Chicago Auto Show 2011 Round-up: GM

While GM’s stands at the Chicago Auto Show didn’t offer much in the way of new concept vehicles, the company showed a strong line-up of new production models paired with a new, more powerful Camaro.
On the Cadillac stand, the focal point of their display was undeniably the CTS-V range. On the floor, the company had placed two CTS-V sedans and two CTS-V wagons (including one in Diamond Black with full tint and black wheels), with a CTS-V coupe on a turntable above the others.
They say that a picture’s worth a thousand words, so these photos should explain it all.

GMC’s stand was by far the tamest of GM’s four brands. The company had a single concept on display: the vaguely Ford Raptor-like GMC Sierra All-Terrain HD. Packing a 6.6 liter Duramax turbodiesel V8, the concept develops almost 400 horsepower and an Earth-shattering 765 lb-ft of torque. However, where the Raptor’s focus seems to be more towards a Baja truck for the road, the Sierra All-Terrain is a more work-focused truck.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Buick stand was showing two new production models, as they rapidly update their product line. The first, the Buick Verano, is a compact sedan based on the Cruze. While this will likely draw unfavorable comparisons to the Cadillac Cimarron, the car is aimed a little lower down the segment, pitched towards the Volvo S40 and Saab 9-3. The comparison to the Cimarron was inescapable in my mind, though, despite the car’s solid build quality and relatively low price tag (starting around an estimated $24k).

The second was much more up this hoon’s alley, though. The Regal GS, which debuted at NAIAS, was making one of its first appearances on the show circuit in Chicago, and it looks like it’ll be a pretty good car to drive. Based on the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, it has the same two-liter turbo Ecotec that’s found in the top-of-the-line Verano and assorted other GM models. In this particular iteration, it puts out 255 horsepower and an impressive 295 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels, although it is remains a mystery why Buick did not keep the Insignia OPC/VXR’s 2.8 liter turbocharged V6. Hopefully this means we’ll see a Regal GNX of some sort (although to many enthusiasts, including myself, reviving the nameplate verges on sacrilege).

Chevrolet introduced a few new cars for the 2012 model year at the show, including a brand new variant of the Camaro: the ZL1. The ZL1, which has the CTS-V’s 6.2 liter supercharged LSA V8, will put out over 550 horsepower, making it the most powerful production Camaro ever.

This stands in massive contrast to Chevrolet’s other major new offering at Chicago, the Sonic. As Chevrolet’s new subcompact, the Sonic steps into a segment in which GM has historically had little to no success. As everyone remembers, the Aveo was (to put it lightly) an absolute turd, so expectations aren’t high. However, the Sonic seems like a huge step up over the Aveo, with the engines and underpinnings from the Cruze. The interior is also put together well, with a superbike-style instrument binnacle and a digital speedometer with shift lights. Whether it actually drives better than an Aveo, though, remains to be seen.

In short, GM’s offerings at the show run the gamut. However, it’s clear that the company has made some improvements across its line, including some significantly better models, that will help the company compete in a crowded marketplace.

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  1. topdeadcentre Avatar

    I must rescue that poor CTS-V wagon, taking immediate ownership by royal decree. Black cars with black rims look dull, and such a situation calls for drastic measures!

  2. nitroracer Avatar

    I don't know if anyone else shares the same sentiment, but I think the Regal GS looks more 'special' than the Camaro ZL-1. The camaro looks relatively plain compared to the wild high end mustangs. The Regal has those mean cutouts under the head lights, more attractive wheels, and a nice heaping of all wheel drive. I do wish it kept the turbo-six though.

    1. JacobDFriedman Avatar

      Yeah, it's a nice looking car to be sure, but I agree that it's missing a bit too much turbo-six for my tastes.

  3. Black Steelies Avatar

    There's a new white Regal parked outside that is the 2011 equivalent of my '96. I've been meaning to park side by side and snap a pic.
    In other news… CTS-V WAGON. Puh-lease depreciate, most that I talk to do not understand its majesty and prefer to say asinine things like "Why wouldn't you just get the coupe? A sports wagon makes no sense."

  4. facelvega Avatar

    I'm going to go against the trend here and say that the CTS coupe is a far better design than the wagon. I love wagons, just not that one.
    I will, however, agree with the consensus that Buick missed the boat by not making the Regal a sport sedan. A luxury division needs one old person car and one young person car as its meat and potatoes, everything else is just a side dish. It's how Cadillac survived the last twenty model years. Regal was supposed to be the young guy car, but instead they'

    1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Looks like Nibbles snacked on the rest of oyur comment. But I'm with you, I really wanted to like the CTS-V wagon, but I came away liking the coupe way more. The wagon just was not 'wagony' enough for me. I mean the rear just did not seem all that practical for hauling around crap when I got a good look inside. It might not help that I spent some time back here right before seeing the Cadillac.
      <img src="; width="500">

      1. facelvega Avatar

        Oh, yeah, the last sentence or two of that post got cut. It was just that Buick had settled on three new sizes of old man car, and that it was funny how in the face of this the old, boring Lucerne has had the biggest growth in sales comparing this January to last year's, 62 percent up as is being reported all over the place.
        But what you say is exactly what I mean about the CTS wagon. The Holden Commodore wagon or Opel Insignia sports tourer (i.e. what could have been the Pontiac G8 wagon or could be the Buick Regal wagon) are just much cleaner designs, and both are a lot more useful as wagons. Here's the Opel:
        <img src="; width="600">

  5. topdeadcentre Avatar

    Sadly, to me the Regal GS looks like a happy little otter instead of an aggressive banker's hotrod…

  6. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    I sat in a Sonic 5-door yesterday. I would say it's a step-up from the last Aveo, but the front seats were just do spongy, I don't think I would like it much at all. It was almost as soft as memory foam. If you ever drove a previous gen Caravan ES with the cloth interior, you'll know what I mean.