When #VOTY09 was awarded, it went through the ringer with another close victory.
For the third straight year, it just seems that the #VOTY process got more interesting with winners decided on a mere fraction of a score. #VOTY07 was won by the Hyundai Sonata, as it squeaked out its award over the Toyota Prius and the Toyota Yaris. Then, the surprise #VOTY08 win by the Nissan Altima was achieved on the backs of the Hyundai Genesis sedan and the Mazda6.
#VOTY09 was no different. It actually came down to two candidates scoring within two points of each other. One was a car I thoroughly enjoyed my first drive in one; the other yielded a few complaints about it. Yet, I found it worthy of its position within the brand and company it represented. I knew this one was going to be another loopy session of justifications and whatnot, but I would say that the award is well deserved considering everything it represents.
In the end, #VOTY09 went to the then-new 2010 Buick LaCrosse.
As General Motors went through its bankruptcy proceedings, one had a sense of urgency for the new company that would emerge from it. GM protected Buick due to its growing Chinese market as the brand garnered a new cachet of consumers across the Pacific. On this side of the world, Buick needed to align itself with its newfound image abroad to bring the Doctor's Car into the 21st Century.
The result was an infusion of China's design with global elements ranging from Opel to Holden mixed with a small dollop of North American tradition. The result was a Buick sedan unlike any other before it on this continent: A Buick sedan with upward ambitions and global aspirations.
The Enclave crossover opened the door for the LaCrosse to leverage Buick’s new image. This will soon be followed up with the smaller Regal, the official North American variant of the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia (on GM's Epsilon II platform) also conceived in Shanghai (which won #VOTY11, by the way). The LaCrosse's position is to become the premium entry-level sedan for the 40-to-55-year-old professional not looking to jump over the moon into BMW/Mercedes-Benz/Jaguar/Cadillac/Lexus/Infiniti-land. Though, Buick stated that it wanted its LaCrosse to compete against the Lexus ES350…and win.
The Buick LaCrosse was a symbol of GM's commitment to recovery. It was a well-executed product for this purpose.
All photos by Randy Stern