|FIVE MINUTES ON THE road in a V8-powered 2004 Rainier sport/utility vehicle will make it abundantly clear what the future of GM’s Buick division looks like, or sounds like, or actually doesn’t sound like.
General Motors product czar Bob Lutz and the corporation’s management team have decided that Buick—closing in on its 100th anniversary in the car-making business on May 19—will become GM’s Lexus-like division. Cadillac is well into a plan to remake itself in the image of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, so the refined Teutonic performance front is covered. But Buick, suggests Lutz, could become the domestic equivalent of Toyota’s luxury brand—at least from a noise, vibration and harshness perspective.
This will become obvious, says Lutz, with the Rainier (above), due in September as Buick’s first model from the line of SUVs that now includes Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and the soon-to-depart Oldsmobile Bravada. It was indeed a drive in a specially prepared TrailBlazer that convinced Lutz and GM CEO and chairman-designate Rick Wagoner that ultraquiet and ultrasmooth is the way for Buick to go
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