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Not Just Buick Limiteds


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A couple of years ago, I lamented the fact that my neighbor traded his Buick, he had been an exclusive Buick owner as long as I knew him, for a Toyota Avalon. I also stated that I had been working parttime during the Christmas season and every tree that I tied on an Avalon, I asked what the owner, usually a senior citizen, had owned previously. Buick was the answer numerous times.

One of the replies to my thread contained the statement that the Avalon was the best Buick that Buick never built Today I am driving down the highway and I come up on a new Avalon and there on the upper right hand corner of the trunk in gleaming chrome is the word "Limited". Was I really looking at a Buick?

According to Wikipedia, Buick used the word Limited from 1936 to 1942, in 1958, and various times through 2006. GM must have failed to register Limited as a trademark or it might have such common usage that it can't be trademarked. I just found it strange to see that word on an Avalon.

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"Limited" nowadays is more of a trim level, rather than a name...Avalon Limited, Ford Expedition Limited, Lexus 480 Limited. It isn't necessarily a different model, but a car, truck, SUV, with leather, fancy wheels, and a high end stereo.

Toyota et. al. wouldn't (and couldn't) call it a Roadmaster, although I have seen trailers and other roadborne implements called a Roadmaster. You are correct in assuming that Limited is too broad a word to trademark.

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I've noticed other possible-past Buick owners who are now driving Toyota Avalons. I'm not sure what they traded-in for them, though, just of the age demograhic.

I suspect it's got more to do with the much-lauded Toyota reliability and value retention, more than other factors. Even the last-gen Avalon could easily get into the low-$40K price range, including the "optional" Roadside Assistance (provided through the regional importer rather than the manufacturer itself!!!). Still, even the newer Avalons don't measure up to current or past Buicks in the area of interior materials and quality thereof--when I looked at them earlier this year at the Dallas new car show, I was shocked to see the vinyls and leathers they were using as they didn't come anywhere close to what's in a current or prior LaCrosse . . . or even a Lucerne or prior Park Avenue, much less a LeSabre or an Impala.

The current Avalon is a pretty nice car, but I what I saw was not what I expected to see, especially in consideration of the price class they are in. Therefore, I think the aura of Toyota is what brought those Avalon owners "into the fold" as Toyota customers. A key issue might be whether or not they buy another one in a few years. I"d be willing to bet that if they figured out what they spent on the Toyota in normal maintenance and fuel costs and depreciation, they'd find the amount they might have saved in depreciation would be compensated for by the additional maintenance Toyotas seem to need "by the book".

If they perceive that a more expensive Toyota (as they generally tend to be with respect to similar Buicks or Chevrolets) is a better car for the price they paid, so be it. If they can afford a $40K car, then they have lots of choices in how to spend all of that money, with all due respect. Not unlike some real estate investment informercials talking about buying a $40K house and then reselling it for $65K after minor repairs . . . the reason being that people want to brag about how much money they spent on their "new house", until somebody actually sees what they bought for that higher price. Be that as it may.

It might also depend upon some of GM's decisions to market vehicles with lots of bells and whistles and iPod ports to people who don't need, want, or know what they might be for . . . save OnSTAR. Perhaps if GM would break out all of those "technology" items into one separate option package rather than force people to purchase the base model Buick to get away from them?

As I suspect that many Buick owners want "the best one" rather than "the cheapest one", they end up getting things they don't need, but can't opt out of . . . unless they want to be now known for not buying "the best Buick". AND, many of these same buyers are of an age demographic where they remember when "floor shift" cars were "cheap cars" and "column shift" cars with bench seats were the higher-class cars. So THAT might be a reason to purchase an Avalon, if they still build a bench seat column shift car--remember how that "no column shift car" orientation helped kill Oldsmobile?

It might have been an assembly-related issue to offer the three-piece front seat for the prior LaCrosse and current Lucerne "non-console" cars, but why couldn't we have a traditional "split bench" front seat? Such a seat would impart a more spacious look to the interior, width-wise (something which now only seems to be available in Mercurys and Lincoln Town Cars) not unlike the prior Park Avenues of the 1980s. Seems like installing 8 bolts in the floor pan might save material and labor compared to 12? Something for a FUTURE BUICK?

Just some thoughts,


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