When General Motors named the Chevrolet Nova, the majority of customers in America had no issues whatsoever with the spacey moniker. Spanish speaking countries were a different matter entirely, as the literal Spanish translation of "no va" is "no go." As the story goes, Chevy's Nova was less than successful south of Texas, although some analysts (armchair and otherwise) dismiss this historical naming issue as nonsense. Whether the Nova was an issue for GM or not, the automaker wasn't looking to tempt fate when the Buick LaCrosse began production in 2005. The French translation of "LaCrosse" is something along the lines of "self love" – not a flattering name for a family sedan. This being the case, the LaCrosse was renamed Allure in Canada and Buick buyers north of the border were free of ridicule and humiliation.
After careful consideration, GM has decided to ditch the Allure nameplate and instead leave the LaCrosse badging on the sedan's boot for the new 2010 model. GM Canada spokesman George Saratlic told the National Post that the decision was made to help streamline marketing costs. The feeling at GM is that Québécoise accept the name lacrosse in reference to the popular sport, so the benefits of having a consistent naming convention across North America far outweighs the negative stigma of the name.
Saratlic adds, "We do think that this will help customers learn more about the new Buick LaCrosse sedan thanks to the strengthened advertising push this will enable and that the car will have distinctly upscale characteristics that clearly define what it stands for in the market." Since we've poured precisely zero dollars into investigating the impact of the LaCrosse name in Canada, we'll take the company at its word. We would, however, suggest that Canadian LaCrosse drivers keep both hands on the wheel, at least for now.
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[Sources: National Post, Snopes]