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This article can be summarized like this:

* It's just another gussied up GM vehicle
* No it's not!
* Yes it is!
* No it's not!
* Yes it is!
* No it's not!...

The author spends the first page and a half whining about the tired "gussied up Chevy" argument, then goes on to discuss how the Buick sets itself apart from its corporate siblings, then goes back and forth from there.

Somewhere in it all, there's an actual road test.

Not to rant about the whole "corporate sharing" thing (there's plenty of that elsewhere on this site), but some of these writers need to make up their mind. You can't say "gussied up" and "distinctive" in the same article and then make a corporate sharing argument either way! Geez!

Article follows:

Sometimes when an automaker comes to market with a new vehicle it just seems to fill a void that wasn't properly represented either by manufacturers as a whole or the particular brand itself. And then other times, I'm left scratching my head in wonderment as to why it exists at all.

General Motors is taking brand engineering to a new level with the Rainier and its SUV siblings.

Take the new Buick Rainier. Is it nice? Yeah, it's easily as good as the Chevy Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and soon to be discontinued Oldsmobile Bravada, near identical siblings that each deserves respect. In the U.S., consumers even get another GM SUV clone in the Isuzu Ascender that replaced the long-running Trooper last year. As it seems the General is taking brand engineering to a new level, a philosophy the world's largest automaker promised years ago it would discontinue.

(GMI Note: Check out the text of this photo caption, placed right in the middle of the article's complaint of lack of distinction!...)
The 2004 Rainier features distinctive front end styling and a few unique interior surface treatments.
(...end of caption)

But why stop there, joining the Rainier will be the upcoming Saab 9-7 based once again on the same architecture. It is one thing to want to bolster sales in what was a bleeding Swedish brand when the concept was envisioned (its sales have since improved dramatically with the onset of the impressive 9-3), but to base Saab's first SUV on a body-on-frame truck platform is extremely difficult to understand. After all, it has to go up against a slew of Asian and European premium competitors including Volvo's exceptionally good XC90.

more...
 

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:( GM will not give up badge engineering, especially where SUVs, light trucks, and minivans are concerned. Look at the Escalade/Tahoe-Suburban/Yukon-Denali. Despite the high profits generated by these vehicles, and the huge cost that customers pay for them, they are not treated to unique sheetmetal (except front ends), or interiors. This is most painfully obvious in the case of the Escalade, which shares so much of it's interior with a standard Chevy pick-up! Toyota is also guilty of this, to some degree, by badge engineering the Lexus LX450, from the Toyota Land Cruiser. At least, the Land Cruiser is already in the Lexus' price range. Forcing a Cadillac customer, who has just paid 60K for an Escalade, to share a dated dashboard design, with a $18,000.00 pick-up is just plain wrong. Nissan seems to be following the faulty GM plan, by utilizing too many common parts between the Nissan Titan pick-up, Nissan Armada SUV, an Infiniti QX45. Ford has the good sense to offer some distinct differences between it's Lincoln and Ford branded vehicles, especially in the interiors. The Mercury Mariner (also known as the Ford Escape) is a letdown, in this regard.

The Rainier is definitely more about absorbing excess capacity, which is created by the eventual loss of the Bravada. I cannot even begin to explain the reasons why the Isuzu Ascender exists! I am not even certain why there still needs to be a GMC division. The standard company line claims that GMC extends SUV and pick-up sales to franchises that do not otherwise offer these types of vehicles. Wouldn't GM save a whole lot of development and advertisement money by ditching GMC, and adding the added capacity to the Chevy line-up? Buick/Ponitac potential customers probably aren't considering buying a pick-up, anyway. Buick/Pontiac could probably use the savings to create a unique crossover platform, to replace the Aztek/Rendevous. Buick's Centinne concept, from last year, would be so much more fitting to Buick's customers' needs, than a rebadged Bravada/Envoy/Trailblazer/Ascender/9-7X.

Why can't GM see the marketing advantage of having unique vehicles, throughout it's many brands? Look at Honda, and how they generate the Accord, Pilot SUV, Odyssey minivan, and Acura MDX SUV all from a single platform. Real distinction occurs, which prevents cross-shopping and internal competition. It is easier to maintain such distinction with fewer brands, as in the case with Honda/Acura, Nissan/Infiniti, Toyota/Lexus, Ford/Lincoln-Mercury, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep. Maybe GM should scale back it's number of divisions, even further?
 

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parakleets, you make many very good points. personally, i don't see why saturn ever existed in the first place...so i feel it certainly needs to go. the idea of buick making minivans and SUV's is just absurd. i think GM figures that as soon as they have a successful vehicle (trailblazer/envoy) that they need to make as many freakin variations of it as possible to try and cash in on the success. but somehow it seems they don't realize that it deminishes everything that is on that platform by making 4 other vehicles that look just like it. stupid.
 

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I was under the assumption that the only thing that thses SUV's share in sheetmetal are the front doors and the roof. That doesnt sound like badge engineering to me. The Caprice Wagon and the Olds wagon... now to me that was badge engineering. Yes the SUV's kinda have the same overall shape, but I think they look different from eachother.
 

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Originally posted by parakleets@Dec 30 2003, 12:14 PM
I am not even certain why there still needs to be a GMC division. The standard company line claims that GMC extends SUV and pick-up sales to franchises that do not otherwise offer these types of vehicles. Wouldn't GM save a whole lot of development and advertisement money by ditching GMC, and adding the added capacity to the Chevy line-up?  Buick/Ponitac potential customers probably aren't considering buying a pick-up, anyway.
I wouldn't really say this, 2 people I know have considered pick-ups and one has boughten one. My gramps has a LeSabre and he bought a Sierra. I've considered pick-ups and I have a Grand Prix. I'd take the Sierra over the Silverado, it looks better in my opinion. And if I were to get a pick-up and all GM was offering was the Silverado I'd go somewhere else to get a pick-up. With my gramps it was either GMC or Ford. My point is that there are buyers out there that consider aesthetics in buying pick-ups and while the drive train may be damn good, we don't want to be driving a fugly truck. I'm hoping that GMC is still around when we go truck hunting later this year. Can't get the 8.1 in any other truck that looks that good :D

Edit: I meant 2004 by this year.
 

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Originally posted by LGRpup@Dec 30 2003, 10:16 PM
I was under the assumption that the only thing that thses SUV's share in sheetmetal are the front doors and the roof.  That doesnt sound like badge engineering to me.  The Caprice Wagon and the Olds wagon... now to me that was badge engineering.  Yes the SUV's kinda have the same overall shape, but I think they look different from eachother.
Amen "Logger-Pup". ("Lugar Pup"? "Lager Poop"?...) ;)

I don't want to come down too harshly on folks who disagree with me on this, but knee-jerk reactions involving the term "badge-engineering" are a bit obnoxious IMHO.

The Ranier is does a fine job of projecting a distinct Buick identity--I hardly think anyone is going to mistake it for a GMC or a Chevy. It looks like a Buick, rides like a Buick, walks like a Buick, talks like a Buick--it's a frickin' Buick, okay?

Heck, even the author of this article wasn't able to demonstrate conclusively that this is just a badge-engineered Trailblazer, and you can tell that he really REALLY wanted to.

And please, can we move past all this talk about sharing platforms and other parts among GM divisions? Yes, of course we want distinction, but not by doing something as ridiculous as reinventing the wheel every time a division asks for a new SUV to satisfy its customer base.

In and of itself, badge-engineering is not a crime. When done properly--and I stress, WHEN DONE PROPERLY--it is an efficient way to extend a product line in one division without hurting the prospects for that type of vehicle in other divisions.

One can certainly argue whether or not the Ranier was "done properly", but I think it's a fine looking vehicle--inside and out--and very clearly a Buick. Opinions may vary, but the Ranier doesn't deserve to have mud slung at it just because it shares a platform and some interior parts with another successful GM vehicle.

And yes, Buick MUST HAVE an SUV. Buicks appeal to those who prefer more traditional American cars, and that market is still huge even though a lot of folks here can't relate to it. That market may represent some of us older folks (I'm 36, and I'd take a Park Avenue over a comparably priced Lexus any day of the week), but even us older folks want SUV's.

So, I hope I don't sound too harsh on those who disagree, but...(start Lennon music)...all I am say-ing...is give Ranier a chance... :p
 

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my 04 Ranier is one cherry automobile. i am 47 and I love the Bose premium sound..the 300 horses under the hood. the leather seats.....the smooth ride..I could go on and on..Buick did it right..this is NO trailblazer or envoy............. and sure as Frig aint no Mountaineer!!!!...........
 

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Rainier is super Quite.. Inside its like a carmelite Chappel....
The only thinyou hear is Hush... not even the engine hum...Puts the RX and GX to shame in the quite level


I will buy one when they are discontinued.. i am sure there will be a black CSX on the lot somewhere no one wants.

How did I become a GM fan?
I go test drive cars myself....
I do not wait for motortrend...
 

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We have owned a 2005 Ranier CXL for almost 2 years now, and it's easily the nicest overall all-around vehicle we have ever had. Deathly quiet on the highway, even at 75 - 80 mph. The 4.2L I-6 is extremely powerful, it has no problem with quick passing even at Interstate speeds. The XM / Bose sound system is outstanding, far better than the Mark Levinson unit in our friends RX330. The seats are comfortable for our 7 hour ride between northern IL and Lake of the Ozarks. And to boot, my wife loves it -- who could ask for more.
 
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