GM Inside News Forum banner

1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,279 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2004 Buick Rainier
Badge engineering is alive — and well.
by TCC Team (2004-01-12)



Badge engineering is alive and well. It was just a few years ago that the automakers, especially General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, all were talking about really doing away with the practice, which basically amounts to slapping a different badge and grille on a vehicle already sold by one of the company's divisions. Mercury was supposed to get unique cars. Chrysler euthanized Plymouth in part because it had no unique vehicles to sell. And GM whacked Oldsmobile so it could focus its product development resources on giving every division unique vehicles. Great plan, eh?

Forget it. Enter the Buick Rainier. This sport-ute isn't too much more than a Chevy TrailBlazer or GMC Envoy with Buick's signature falling-water grille. I'm sure that Buick styling is indispensable for the division's die-hards, however many there are. But in reality, the Rainier exists because, with the death of Oldsmobile and its Bravada SUV, GM needed to maximize production at its mid-size SUV plants and do so without forcing more inventory on Chevy and GMC dealers. GM workers are now turning out Rainiers instead of Bravadas. Also, Buick dealers need something more to sell.

For the entire review click: here.

To View comments or to discuss this review and possibly sending an e-mail to TCC over their ridiculous comments click:here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,258 Posts
I'm sorry, but what's so rediculous about this review? Is it because it points out (rightfully) that it is indeed a rebadged Trailblazer? Yeah, other companies do that crap as well, but so what if somebody points it out in a review of a vehicle?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
I too agree... the Rainer... is a pretty sorry attempt and is clearly a badge changed Olds Bravada. My had has a loaded Envoy... nice truck, but it still is lacking in the lux/refinement department as a Touraeg, MDX, RX330 et al. The author was also right on... an Envoy or Trailblazer is just about as nice and has almost all the same features at a lower price.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
I don't see anything wrong with it either.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Originally posted by Ballistic@Jan 13 2004, 04:32 AM
an Envoy or Trailblazer is just about as nice and has almost all the same features at a lower price.
But they don't have a Buick grille! :p

Actually, I think we should at least be happy about this:

1. Rainier carries over the mechanical differences the Bravada had
2. Rainier offers the V8 on a short wheelbase only
3. Rainier has sound deadening material all over, even in the glass
4. Rainier has those difficult to read gauges from the Rendezvous. :p

If you think that is badge engineering at its worst, wait until the pushrod powered Saab 9-7 comes out... <_<
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,231 Posts
Originally posted by Ming@Jan 13 2004, 07:34 AM
If you think that is badge engineering at its worst
Ok- this is the way I see it-- Buick isn't going to steal many sales from the other GM brands with the Rainier- GM is keeping production capacity filled- and the Ranier is a worthy Buick, whether any other GM SUVs exist or not. I don't really see it as blatent badge engineering, but if it is- why not?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
I was a good boy and posted in the other forum like you asked me to, but I had to say something here as well. This is just ridiculous, and I think those of us who are too ready to agree to such nonsense should think twice.

Let me start by saying this as emphatically as I can on the reader's computer screen:

If someone can't tell the difference between a Ranier and a TrailBlazer, he shouldn't be writing reviews.

I'm getting really annoyed by the careless use of the term "badge-engineering" to support biased, pre-determined views. Statements to the tune of "all they did was take a Chevy and put a Buick front-end on it" are not only pathetically inaccurate on their face, they also demonstrate ignorance about sensible brand extension and sensible manufacturing efficiency.

There were more than 430,000 Buick customers last year--chalk them up to old people, fleet sales, or what have you--that's a lot of vehicle sales. Do you think any of those 400K+ buyers were screaming for a Buick SUV? (Those who answer "no", please excuse yourself from any further discussion here and rejoin your other friends at WeNeverReallyLandedOnTheMoon.com.)

The Buick Ranier is a necessary extension to the Buick line, and it represents Buick very well. Of course it shares a platform and some interior parts with its GMC and Chevrolet cousins--what kind of moron would look around at what GM already has and conclude that they should re-design, re-plan, re-cast, re-tool, re-market, re-hire and generally re-do??

The Ranier succeeds in being a fine SUV that rides like a Buick--even the dip-switches at TCC admit that, i.e.:

I drove the Rainier on some of Detroit's pockmarked highways...and it floated over the potholes, seams, and bumps like a big ole Buick should.
The Ranier also creates enough distinction and identity to attract and satisfy Buick customers. Heck, I'm not a Buick customer, but I want one.

That's "enough" distinction, not "total" distinction. Buick buyers do not pay for the kind of near-total distinction that Cadillac buyers hope to get, nor do Chevrolet and GMC buyers. Nor do Acura MDX/Honda Pilot buyers. Nor do Mercury Mountaineer/Ford Explorer buyers. Nor do Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Stratus buyers. Nor do Lexus ES300/Toyota Camry buyers...shall I go on?

Brand extension and badge-engineering are facts of life, and it's been that way since our own Mr. Sloan made it so about 70 years ago. The sophomoric thing to do as a writer is to bash the brand they hate over the head with it while ignoring others who also do it who they find more favorable, and that's exactly what these writers have done.

Hopefully, the writers at TCC will improve their writing and analysis skills once they graduate Junior High school.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
I have sold two Rainiers, both to older (AARP member) women who also drove and considered both a Trailblazer and a Rendezvous. The deciding factors over a Trailblazer were AWD that they did not have to push a button for, and better ride. I believe that in their minds they thought they should be driving a Buick as well. One traded in a Lesabre and the other traded a Gran Prix.

Neither of them liked the Rendezvous in comparison, which I happen to agree with from a driving standpoint.

I thought the review was ok and the Rainier does have a place in the Buick lineup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,519 Posts
That review is very fair. They gave the Buick some credit where due, but pointed out that it's a mild refreshening of the Tblazer. Nothing fictional at all in there. I'm a GM fan, but I would have been much harder on them in a review. There have been many discussions about it elsewhere in the forum. If the 360 SUV was offered only in a couple versions, such as a Chevy and Buick, it could work.. much like Lexus rebadges Toyota SUVs . But there are SIX brands sharing 360 sheetmetal. Chevy to GMC to Olds, then Buick to Saab to Isuzu....SEVEN if Saturn gets one as planned.

GM has spent the past decade trying to bring uniqueness back to each brand. The damage started in the 1980s, with Xcars, Jcars, and others selling the same basic package across every division. This watered down the differences between all the brands, from Chevy to Cadillac, and the Cimarron and Skyhawk totally eroded the premium image of Cadillac and Buick. Not just because they were small cars, but because they were thinly-veiled Chevrolets! GM took on all sorts of brand management initiatives in the '90s to fix the damage. Only recently, after 20 years of sucking hind t*t, has Cadillac begun to recover... and for this reason, Caddy is the only division NOT getting a 360.

There were five J-cars (Cav, Sunbird, Firenza, Skyhawk, and Cimarron), each almost identical except for badge, grille, and some trim. It was a bad thing.

There are six or seven GMT360s (TBlazer, Envoy, Bravada, Rainier, 9-7X, Ascender, Saturn), each almost identical except for badge, grille, and some trim. It is a very bad thing.

Proved disastrous in the 80s, and it's no better today... the fact that the 360 is a better vehicle than the J-cars makes the business case no more appropriate. GM brass ought to be hung for leveraging sheetmetal across the entire portfiolio like this. They're repeating what was GM's most costly 20th century mistake.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,231 Posts
Originally posted by desmo9@Jan 13 2004, 11:38 AM
There are six or seven GMT360s (TBlazer, Envoy, Bravada, Rainier, 9-7X, Ascender, Saturn), each almost identical except for badge, grille, and some trim.
The vehicles offer unique sheetmetal and unique interiors. They are vehicles of the same type with entirely different personalities- personalities formed by style and ride/drive characteristics.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Originally posted by desmo9@Jan 13 2004, 12:38 PM
There were five J-cars (Cav, Sunbird, Firenza, Skyhawk, and Cimarron), each almost identical except for badge, grille, and some trim. It was a bad thing.

There are six or seven GMT360s (TBlazer, Envoy, Bravada, Rainier, 9-7X, Ascender, Saturn), each almost identical except for badge, grille, and some trim. It is a very bad thing.
You make a good point here, but I disagree with your conclusion. Sure, GM ought not return to the practice of creating similar vehicles on the same platform over so many brands, but I don't see how that leads to writing off the Ranier in such simple terms as "just a TrailBlazer with a Buick front-end".

The argument you should make, IMO, is that GM is using the platform in places where, maybe, it shouldn't, (i.e. I don't think a Saab form of this vehicle will fly and the Isuzu version truly does lack an Isuzu identity). Otherwise, the Bravada is gone after '04, the TrailBlazer, Envoy, and Ranier are excellent and sufficiently distinct renditions of this vehicle IMO, and I think it makes more sense for Saturn to offer an SUV on that platform than it does for them to offer a Solstice-based roadster. :rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
776 Posts
Clearly you people have never been in a Ranier. It rides considerably different than a Trailblazer, which rides somewhat differently than an Envoy. You people are so silly. I bet you believe things like "Japanese cars are more reliable, because, well, I say so. That's why."

Sorry, but just because they share the same platform or even the same engine does not make them the same. One is clearly more upscale. One need only sit inside. They have suspensions calibrated very differently. And lastly, the 360 is an excellent excellent platform and why should it be a bad thing if more great vehicles are built on it? Sheesh. I don't even like SUV's, you people need to calm down. Not every GM vehicle is going to be a Corvette.

Oh yeah, but if they made a 25K Corvette called the Camaro you whiners would probably hate that too because it's BADGE ENGINEERED.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,519 Posts
Originally posted by Mr_Pringle+Jan 13 2004, 09:03 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Mr_Pringle @ Jan 13 2004, 09:03 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-desmo9@Jan 13 2004, 11:38 AM
There are six or seven GMT360s (TBlazer, Envoy, Bravada, Rainier, 9-7X, Ascender, Saturn), each almost identical except for badge, grille, and some trim.
The vehicles offer unique sheetmetal and unique interiors. They are vehicles of the same type with entirely different personalities- personalities formed by style and ride/drive characteristics. [/b][/quote]
I wasn't writing off the Rainier. I said if there were only a couple divisions using that sheetmetal, it'd be a different picture. But there are too many. Six or Seven is way too many. If just three out of ten prospective Buick buyers see this as a rebadged Chevy, and it's probably more like 8 out of 10, what's that do for Buick's image in the long run? Are they gonna get to premium-status that way? And the other 2 out of 10 are probably Buick fans to begin with, and would buy $hit on a shingle if it said Buick on the label.

The side profile of EVERY 360 is IDENTICAL except for the shape of the side-rear quarter glass. There is no unique sheetmetal, except for the different hoodlines needed to fit oval grilles vs. square grilles. If you see unique sheetmetal across the range, your eyes need recalibration. If there WAS unique sheetmetal, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The J-car series had the same (scant) level of diversification as these SUVs... unique grilles, trim pieces, and a couple different instrument panels to go around. That's it. Throw power windows and a bottle of Old Spice in a Cavalier, and you can sell it as a Cadillac for a 40% premium. Awesome leverage of investment. Paid off the tooling in one year....just took 25 more years to fix the damage.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Originally posted by desmo9@Jan 13 2004, 06:34 PM
Throw power windows and a bottle of Old Spice in a Cavalier, and you can sell it as a Cadillac for a 40% premium.
Whoa whoa whoa. Please observe the "no Cimarron discussion" rule here. I'm still officially in denial.

:rudolph:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
522 Posts
The mid-sized GM SUVs may indeed all be good, if not great vehicles, but ditributing them across so many brands waters down any positive buzz. Everyone knows what a Grand Cherokee is, and by keeping the the GC unique to Jeep, Chrysler does not have to spend big bucks explaining what it is, and how it is different from any other platform mates. GM, on the other hand, has yet to clearly explain the difference between a Chevy truck and a GMC truck. Why does any of this matter??? I recently saw a list of the top twenty selling vehicles of 2003, and the Ford F150 again was the clear leader. Ford (wisely) spins this distinction to their marketing advantage. When you add up the numbers, however, the combined sales of the Chevy Silverado, and GMC full-sized are greater than Ford's! Unfortunately, because of this dual-branding, Chevy cannot claim to have the best selling vehicle in the U.S.

Spreading the Trailblazer around to all of the GM brands, except Pontiac and Cadillac, is a cheap and quick way to get new/different product into weak or thin line-ups (Saab, Saturn, Buick, Isuzu). It is especially curious, in the case of the Rainier and Envoy, because GMC and Buick are more frequently being sold in the same showrooms. I hope that the plan works, allowing GM time to develop new and proper vehicles, that would be unique to the brands. It would be great if GM could develop a mid-sized, passenger car-based crossover/SUV, for the luxury brands (Cadillac/Buick/Saab), and a seperate, less expensive platform for Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Saturn. It would also be a neat trick, if GM could spin unique minivans, and FWD sedans off of this lower-priced, crossover platform, in the same way the Honda builds the Odyssey, and Pilot off of the Accord platform.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,704 Posts
I wasn't writing off the Rainier. I said if there were only a couple divisions using that sheetmetal, it'd be a different picture. But there are too many. Six or Seven is way too many. If just three out of ten prospective Buick buyers see this as a rebadged Chevy, and it's probably more like 8 out of 10, what's that do for Buick's image in the long run? Are they gonna get to premium-status that way? And the other 2 out of 10 are probably Buick fans to begin with, and would buy $hit on a shingle if it said Buick on the label.
In this case, both arguments are pretty well made. The GMT360's spawnings and offsprings are a bit out of control, but they are the result of dealers (and their customers) wanting product, and wanting it now. Buick dealers wanted the Rainier from the get-go, and their customers wanted a tow-worthy Buick SUV. Saab dealerships have complained for years of customers arriving in search of an SUV, and just turning around and leaving when the dealership had none. Isuzu needed a quick brace for the disastrous sales of its weird-though-worthy Axiom.

As for the sheetmetal, it's considerably different among the family, even if the profiles remain the same. Perhaps the doors are the same, and maybe the hoods, roofs, and liftgates, but that's it. I know that a lot of shoppers look for cool-looking, identity-shaping doors, but those of us in need of more than just optical recalibration find the biggest differentiators among vehicles to be grilles, headlights, fenders, wheels, and greenhouse. These are all unique to each GMT360, and they're all easier to tell apart from their beloved badge-engineered competitors.

Maybe the Cimmaron is off-limits, but the Pilot/MDX aren't, nor are the Pathfinder Armada/QX56, nor are the Toureg/Cayenne/Cayenne V6. Those vehicles differ primarily in their grilles and headlights. I can barely fathom the difference in the Pilot and MDX, and I used to be an insect taxonomist.

I've been pretty liberal about the backhanded anti-Americanism in the automotive press, but the Rainier articles that Coolcaddy has posted clearly demonstrate that bias, in faulting the Rainier for non-faults, when the above imports get glowing gushes of the warm and fuzzy despite sharing the same non-faults. I don't fault the entire industry, but these writers clearly show off their desire to be clever movie critics and not journalists.

I've only been close to the Rainier, and I think it's spectacular, especially in black. It does exactly what it's supposed to do, and its introduction, independent of the dealers' wants, is wise in the broadened appeal of the marque wrought by the Rendezvous. Premium SUV customers who want the premium appointments, and still want to pull a boat, will be well-served by the Rainier. I reckon that many of their MDX-driving friends will be suitably impressed riding along.

Furthermore, the Rainier is my favorite of the GMT360's.

Ghrankenstein
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,258 Posts
Originally posted by banzai79@Jan 13 2004, 06:05 PM
Clearly you people have never been in a Ranier. It rides considerably different than a Trailblazer, which rides somewhat differently than an Envoy. You people are so silly. I bet you believe things like "Japanese cars are more reliable, because, well, I say so. That's why."

Sorry, but just because they share the same platform or even the same engine does not make them the same. One is clearly more upscale. One need only sit inside. They have suspensions calibrated very differently. And lastly, the 360 is an excellent excellent platform and why should it be a bad thing if more great vehicles are built on it? Sheesh. I don't even like SUV's, you people need to calm down. Not every GM vehicle is going to be a Corvette.

Oh yeah, but if they made a 25K Corvette called the Camaro you whiners would probably hate that too because it's BADGE ENGINEERED.
Yes, I would complain if Chevy offered a $25k Corvette labeled as "Camaro". Why? Because that's silly and rediculous. Let's see if we can't keep this one on a more realistic level. If the last Firebird had been a rebadged Camaro (literally), a lot of people would have complained. It was mechanically the same, but it had a radically different appearance. There's no getting a 4th gen Firebird and Camaro mixed up, even at considerable distance. 3rd gen, maybe, but not 4th gen. On the other hand, GM and Ford are both doing a lot of minor alterations to vehicles to differentiate them between the brands, which I think really fails to give the brands much... what's the word I want.. soul? Mercury is perhaps the most blatant case of badge engineering there is - yes, there are some differences between those and the Ford vehicles, but until you see the badge, it's often hard to tell that it's anything other than a Ford. How often have we seen a non-descript Crown Vic with tinted windows, thought it might be an unmarked police cruiser, only to get closer and realize it's a freaking Grand Marquis? Plymouth was disbanded because it was just rebadged Dodge and Chrysler vehicles. Oldsmobile was disbanded partly for that reason, and partly because it was just one too many divisions for GM to really use. Multiple different vehicles on one platform is fine, as long as they are all fairly unique (such as what Ford is doing with the Mazda6 platform).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
Originally posted by Mr_Pringle+Jan 13 2004, 04:03 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Mr_Pringle @ Jan 13 2004, 04:03 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-desmo9@Jan 13 2004, 11:38 AM
There are six or seven GMT360s (TBlazer, Envoy, Bravada, Rainier, 9-7X, Ascender, Saturn), each almost identical except for badge, grille, and some trim.
The vehicles offer unique sheetmetal and unique interiors. They are vehicles of the same type with entirely different personalities- personalities formed by style and ride/drive characteristics. [/b][/quote]
Unique, yes. Unique enough NO.

You can still park them side by side and tell that they are clearly related. The same goes for the interior. Sure the center stack may be slighty different, but honestly you can tell they are related.

I honestly think that GM needs to get rid of GMC and spin off Chevy trucks as their own division. We all know that Chevy trucks is more well known than GMC. Then sell those trucks at each dealer brand. Give the TB several levels of refinement and different interiors at each level (i.e. new F150).

Besides it wasn't long ago that GM said that GMC was to be the Luxury Truck division. Remember the Denali came before the Escalade.

A good example of premium/standard platform sharing is the RX300 and the Highlander. To look at them side by side you would never know that they are related. Not from the interior or the exterior. Others the Crossfire and SLK, or the Accord/TL, or the G35/350z.

I will give GM credit for the 9-3/Malibu and (new Chevy SUV)/Vue
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
533 Posts
I'm the last one to defend this 'badge engineering', but I believe that of the other makes mentioned above; Plymouth was put on life support in the late '70s and they got no respect from the consumers until the minivan showed up (and even then, the platform dilution still killed them off)

As for Oldsmobile, thats a sore spot for me. They had good product, and were starting their way back. If I remember correctly, that division was killed due to sales volume, yet it outsold both Saab and Saturn.

I think the main question may be are either companies (GM & DCX) better for killing the brands or worse by simply folding their product lines into existing brands and further diluting the overall line? Personally, I would have liked to see the Aurora freshened as a top-of-the line Roadmaster or Wildcat... :drevil:
 
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
Top