Who wants bland, uninspired, barely adequate luxury cars, that are constantly trying to catch up to it's European counterparts. Buick offering niche luxury cars that offer RWD and great styling will be much more appealing.

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I too am glad Buick will never be an American Lexus.  Who wants bland, uninspired, barely adequate luxury cars, that are constantly trying to catch up to it's European counterparts.  Buick offering niche luxury cars that offer RWD and great styling will be much more appealing.

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Barely adequate? You're kidding yourself.

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Fellas,

Don't get your feathers ruffled too much by this guy. I couldn't get through the entire article, because it's boring drool puts me to sleep. I read enough to get the jest of his opinion though and he's one of many twerpy little writer types that wrongly believe in japanese superiority. Japan wouldn't know how to make a toaster if it were not for the United States, much less a car. Buick is doing just fine and the Lucerne is making headway. The Enclave is going to inflict damage upon the foreign brands....just wait and see.

Have ya'll read the "Is buying American the answer to the perception gap" on http://www.friendsofbuick.com/about.html

That is some good reading.

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I just barf everytime I hear this phucking Lexus comparo. Buick just needs to be what Buick once was. And it can and it will.

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Mr. Mehta, it is overtly clear of your bias against domestic vehicles, so why do you test drive them? It's obvious when you start to get giddy any time you even mention a car make from another country. When you clearly voice that the Lucerne is just so loud that it needs to find another way to market itself because quiet is definitely not it- and yet the testing finds it actually the quieter vehicle- you need to either go to a doctor, or get out of the "unbias" reviewing field.

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Well I thought we went over this before with the LaX thread, but hey, let's do it again.

1) Read my Toyota Camry review and tell me I have a bias against domestic vehicles. Ditto the Tundra. I challenge any and all of you to find someone who speaks up about Toyotas quality control problems like I do.

I call 'em like I see 'em. Sorry guys and gals, that's why I'd be in one of these WAY before any current Buick:

Posted Image

2) The Lucerne isn't loud, the Northstar is. And that's a GOOD thing. This quiet-tuning campaign is nuts, the Lucerne is a hot rod from the airbox to the tailpipes, and should be promoted as such. That's all I am saying.

3) I didn't add anything new from my original road test, other than the fact that Buick thought I was worthy to attend their press junket. Which is fine, but I had more seat time to crystalize my beliefs about this half-baked car: it needs chassis stiffening, better tires (CXS), a high quality shift knob and a piece of plastic in the middle of the dash that matches the good stuff on the doors.

And don't worry, I'm not a journalist. With any luck, I'll add "spizzarkle" to one of my MBA-level term papers next semester, and see what happens. Maybe my prof will set me straight. :ohyeah:

Thanks for reading, have a good day.

Edited by Sajeev Mehta

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Well I thought we went over this before with the LaX thread, but hey, let's do it again.

1) Read my Toyota Camry review and tell me I have a bias against domestic vehicles.  Ditto the Tundra.  I challenge any and all of you to find someone who speaks up about Toyotas quality control problems like I do.

I call 'em like I see 'em. Sorry guys and gals, that's why I'd be in one of these WAY before any current Buick:

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Oh yea- I totally stand corrected- you wrote a negative review on two foreign vehicles so that means you're an obvious domestic lover. I'm sure you have your foreign choices and I could bet dollars to doughnuts (you don't get to hear that phrase often) you step outside and in to your foreign vehicle. It's not because you particularly bash the Lucerne so much as it is your style of writing gives it away that you want the Lucerne to be considered a joke because it's base models can't compare to the Lexus and the CXS model os far removed from its deserved price with it's howling tires, rock hard plastics, and apparently according to you, a too noisy V8- which you write on here is a great way to "promote" the vehicle or something but in your article you write in such a way that is saying "Since Buick fails at quiet-tuning (which should be no surprise since my whole undertone of this article has been negative about the Lucerne) at least promote it as an American muscle car because Buick can't compare to anything Lexus is doing with quiet tuning..." though it has... and technically (like it matters) the Lucerne is actually quieter when tested... so you're WRONG. Buick DID "out-Lexus" Lexus.

Go ahead and drive your dirt brown, most overdone Sedan in the country that has the same chassis from older-looking cop cars and only is different because a Mercury Grille is slapped down there... obviously you have some style and taste if you're SERIOUSLY comparing a dead vehicle over a brand new Lucerne.

The Lucerne is not a bad choice. You found maybe 3 things wrong with it, one of which included was the "loose shifter knob." Yet you'll go ahead and take your dirt colored Mercury that looks like it belongs in 1993 to look new but it's column shifter will never go loose for you (and that is what makes or breaks a vehicle, right?)... you obviously have style and taste...

and are completely non-bias.

Edited by Cananopie

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Oh yea- I totally stand corrected- you wrote a negative review on two foreign vehicles so that means you're an obvious domestic lover.

Course I'm not a domestic lover. GM and Ford sold me out years ago with their dull and uncompetitive products, losing market share all the way.

I'm sure you have your foreign choices and I could bet dollars to doughnuts (you don't get to hear that phrase often) you step outside and in to your foreign vehicle.

Stop assuming things. Now you owe me a few Krispy Kremes. Once again, I drive a Lincoln. It has a rowdy Mustang Cobra engine and was made in Wixom, MI.

It's not because you particularly bash the Lucerne so much as it is your style of writing gives it away that you want the Lucerne to be considered a joke...

Our style of writing is made to entertain/offend everyone, not just Buick. Some people love it, others hate it. That's the way it goes.

and technically (like it matters) the Lucerne is actually quieter when tested... so you're WRONG. Buick DID "out-Lexus" Lexus.

Forget the dB ratings at cruising speed and put the cruise control on in hilly conditions. The Northstar constantly reminds you that this ain't no Lexus. Need to pass someone? The 4-2 downshift really wakes up the Northstar and silences all interior conversations. I did that while talking with two passengers and everyone remained silent until I got off the throttle.

That doesn't happen in a Lexus. Good or bad? I donno. But it's not my definition of Quiet Tuning.

I only get 800 words to write a smartass but somewhat informative review, so I hope that clears up my "beef" with Quiet Tuning.

Go ahead and drive your dirt brown, most overdone Sedan in the country that has the same chassis from older-looking cop cars and only is different because a Mercury Grille is slapped down there... obviously you have some style and taste if you're SERIOUSLY comparing a dead vehicle over a brand new Lucerne.

The Merc's chassis and suspension poise feels way better than the Lucerne. Get one with the handling package and it feels pretty damn good. Until GM has the balls re-engineer this (Aurora based?) chassis like Ford did the Panther chassis, its gonna have a hard time impressing me.

Do I wish the Mercury was redesigned and had a better interior? Damn right I do, but I still feel its the best Buick sedan currently on the market.

The Lucerne is not a bad choice. You found maybe 3 things wrong with it, one of which included was the "loose shifter knob."

Why spend so much money for a car with obvious cust cutting measures? A Camry's shfiter knob doesn't wiggle at all. Do you really think its okay for Buick to do that?

Don't you wanna hold them accountable for their ruthless bean-counting? I sure as hell do.

I wanna like the Lucerne, but its got too much wrong with it. Whatever my bias is, I'm not the one to judge it...but unless someone knows the fleet/retail percentage of current Lucerne sales, there's a good chance the American public feels the same way too.

Edited by Sajeev Mehta

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http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosconsumer/.../F03-345652.htm

Is this the Quiet tuning you're talking about?

I put on earphones and took the same test. Which is quieter? The Buick Lucerne, which goes on sale later this fall, or the 2005 Lexus ES 330. The operating conditions in the recordings varied from rough concrete at 35 mph to dry, smooth asphalt at 70 mph. I marked my preference for "vehicle A," which turned out to be the Lucerne.

I couldn't fault that quote: sure the Lucerne is quiet at cruising speeds...provided you never need to step into the throttle to pass or go up a hill.

How about this: I am getting a Lexus ES 350 for review next week (fingers crossed). I will come on C&G and personally give you my thoughts on Buick's quiet tuning compared to a Lexus.

If my sarcastic/biased ears hear Lucerne levels of intake roar from the Lexus while maintaining a speed via cruise control in hilly terrain I will officially apologize to Buick here on C&G and TTAC.

Edited by Sajeev Mehta

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Sajeev, one question: why the hell are you comparing Buick to Lexus? Buick's most expensive car starts at $25,990 whereas Lexus' least expensive car starts at $30,580. Compare apples with apples, not oranges. Want to compare a brand to Lexus? Pick Cadillac. Want to compare something to Buick? Don't do it with cars double the price.

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Our style of writing is made to entertain/offend everyone, not just Buick. Some people love it, others hate it. That's the way it goes.

182405[/snapback]

And, since that's the case, why have you come online to support your opinion?

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Sajeev, one question: why the hell are you comparing Buick to Lexus?

Because even Bob Lutz uses Lexus as Buick's frame of reference. Bob ain't no fool. Automakers benchmark the competition all the time, thankfully Lutz has the balls to put everyone on notice. :)

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.

Sorry I don't have a link to this quote from Autoweek, its now dead.

Buick's most expensive car starts at $25,990 whereas Lexus' least expensive car starts at $30,580.

Come on now. Sure a 3.8L Lucerne is the price of a loaded Camry, but the CXS is right in Lexus ES territory. I dont understand why you guys are slamming me for comparing it to Lexus when everyone else does, including the folks at the RenCen.

1. Lexus is the best selling luxury car brand in the country, its what Buick and Cadillac used to be, wrapped into one brand.

2. Even though they sell tons of them, they can still appease all their customers and earn #1 customer satisfaction ratings. Buick and Mercury are right below, but they have less market share to go with it.

3. GM's mission is to beat its competitors and make Lexus-like profit margins on their products. You better believe the folks at the RenCen are looking to make Buick the "American" Lexus.

How's that? :)

Edited by Sajeev Mehta

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And, since that's the case, why have you come online to support your opinion?

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Its simple: I need to learn from others to make better agruements and/or stroke my own fragile ego.

Edited by Sajeev Mehta

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Sure, they're trying to improve Buick. Hell, they're trying to improve GM all-around; take a look at Saturn, Chevy, Pontiac, and even Buick's upcoming vehicles in the next 4-5 years.

Now, calling Buick the "'American' Lexus" I don't agree with, whether Mr. Lutz stated it or not. I read "Lexus-like division," which is much different. The syntax of "American Lexus" reads that GM is putting Lexus on an untouchable platform to mimic their "greatness," whereas "Lexus-like" stands for them looking at Lexus, setting their sites, and saying "I want them." It's different, ya know?

And I can't say anything bad about Lexus' sales. I mean, I'm the type of guy who is domestic all the way and I don't support one damn foreign brand, but I can't say Cadillac and/or Buick are beating the hell out of Lexus (well, mainly because I don't follow the sales numbers lol), but I can say for GM that they are right in the middle of a great epiphany where they opened their eyes and agreed they were behind the competition and, for about 20 years, seemed to be lost and flattered by their early heritage with an over-inflated ego. Now they're back to size and know what to do, and they're doing it.

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Its simple: I need to learn from others to make better agruements and/or stroke my own fragile ego.

182453[/snapback]

Ego-stroking is where many going wrong.

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Guest YellowJacket894

Why spend so much money for a car with obvious cust cutting measures? A Camry's shfiter knob doesn't wiggle at all. Do you really think its okay for Buick to do that?

While the shifter knob may have wiggled in the Buick, I can guaran-damn-tee you that it didn't throw one damn gear like a Camry.

Don't you wanna hold them accountable for their ruthless bean-counting? I sure as hell do.

Who here doesn't have a gripe about the old, perverted bastards counting the beans at GM...or any car company for that matter? If I had a week as CEO of any car company (with a few exceptions), I'd be handing out pink slips to the bean-counting bureaucrats like lotto tickets to a family of white trash. They just water-down a product and turn something that could've been a one-hit K.O. into mainstream $h!.

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Who here doesn't have a gripe about the old, perverted bastards counting the beans at GM...or any car company for that matter? If I had a week as CEO of any car company (with a few exceptions), I'd be handing out pink slips to the bean-counting bureaucrats like lotto tickets to a family of white trash. They just water-down a product and turn something that could've been a one-hit K.O. into mainstream $h!.

182465[/snapback]

:yes: Well said.

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The syntax of "American Lexus" reads that GM is putting Lexus on an untouchable platform to mimic their "greatness," whereas "Lexus-like" stands for them looking at Lexus, setting their sites, and saying "I want them." It's different, ya know?

I try not to get bogged down in semantics. Not being there when Lutz said it (or blogged it), I don't know the exact wording, but just keep in mind that Lexus' lower product offerings is Buick's target here.

Lexus' higher offerings are part of Cadillac's mission, though I see Caddy's designs having their sights set on Mercedes primarily.

But I can say for GM that they are right in the middle of a great epiphany where they opened their eyes and agreed they were behind the competition and, for about 20 years, seemed to be lost and flattered by their early heritage with an over-inflated ego. Now they're back to size and know what to do, and they're doing it.

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I thought that too, but then I drove the Lucerne and disagreed with myself. Your results may vary.

Oh, and another reason I decided to join C&G to talk with you folks: the first time I was blogged/mentioned here someone suggested I should be "drowned in curry sauce." That's not a very nice thing to say, and it certainly got me writing.

Thanks for the spirited discussion, I do enjoy my time here and I hope you all aren't asking the admin to ban me.

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Nobody's asking you to be banned, and if they are, they're being impractical. You don't seem to be a bad member, its just that your views vary from many of ours. Oh, and "drowned in curry sauce," you say? Sorry, but that statement is simply hilarious. Now, on with the discussion...

Lexus' higher offerings are part of Cadillac's mission, though I see Caddy's designs having their sights set on Mercedes primarily.

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Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac, and Lexus are all competition for each other. Cadillac wouldn't just try to attack Mercedes, and you can see this in their line-up. For example, BMW is known to some as the luxury performance brand, so Cadillac has brought out their V-Series vehicles with upgraded performance to compete against BMW, along with other higher-performance luxury vehicles.

I thought that too, but then I drove the Lucerne and disagreed with myself.  Your results may vary.

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Well, honestly GM's "good" cars aren't on the market yet. Don't tell me that the models they've put out in the last year or two are anything compared to what they'll be in five years, both in respect to the competition. Sure, the Cobalt's a good car for Chevy, but why did they release the G5 variant in the US this year? They're setting everything up right now. G5 seems unfeasible as a "new" vehicle, so GM's probably setting up Pontiac with a more performance-oriented small car that will probably variate itself from its Chevrolet counterpart the next time around. Lucerne isn't a bad car from what I hear, but it's nothing compared to what it'll be when it's redesigned on a new platform. You get what I'm saying, or..?

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Nobody's asking you to be banned, and if they are, they're being impractical. You don't seem to be a bad member, its just that your views vary from many of ours. Oh, and "drowned in curry sauce," you say? Sorry, but that statement is simply hilarious.

It was hilarious, I took it the right way. What I meant to say was that it got me writing here.

Now that I mention it, how many other car-reviewers reply back to C&G's members, hmm? :P

For example, BMW is known to some as the luxury performance brand, so Cadillac has brought out their V-Series vehicles with upgraded performance to compete against BMW, along with other higher-performance luxury vehicles.

Until Caddy offers more cars with manual trannys and insanely-tight sport packages like BMW, I'm gonna say the V-series is aimed right at the cushy AMG Mercedes cars. Granted they don't make a twin-turbo V12, but that could change if they green-light the Cadillac Sixteen concept.

Lucerne isn't a bad car from what I hear, but it's nothing compared to what it'll be when it's redesigned on a new platform. You get what I'm saying, or..?

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That's pretty much where I am at, and that's why I call out the Lucerne for what it is. I also tried to hammer that into the Buick-folk who took me on the press junket.

Don't let the beancounters rule the roost. For example, don't let me find a better shift knob in a $20,000 Camry, or better dash plastics in my old 1980 Buick Century next time around.

Edited by Sajeev Mehta

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Only thing I have left to debate: Just because something has a manual transmission, doesn't make it any more performance-worthy than something with an automatic transmission, unless maybe if you're on a tight track. But, in that case, I don't see the point of using a luxury vehicle when there are other vehicles that are much lighter you can use. Oh, and some of today's automatics are quicker than a standard transmission anyway..

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