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Buick's Verano a Miscommunication

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Buick Verano, Buick
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Buick's Verano a Miscommunication

Bill Crittenden
November 13, 2012


One of the most frustrating things to see a car company do is to have all the pieces available to make a remarkable car and somehow, despite all the people with all the automotive industry experience they can't figure out how to get the pieces together.  Worse yet is when they create something that is an empty shadow of what they could have accomplished, a rolling reminder of incompetency that reminds you every time you pass one that a really cool car was within reach of the market but just didn't get created.

The Buick Verano is just such a car for me.

Despite American tendencies, luxury isn't always about size.  Especially in tightly packed cities, luxury is about quality, design, and style that fits in the space available.  Mercedes-Benz and BMW have been making cars of outstanding style and quality in sizes that Americans associate with Korean econoboxes.  We tried the compact luxury formula before, in the form of the Cadillac Cimarron, but that was more like dressing up a McDouble with caviar...it had one element of luxury (the Cadillac name) slapped across cheap American mass consumerism (the Chevrolet Cavalier) in such a way that it couldn't hide what it really was: a cheap car with a Cadillac badge.  The Mini Cooper was perhaps our first taste of this formula from Europe, where they have had wealthy people, medieval cities and in the last century very expensive gasoline a lot longer than we have.  The Mini was expensive for its size, but unpretentious, it had quality and function in abundance without trying to show off fake luxury.  Function, with some form that was real and unique and didn't look like a Rolex badge on a Timex.

I love that Buick is going in this direction.  The Verano is fantastic redemption for the Cimarron debacle.  The style is all Buick, the luxury is real, and the car is still small, affordable, and efficient.  Nobody I know that isn't an over-obsessive car nut can tell the car had more humble beginnings in the Chevrolet division.  It really is a great little car.

And then Buick went and named it "Verano."

Despite what some very ignorant people might say, there's not a damn thing wrong with picking a name in Spanish for what is increasingly a bilingual society here in America.  It's what the word means in Spanish...summer...that annoys the hell out of me.  There's nothing "summery" about a silver luxury sedan.

A few years ago, in the auto industry bailout, someone in the government suggested that General Motors had too many brands, and since the government was technically a large stakeholder in the new GM, the company had to cut itself down.  Hummer, Saturn, and Pontiac all found themselves cut out of the new company.  Of the three, all had potential, but Pontiac had perhaps the most.  Gone were the days when Pontiacs were rebadged Chevrolets, they had their own products that set them apart.  The Solstice, Vibe, G8, and G6 retractable hardtop convertible were all only available from Pontiac.  The Solstice platform was also made into the Saturn Sky, but since Saturn was dying simultaneously, that whole platform disappeared.  The Vibe also was not transferred to another brand.  The G8 went back to Australia for a while and returned as the Caprice PPV.  The G6 was based on the Malibu, so it never really went away, either.  Except for the retractable hardtop...

Now, what kind of car is more summery than a convertible?  I've been asking why General Motors let all that R&D investment disappear and couldn't apply the retractable hardtop to the other cars that shared platforms with the G6 since Pontiac went under.  They're popular in other market segments, and the Chrysler 200 now has the segment the G6 was in all to itself.

So every time I see a Verano, or a Verano commercial, I think of the Buick that should have been: essentially a LaCrosse coupe with a retractable hardtop.  Dark metallic paint and Buick style chrome on the outside, soft tan leather interior, top set down on a sunny day, the warmth and security of a hardtop for winters in the Chicago suburbs.

The Buick Verano, as it exists now, could still exist and still be a great car, just under a different name.  Regal is, according to a web search, a Spanish for for royal.  Perhaps we have a new theme here?  Principe, the word for prince, would be a great name for the junior car in the lineup!

And while we're on the subject of Buick's names, can I mention that LaCrosse really still needs to be replaced?  When they found out what LaCrosse meant in Quebec and renamed it the Buick Allure for that market, why didn't they name it the Allure for all of North America?  Or going for the Spanish word (I could find no direct translation) how about Belleza, the word for beauty?



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