Monday, November 15, 2010

Love Buick's fuel efficiency, Columbia? Get ready to love it even more!

Buick LaCrosse, coming soon with eAssist
technology to Columbia, SC
Even with gas still below $3 a gallon (knock on wood), fuel efficiency remains a concern for a lot of drivers in Columbia, South Carolina.  Buick's fuel economy has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years with new models like the Buick Enclave crossover and the new Buick Regal.  Perhaps the best example of the improvements, though, has been in the Buick LaCrosse.

The final model year of the LaCrosse's first generation offered a V6 engine rated for 28 highway MPG, or a 5.3L V8 rated for 24.  For 2011, LaCrosse offers a 4-cylinder engine rated for 30 highway MPG.  Now, for the 2012 model year, Buick is introducing the eAssist system to the four-cylinder Buick LaCrosse as standard equipment with an estimated 37 MPG!

Don't call it a hybrid--you won't be driving on the electric motor alone--but the eAssist system uses an electric motor coupled to the four-cylinder engine on the LaCrosse in lieu of a traditional alternator.  A 115V battery pack in the rear of the car provides the motor with up to 15 horsepower (or 11 kilowatts) of electric assistance during heavy acceleration.  This is a huge leap over the 2 kilowatts of the last-generation system found on models such as the Saturn Aura Green Line and Chevy Malibu Hybrid.  The eAssist system also provides up to 15 kilowatts of regenerative braking power, capturing energy for later use that would otherwise be lost to heat and friction.  The system also allows the 2.4L Ecotec engine to shut down fuel delivery in certain situations, allowing the motor to spin the engine to a stop at just the right position to restart smoothly.  Unlike many hybrid sedans available in Columbia, the LaCrosse will retain its split-folding rear seat; cargo space will be reduced slightly to make room for the battery.

LaCrosse with eAssist will also include improved underbody aerodynamics and actively-controlled shutters on the lower grille.  When cooling is not needed for the engine, such as while cruising down the highway, the shutters will close to force air around the body of the car to reduce drag.  In cases where more airflow is needed, such as in the city or while going up a steep grade, the shutters will open to provide better cooling for the engine.

All of this, save for an ECO gauge on the instrument panel, is invisible and effortless to the driver as you'd expect from a Buick in Columbia.  Although pricing has not been announced for the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Buick expects the sedan to come in "about $30,000".

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another New Buick to Love: 2012 Buick Regal GS Announced for Columbia, SC

2012 Buick Regal GS sedan, available soon in Columbia, SC (GM Media)
If you love Buick Regal's styling but wanted something a little more potent than the standard CXL's 2.4L engine, your ship has come in!  Buick has announced the new 2012 Buick Regal GS, which will arrive in the second half of 2011 to Columbia, South Carolina.

When it arrives, the Regal GS will deliver an estimated 255 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque, all run through a six-speed manual gearbox; a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters will be available later on.  The new Regal GS also receives exclusive race-inspired exterior styling and interior appointments. Furthering the Buick styling tradition, the four-cylinder Regal GS has two portholes on each side; Buick models equipped with V6 and V8 engines historically received three and four respectively.

Unlike the Regal GS show car, the production model will only be available in front-wheel drive.  Columbia drivers will experience the well-received HiPerStrut suspension system, seen on uplevel models like the Buick LaCrosse and Saab 9-5, which serves to reduce torque steer under acceleration commonly found in front-wheel-drive performance sedans.  Regal’s class-exclusive Interactive Drive Control System will also be standard equipment, providing Columbia Buick drivers with pushbutton control over the Regal GS’ suspension and steering settings.

Pricing has not been announced, but the 2012 Buick Regal GS will be for sale in Columbia, South Carolina in the second half of 2011.  When it does, you can bet that your Buick dealer in Columbia will be among the first to get a hold of this Buick performance sedan!