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Buick's First Minivan Targets SUV Buyers with the Need for Space
by Joseph Cabadas , Canadian Auto Press

WARREN, Mich.--After years of offering vans with noncompetitive interiors, General Motors says it is getting serious about improving its position in the mid-size van market with two new entries, the 2005 Buick Terraza and Saturn Relay.

The introduction of the two vehicles, the first vans for either brand, was held December 4 at the Stage Three Productions facility on the grounds of the former Warren (Mich.) Tank Plant, where military vehicles had been produced since World War II to the early 1990s. The debut of the vans was also broadcast live on the Internet for journalists around the globe.

The Terraza and the Relay are vehicles that GM calls "mid vans" or "crossover sports vans" (CVS), a new approach to a segment currently occupied by the aging Chevy Venture and Pontiac Montana, as well as the outgoing Oldsmobile Silhouette. The Venture and Montana will also be phased out and replaced with vehicles built off the same platform as the Buick and Saturn vans.

These vehicles represent a substantial upgrade from the vehicles that they are replacing," said Robert A. Lutz, Product Development and Chairman, GM North America. "I can honestly say this is one of the best mid van interiors in the business. They look very European and very carefully crafted.

"I think we've gone from the current GM T200 interiors... that was without question the weakest part of the (Venture and Montana) and noncompetitive. Now we have gone to a better than competitive interior."

"Terraza positions Buick in the growth area of the mid-van market," said Roger Adams, Buick general manager. "Although the overall segment has declined slightly the last few years, sales of $30,000-plus vehicles have grown from 19 percent to 24 percent of the mid-van market.

"The goal here is to offer the customer substantially more value than has been offered in the General Motors mid vans up to now with far better performance, much nicer interiors, much nicer exteriors, higher functionality and yet remain price competitive with the other vans in the segment," Lutz said. "In Buick's case, it will be price competitive with the more premium brands like Chrysler's Town and Country."

Unlike several competitors that have integrated the track of the sliding doors with the rear windows, giving a seamless, clean look, the sheet metal between the C- and D-pillars of the Terraza and Relay is broken up into several panels much like many older minivans, detracting from the vehicle's overall appearance. The aluminum-colored rails of the luggage rack, however, add a touch of distinction.

"We think this is a better solution rather than having a third row seat that folds into a well," Lajdziak said. "You don't have to pull stuff out of the well and put on ground to flip seat into well. And when you need the extra storage, you can remove the storage unit and the seats."

The vans can sit two people in front, two in the center and three in the third row seats. There are storage compartments on the backs of the first and second row seats that provide a place to put headphones and other small items.

The second row of seats can fold down and flip forward, while the third row folds flat. The cargo area floor also includes a removable watertight cargo storage compartment which can hold milk containers, 12-pack beverage cans, and grocery bags. The forward edge of the dividers is cut out to create a long, left-to-right compartment, capable of holding lengthy items such as golf umbrellas.

The vans also come with 12 cup holders--two in the front instrument panel, four in each of two trays between the first and second row seats (two sized for Big Gulp drinks), and two in the rear quarter trim.

Production of the Terraza and Relay, plus its Pontiac and Chevy counterparts, will begin in the fourth quarter of 2004 at the GM Doraville Assembly Plant near Atlanta, Georgia. The plant has a maximum capacity of 250,000 units, which will be divided among the four models. And a version of the sports vans will be built in China starting in February 2005, Adams said.

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Finally a nice Crossover Sports VAN from GM, to compete with Chrysler Town & Country, I am getting sick of seeing so many of those. And their nice but the interior of the Terraza is much nicer, a nice van for Buick, since Cadillac van DOES NOT make sense.
GM must price this competively with Chrysler Town & Country, Toyota Sienna and Mercury Monterey prices of these in order TOP MODELS $40,235, $36,930, $35,110

$36,900 sounds right for this CSV
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Originally posted by GotAWD@Jan 30 2004, 04:19 AM
tell me its only gonna be at least a 5speed auto in it, with all wheel drive?
Try 4-speed auto, & a console shifter. Upgraded 3.4L from the Venture, now a 200hp "3500".

But the Montana had Versatrak AWD, so I don't see why not on that.

So it looks like the engine and the interior (and the front end of the vehicle) are where the Terraza really makes the improvements, compared to the old Minivans like the Venture and Silhouette.

For that price though, you're right, a 4-speed is ridiculous, if only for the reason that all of the competitors are seeking to improve fuel economy with more efficient, modern transmissions.
 

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Ming, I don't think that the transmission is the only part of this minivan that isn't modern! :D

I'll admit that I have a hard time tempering my distaste of GM's minivans, so I apologize in advance for the toxic nature of this post.

More often than not, I'm pleased with the direction that GM's products of late are taking, but their approach to the minivan market is just plain sad. I can't think of a single way in which the Terraza and Relay (and presumably the upcoming Uplander and Montana SV6) unequivocally surpass their competitors. The CSV designation and design philosophy simply camouflage a malnourished minivan strategy.

And to defend these vehicles by saying that "they're alright" or "not that bad" (opinions with which I take no exception, incidentally) proves the point that at the end of the day, GM's effort on these minivans was weak. They'll get you from point A to B, and they're not horribly offensive to look at. But their competitors (DCX, Honda, Toyota, Nissan) do that, too, but with *arguably* greater versatility, technology, style, function, reliability (Honda and Toyota), and comparably-equipped value (Honda, Toyota, and Nissan).

It's frustrating to think that the monies spent on creating 4 different variations of this minivan (let's be frank, they're minivans, and nothing else) and the marketing it will take to move all 4 siblings could have been focused on making one, single memorable minivan. Both strategies have at least equal chances of insuring that Doraville builds 250,000 vehicles per annum. The only difference is now GM will be building 4 decent [and forgettable] vehicles at a time when having a good quality product in the auto industry is not enough to secure longterm viability. You would think that after 25 years GM would have picked up on that painfully obvious fact!

In the end, these 4 vans are definitely not "gotta have."
 

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The Terraza and Relay, plus the two other minivans (Uplander & SV6) are competitive enough. I mean, we can't complain because GM has already built them. Personally I think that the Buick Terraza is a real improvement over any of the other GM minivans. They looked old, and cheap, and offered the latest features coming out after everyone else did. The only way your going to be a 'first' is if you create something first. Dodge created the minivan, and now GM's gonna create 'Phat Noise', and continue creating the 'Overhead Railing system' until the minivan can't get better even more. Personally, the Terraza will prove real competition. Here's what I want to see for the minivans....

Relay $19,000-$25,600
Uplander $21,300-$28,900
SV6 $22,333-$30,500
Terraza $27,600-$33,000

They should all be priced at different $$$'s.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Jan 30 2004, 04:11 PM


It's frustrating to think that the monies spent on creating 4 different variations of this minivan (let's be frank, they're minivans, and nothing else) and the marketing it will take to move all 4 siblings could have been focused on making one, single memorable minivan. Both strategies have at least equal chances of insuring that Doraville builds 250,000 vehicles per annum. The only difference is now GM will be building 4 decent [and forgettable] vehicles at a time when having a good quality product in the auto industry is not enough to secure longterm viability.
Not to mention, four vaguely distinct offerings takes one big step back from the progress GM's making to separate its brands.

A Chevy and Pontiac alone may have netted comparable sales, without the millions spent on fascia tooling and marketing campaigns for Saturn and Buick. It all comes down to a whiny dealer network, and GM's need to appease them all. Just another revelation that too many brands are taking shelter under the General's umbrella.
 

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I just have one question, why is GM still using a 4 speed auto for almost EVERYTHING?!? That just seems to be very cheap move. Why do they go through all of the time and effort to build 4 minivans when they could have just used two and stick the additional money into developing a 5 or 6 speed auto?? I'm sick of seeing prices in the 30-40K range coming with 4 speeds. In the compact car segment, I suppose that it's necessary to keep costs down. But just think of all the cars they could put a new 5 or 6 speed auto in!

Malibu, Impala, Monte Carlo, L300, Bonneville, Cobalt SS, Grand Am, Grand Prix, GTO, all these minivans, Century, LaSabre, Park Avenue, Regal, DeVille, Seville, Alero, and those are just the cars!

The four speed auto was about 10 years ago GM, welcome to the new millenium.
 

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I saw the Terazza today in Toronto and I was surprised how good it looked. The Saturn was so so, but the Buick version in a deep red looked very classy, better than any van on the market in that respect. Interior also looked very good. Upscale van shoppers will definitely be looking at this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Originally posted by ibechip@Feb 12 2004, 12:34 AM
I'm sick of seeing prices in the 30-40K range coming with 4 speeds. In the compact car segment, I suppose that it's necessary to keep costs down. But just think of all the cars they could put a new 5 or 6 speed auto in!

The four speed auto was about 10 years ago GM, welcome to the new millenium.
The funny thing is that the Saturn ION uses a 5-speed automatic, and it is far cheaper than the Buick. :D
 

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I wonder what buyers will choose more: a Terraza or Town & Country. I, honestly, think they will choose the TC because of that interesting Stow n Go feature and more people know the Chrysler TC.
 

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The Terazza definitely has a stronger and more masculine look to it so I'm sure it will sell well though as you say, T&C has the name.
 
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