Buick’s lineup will continue to expand in the coming year with two all-new models: the 250-horsepower (187 kW) Verano Turbo luxury sedan and the Encore luxury crossover.
Both Verano and Encore offer 10 standard air bags and body structures that consist of more than 60% high-strength steel. In the 2013 model year, each model also receives new active safety systems.
Unlike passive safety features, such as safety belts and air bags designed to protect occupants when a crash occurs, active safety systems use sounds, visual warnings and automated actions to help prevent crashes.
Later this summer, Verano will make standard a Rear Vision Camera on all models and an optional safety package that includes Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. These two technologies share a set of radar sensors hidden in the corners of the rear bumper that may help drivers avoid crashes when changing lanes or backing.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert senses cross traffic up to 65 feet away that may not be visible to the driver when backing out of a parking space or driveway. The driver is alerted with a red directional arrow displayed on the Rear Vision Camera screen and three directional beeps.
“We want to integrate our backing visual warnings onto that screen so drivers know where to look and can quickly see for themselves what’s causing the warning,” said Raymond Kiefer, General Motors active safety technical fellow. “That way, they can react quickly to what the camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors are detecting.”
Side Blind Zone Alert technology makes its way to the Verano from the larger LaCrosse luxury sedan and Enclave luxury crossover SUV. It cautions drivers when a vehicle is in a blind zone in an adjacent lane. According to sales data, it is among Buick’s most popular active safety features.
Encore, which arrives early in 2013, will offer the combination of Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. Both features use a single forward-looking camera sensor.
“Studies suggest that people can use changes in object size as they approach to estimate how long until they collide,” Kiefer said. “Buick’s single-camera detection system works much like a human eye, with state-of-the-art image processing equipment analyzing 10-12 scene images per second to decide if the changes in the size of a vehicle ahead suggest a crash may be just a few seconds away.”
Forward Collision Alert can be adjusted to near, medium and far timing settings. Although an “Off” setting is also provided, the majority of owners report they keep the system active.
At speeds above 25 mph, Forward Collision Alert gives audible and visual warnings when a collision may be imminent. Lane Departure Warning alerts drivers when they may have crossed a detected lane marker without using a turn indicator when driving at speeds over 35 mph. It, too, can be deactivated with the push of a button.
Like every current Buick, Encore will be offered with a Rear Vision Camera.
Enclave will debut this year with safety innovations of its own, including a front center air bag. Every Buick also comes standard with six months of an OnStar Directions and Connections plan, which includes Automatic Crash Response and roadside assistance.
Every 2012 Buick model is rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and every Buick model tested by the U.S. government’s New Car Assessment Program this year has received a Five Star Overall Vehicle Score.