Buick to add new models, trims trim levels, expand its horizons

By Editors on May 10, 2010 1:16 PM

Hotly pursing its comprehensive reinvention program, Buick recently provided some additional insight into what in store during the next 24-36 months. Heading that list on the product front will be the arrival of its previously announced mid-size sedan and crossover models. Although specific timing for both remains nebulous, the former -- first depicted in a teaser illustration at last-year's Los Angeles Auto show---will be based on GM's Delta II platform that also underpins the new Chevy Cruze. Rumored to be named "Verano," it's expected to offer a choice of both naturally aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

Less is known about the now-confirmed compact SUV-style crossover. However, it's virtually certain to share basic architecture with the next-generation Chevy Aveo and could well turn up wearing an Encore badge. These two vehicles, along with the soon-to-launch 2011 Buick Regal, will help springboard the division into new market territory and reinforce the impressive impact now being made by its LaCrosse and Enclave models which have already helped Buick become the industry's fastest-growing brand. Buick's overall goal is to use this expanded lineup to double its sales during the next several years. According to John Schwegman, U.S. marketing vice president, Buick-GMC, by 2013, the new Regal will be the oldest vehicle in the division's lineup. A quick read between the lines means that both the LaCrosse and Enclave will be in for significant revamps sometime before then, as well.

One other key change also in the cards will see Buick drop specific trim level designations, a move it says is meant to eliminate the feeling that the designed-in quality of the "base level" variants is any less than their top-line kin. In place of the current "CX/CXL/CXS" style hierarchy, Buick says it will offer a series of "stackable" option packages that will allow buyers to ratchet up the content levels on a measured basis. However, we hear that a few special exceptions to the rule may turn up, with the most wished-for surrounding a much-speculated-upon Regal GS performance variant.

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