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2015 Buick Encore AWD Premium review notes

Peppy and responsive


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Hate to use the C word but this thing IS cute as a button. The design fits the size -- the Encore looks good, well proportioned, to my eye. It’s delightful, like a chunky little puppy wagging its tail, all energetic.

I’m surprised how well the Encore drives. This is a likeable little truck and that is good news for Buick. It’s not a rocket by any means, but it sips gas, feels solid and is of high quality (especially for such a small package), and like other Buicks, is nice and quiet going about its business -- double laminated glass, more sound-deadening material, you know the drill. It’s relaxing where other small cars and trucks can be a bit frenetic. I suppose I’d like some firmer steering, but I also suppose most of the targeted customers don’t care.

There is a ton of room inside in terms of the front-seat and cargo space. The back seat is a wee bit tight. Fit and finish are good, and there are high-quality soft-touch materials throughout.

The 2015 Buick Verano Turbo 2.0L engine delivers 250 hp and 260lb-ft of torque.

Compact luxury cruiser

2015 Buick Verano Turbo FWD Premium review notes


ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I may not exactly know what Buick the brand is, or what it has in store for the future (besides lots and lots of Encores, apparently), but I can tell you one thing about its cars: They’re quiet. Or at least the Verano is. I wasn’t expecting that sort of serenity in a $32,770 compact luxury sedan.

I also wasn’t expecting to enjoy the motor so much. All luxury/non-luxury distinction and debates aside, the big reason you’d buy this instead of a Chevrolet Cruze is the aluminum-block 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. It gets over 100 hp more than the highest-output Cruze motor, and offers torque comparable to the Cruze diesel’s.

What’s more, that uplevel motor makes the Verano more powerful than the Audi A3, and it doesn’t suffer from any annoying low-speed dual-clutchiness like the German offering. Although technically, I suppose it is a German offering being based on an Opel.

The LaCrosse’s appearance is instantly recognizable as a modern Buick, with LED lighting elements that enhance its technologically advanced presence.

2015 Buick LaCrosse Premium review notes


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Attractive in a bland sort of way, the Buick LaCrosse delivers a lot of features and one of GM’s nicest interiors south of Cadillac, but really falls short on the driving experience. This car flat-out drives weird. Once again, GM’s high-feature 3.6-liter V6 is flaccid unless you really get into the pedal, after which it turns thrashy; it’s the standard MO for this lump, but I never fail to be surprised at how sub-premium it feels. The ride is European-firm -- too firm, actually, and the steering is oversensitive at speed; tiny inputs cause the LaCrosse to dart all over the interstate. Add in a brake pedal with zero feel for half its travel plus massive A- and C-pillars that block large sections of traffic, and you end up with a thoroughly unenjoyable evening’s driving.

Yet for all those distractions, the LaCrosse delivers on its premium promise inside. Buick gave this sedan a gorgeous Jaguar-like band of wood that curves across the dash and down both doors, helping the interior feel both airy and cozy at the same time. Controls are straightforward and, more importantly, they deliver the goods. I’m specifically referring to the heated seats, heated steering wheel and remote start; I had the LaCrosse on a 15-degree morning and it warmed up fast, got the cabin comfortable and was ready to go before I left my house. Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many cars disappoint when the weather turns extreme.

2015 Buick Enclave review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Seems to me the only difference between an Enclave and a minivan is the Buick has a longer hood and doesn’t have sliding doors. That is to say it drives rather like a minivan; a smooth, quiet minivan.

Yes, Buick’s quiet tuning (or whatever it’s called these days) really works with double glass and oodles of sound deadening -- this baby sails down the road silently and comfortably. Comfortably as in leisurely. No, it’s not quick, but does it need to be? I would argue not really. The 288-hp six-cylinder is smooth and power is adequate. Handling is about as one expects -- it understeers. Again does it matter? It’s not pretending to be even the least bit sporty. You should know exactly what you’re getting: a relaxing people hauler.

And there is indeed plenty of room to haul people and stuff, and the interior materials are nice. One could argue a minivan is even more efficient and even better at family hauling, but this is dang close, a lot quieter and more refined. It’s also better looking. If you want an ultra quiet and smooth crossover, try an Enclave

A youthful, performance Buick will cost you.

2014 Buick Regal GS review notes

04/22/2014 EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Spritely lil' bugger, this 2014 Buick Regal GS . It would be the Regal of choice if I was shopping for a Regal. My wife has a regular Regal, so I'm familiar. I like the GS -- looks better than her standard car. The GS looks a bit lower and I dig the front-end treatment. It's handsome. This is the Opel Insignia in Europe, where GM's German brand offers this look as a wagon. It looks awesome. I don't know that it would sell well here, but I sure wish Buick would try.The turbo four and all-wheel drive is a nice combo; it's quick off the line and in the mid revs. There's attention to detail evident here in the buttoned-down ride and quiet operation and with all-wheel-drive it makes a terrific Michigan winter car. Also, of course, AWD nearly eliminates torque steer. The steering could be a bit more direct for my tastes, but on the other hand, it's kind of hard to judge on slick, snow-covered roads. That's not to say the AWD didn't handle the roads; it did fin
The 2014 Buick Regal GS AWD attempts to capture younger generation.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD drive review

03/11/2014 What is it?The Buick Regal family received a refresh for 2014, bringing with it all-wheel drive and another attempt to attract a younger market than that which usually visits Buick dealerships. The Regal's specifications are certainly compelling, starting with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Cranking out 259 hp with 295 lb-ft of torque, the Regal GS AWD produces more horsepower than the Acura TSX, Lexus IS 250, and the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250. The boosted four is mated with the six-speed automatic gearbox, allowing for an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, which is an increase of nearly 3 mpg over the 2013 Regal turbo. The real magic is in the adaptive suspension. Driving modes are selected from the dashboard in
The 2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium is visually appealing.

2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium review notes

01/07/2014 EDITOR WES RAYNAL: “Pleasant” is how I'd describe driving the 2014 Buick LaCrosse Premium. There is nothing outstanding or dreadful. It just is. Good-looking exterior, nicely built interior, quiet on the road, smooth, and there's lots of room inside. It's an adequate car.Step inside and you find curvy soft-touch materials that look good and are well assembled. I see Buick has taken on some haptic-feedback buttons on the center console for, say, the seat heaters. Love 'em or not, they're probably the wave of the future.The V6 is, well, also adequate. It doesn't feel underpowered for a car this size (I wouldn't consider a four cylinder), transmission-shift points were almost perfect -- no surprises. The engine isn't as smooth as a Honda V6, but it's not a Briggs & Stratton, either.Handling is probably ideal for a typica
2014 Buick LaCrosse

2014 Buick LaCrosse drive review

Inside and outside, it's a quiet riot

07/02/2013 What is it?"This is probably the nicest car you've ever driven," promised Jeff Yanssens, Buick's chief engineer, during the introduction of the car he worked on: the 2014 Buick LaCrosse. "I feel comfortable saying that." Whoa, Yanssens -- we here at Autoweek have driven some pretty terrific cars in our illustrious history, just sayin'. But Yanssens is basing this on the LaCrosse's utter serenity and comfort -- and judging by that merit, the LaCrosse becomes a car with priorities that are set in stone.For 2014 everything behind the firewall is brand new, claims GM. (Even the hood-mounted portholes, which now resemble teardrops or falling leaves -- how poetic.) This refresh's theme is tech: adaptive cruise control makes its first appearance on the LaCrosse, and the vibrating seat alert system from the Cadillac ATS worms its way in as well. In the $2,12

2013 Buick Encore Premium review notes

A different kind of Buick

06/27/2013 EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Between China (for which I'm sure this trucklet was designed), retirees with a place up north, and some hoped-for young people coming into the Buick fold, I predict a bright Encore future. I think the thing will be a great seller for Buick. 'Course, I've been wrong before…I don't think I am this time, though. For starters I think the design fits the vehicle's size. It looks good and well-proportioned to my eye. Next, a small Chevrolet Sonic-based ute could be a great idea, especially as gas prices rise. Viewed in that light, as a semi luxurious small SUV, there is literally no competition, or none that I can think of anyway. And the higher those gas prices go, the more customers this baby SUV will potentially attract. If those people who are new to the fold are younger, all the better for Buick. I was surprised how well the Encore drove. Maybe my expecta
The 2013 Buick Enclave doesn't leave one wanting for much, at least as far as amenities and technology go.

2013 Buick Enclave Premium Group review notes

An engine upgrade is still needed

05/16/2013 DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: What a difference some interior upgrades make. The Enclave has been a nice enough seven-passenger utility since it launched, but this 2013 Buick Enclave Premium Group adds loads of stitching, soft-touch materials, ambient lighting and other luxury touches that really put it in a class above where it previously played. That’s probably appropriate, considering the $52,000 sticker price puts it in a different league, too, but the Enclave doesn’t leave one wanting for much, at least as far as amenities and technology go.The 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic feel positively overwhelmed by two-and-a-half tons of Enclave, more so than I’ve experienced in Traverse and Acadia models (fundamentally the same vehicle). Is it Buick’s shift or throttle programming? Hard t

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