updated 7/5/2005 2:46:44 PM ET 2005-07-05T18:46:44

Trying to keep pace with high-end competitors, General Motors Corp.'s Buick brand will increase its bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage to four years or 50,000 miles on all 2006 models, up from three years or 36,000 miles, the head of the division said.

GM planned to inform dealers of the enhancement Tuesday.

In addition to the expanded warranty, Buick will make the OnStar in-vehicle communications system standard on all models beginning in 2006 as well.

The new warranty will cover virtually everything except oil changes, Buick Division General Manager Steve Shannon said in an interview with The Associated Press. It also includes roadside assistance and courtesy transportation when vehicles have to remain in the shop overnight, he said.

"If you look at our premium competitors — Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, Lincoln — it's consistent with where they are," Shannon said. "These are some pretty significant steps to improve the perception of the brand and increase customer value."

Buick, the century-old brand known for producing reliable passenger cars, particularly for the older set, began reshaping its car portfolio in the past year by adding a new premium sedan, the 2005 LaCrosse, and eliminating two aging models, the Century and Regal.

At the Chicago Auto Show in February, Buick revealed another upscale sedan, the Lucerne, which is scheduled to reach showrooms this fall. The Lucerne will cover the same territory in the lineup as the outgoing LeSabre and Park Avenue. It will be Buick's first car to offer a V-8 engine in a decade.

Before Lucerne and LaCrosse, much of Buick's focus was on truck-like vehicles, namely the Rainier and Rendezvous sport utility vehicles and the Terraza crossover sports van, which debuted last fall.

The 2002 Rendezvous was Buick's first truck in 80 years.

As a brand, Buick fared very well in recent J.D. Power and Associates surveys rating initial quality and dependability after three years of ownership. Buick ranked fourth among all brands sold in the United States in both surveys.

Still, overall sales were down 8.4 percent for the first half of 2005, though Buick — like several other GM brands — had a robust June with total demand jumping 31 percent from June 2004, the company said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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