Monday, November 11, 2013

Wouldn't You Really Rather Drive a Buick?

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Buick LaCrosse at Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah
I'd have taken better pics of the car if I'd known they'd be public.
I remember this classic Buick tag line from my youth. Maybe that's why I associate Buick with my parents generation. That said, a quick reality check reveals I essentially am now what my parents were then: middle age, 2 kids, a dog, a house in the suburbs and all that. So when Buick turned out to be the featured brand during a recent General Motors' OnStar Blogger Immersion Trip in Detroit, I was open to learning more about the brand.

Well, there's a little more to it. On our recent trip to southwest Utah, our compact car rental was upgraded to a mid-size Buick LaCrosse. We spent a week in that baby driving from Las Vegas up to Goblin Valley State Park and back, logging more than 800 miles with more than 20 hours in the car. 

We enjoyed the SiriusXM satellite radio service switching between music and news updates in the hopes of learning when the government shutdown would end and the national parks would re-open, but this didn't happen until after we'd returned home.

We started a hike at Capitol Reef National Park just before the rangers shut the park on October 1, 2013.
DH and I were both impressed with the car's handling and responsiveness on the Utah roadways, which ranged from interstates with speed limits of up to 80 mph(!) to the twists, turns, and grades of Route 12-one of the most scenic drives in the United States to, uh, this:

Cattle Drive near Hanksville, Utah
At three points during our trip we had to steer around steer. In other news, check out that luxe interior.
Given that we had sketchy-to-no cell phone service, it was handy to have OnStar in the car. Honestly, we weren't sure it was active and forgot to ask the rental company if there would be a charge to use it (the Onstar folks told me during the blogger trip that it was likely active and available to use without a fee). Luckily, we didn't find out the hard way- if the air bags in the car deployed (i.e. we were in a crash) the OnStar command center would have received prompt notice and sent help. I wish I had known this ahead of time as it would have given me peace of mind. We were in some pretty isolated areas!

Buick LaCrosse outside of Zion National Park

We both appreciated the heated seats on chilly mornings, especially near Bryce National Park. The many electric adjustment options for the seats (passenger side, too) came in handy as we switched drivers from my nearly six-foot tall husband to the five-foot me. My husband was not a fan of the car's bucket seats, finding them uncomfortable on some of the longer legs of the trip. However, this wasn't a problem for me. In fact, when I pulled a muscle in my back several days into the trip, I feared that was the end of our hiking, but between the adjustable lumbar support on the driver's side and the heated seats (and a few Advil), I was almost as good as new.

The dual-zone temperature controls were also a hit, eliminating his and her bickering over what temperature to keep the car. The car likely had other features we weren't aware of, but this trip was more about exploring Utah than the exploring the cool aspects of our rental car. Ah, if only I knew then what I know now.

The trip to Utah was one of the best vacations of my life, so Buick now has an automatic positive association for me.

On my recent visit to Detroit I learned a few things about the 2014 Buick Lacrosse. Check out these features:
  • Adaptive cruise control (it senses the speed of the car in front of you and adjusts your car's speed--even stopping and accelerating- in reaction)
  • Intellink infotainment System with touch commands or voice control
  • USB port
  • Auxiliary port
  • 6 month free trial of OnStar Directions and Connections (i.e. hit your blue button to find the nearest Starbucks, access to vehicle diagnostics and stolen vehicle slowdown)
  • Remote start and remote keyless entry
  • 3-month trial of SiriusXM radio
  • and more
Also, all 2014 GM vehicles, including Buicks, get 5 years of free RemoteLink Key Fob Services. That allows owners to lock/unlock/start car with the RemoteLink App. One other option for Buick owners is "Experience Buick" leasing, which gives 2 years of included OnStar Directions and Connections. 

MSRP staring at just over $33,000

I thought this little bit was interesting, too. Starting in the 2013 model year the Buick Enclave, a luxury cross-over SUV began providing a front center air bag that pops up between the drive and front seat passenger for increased crash safety.


The blogger trip included a visit to the OnStar Command Center and the OnStar Call Center as well as a chance to see Detroit sites while riding around in tripped-out Buicks assisted by OnStar advisors. As part of the trip, I also had the opportunity to interview a couple of GM engineers as well as Susan Schneider, the Global Manager of GM's AppShop.


My trip to Detroit was sponsored GM and Onstar and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, but I was not required to post about it. 

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