Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Buick Is Now As Good As Lexus--Say What?

Admit it, the headline caught your attention. Admit it, you may have scoffed and said, "yeah right" sarcastically. Admit it, you never imagined Buick and Lexus would be considered "equals."

Well, back up your daddy's LeSabre and check out the latest vehicle dependability results from J.D. Power and Associates.For the first time in 12 years, another brand tied Lexus. Buick and Toyota's luxury line both average 145 problems per 100 vehicles. The top 5, as ranked by more than 53,000 original owners of 2004 models:

1. Buick/ Lexus (tie)
3. Cadillac
4. Mercury
5. Honda

So will this honor give Buick a much needed shot in the arm and translate into better sales?

In my opinion, I doubt it. Don't get me wrong, Buick and GM oughtta be proud of this honor. It's validation of their efforts in recent years to build a better car or suv are being recognized.

But as I pointed out in my blog last week, Buick is hurting. Sales are sliding, the limited line-up offers fewer choices for buyers, and Buick's marketing seems almost non-existent. One survey, even a prestigious one like J.D. Power's dependability study, is not enough to cure all those issues. Buick needs more models. Buick needs better marketing. Buick needs buzz!

Maybe I'll be wrong. Maybe GM can leverage these results and spur much needed sales. If that happens, I'll be the first to admit it.

Questions?  Comments?