The Toyota Avalon has always occupied a sort of tenuous middle ground between the Camry and its Lexus platform mate, the ES, in that it is somewhat larger and nicer than the former, but lacks the brand cache and upscale interior detailing of the latter despite costing nearly as much. The ES pips it on rear seat legroom as well, a category you’d think the longer Avalon would surely excel in. So then, what purpose does the Avalon serve in the Toyota ecosystem? Let’s find out.
Tag - Buick
Having spent a bit of time in Europe, I recall the new Opel Insignia I rented once from an airport counter a few years back. That car was an “estate”, a body style we’re not fortunate enough to get here, for obvious sales reasons. Still, the brief encounter with that station wagon was a pleasant one, and a driving experience immediately drawn to mind during my week with the Insignia’s American stepsister, the Buick Regal. I don’t think I’m wrong in my belief that it’s the most European car GM sells in this country.
Toyota’s midsize sedans recall the old German automaker mantra of “one sausage – three lengths” – in that the platform that underpins the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES350 makes them all essentially the same underneath, but they wear vastly different sheetmetal and appeal to different buyers. You might think I’m stretching the metaphor a bit, but hear me out: all of these cars are remarkably similar under the skin, and yet they drive, feel and look completely different. So maybe it’s not a take on the German mantra, but a Japanese one – one sushi roll, three lengths.
It’s hard to believe, but the Lambda platform architecture that underpins the GMC Acadia Denali tester seen here is now more than seven years old. As part of the product onslaught that kicked off GM’s current renaissance era, the Lambda (also recognizable as the Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave and now-defunct Saturn Outlook) was ushered in just before two other heavy-hitters of the General’s new quality image: the 2008 Chevy Malibu and 2008 Cadillac CTS.
“Engineered in Germany – Manufactured in Asia” might be a good tagline for the advertisements of Buick’s new compact baby, the Encore. It was conceived as the funky Opel Mokka, and is sold under that nameplate in Europe. With GM interest in the Chinese market strong, a manufacturing base there and in nearby South Korea seems a well-thought-out plan, so that’s what GM executed. As Opel’s unofficial stateside dealer network, Buick picked up the ball and ran with it – marketing the Encore toward urban young professional female types who want strong feature content in a small and upright package. The Encore I drove delivered on those counts, being both quite compact and imbued with feature content that wouldn’t be out of place in a vehicle a few size classes up.
Sound good? If you live in Kansas and are thinking of purchasing your own Buick, you can reach out to this Wichita Buick Dealer for a closer look.
GM is continuing their streak of hot rod new models with the unveiling of the Buick Regal GS which will make its world debut at the 2010 North American International Auto Show next week. Sized just below the LaCrosse sedan, the Regal is roughly the size of the Lexus IS, BMW 3-series and Audi A4.
Though being called just a show car right now, every bit of the Regal GS would be easy to put into production since it is largely a carryover of the high performance European Opel Insignia OPC. One big differentiation between the Buick and the Opel is that the Regal GS is powered by a turbocharged Ecotec 2.0L four-cylinder which makes 255 horsepower rather than the 325 horsepower 2.8L turbocharged V6 found in the Insignia. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission which transmits power to all four wheels via a Haldex AWD system.
For more in-depth details, hit the jump. We’ll have full coverage and photos from Cobo Hall starting on Monday January 11th.