By on December 21, 2016
2016 Buick Encore
Electra. Wildcat. Grand National. Riviera. Buick has some storied names in its history. Unfortunately, as we wind down 2016, all of those nice names remain long gone, never to return.

In their place, throughout the decades, there have been some awful sedans, a truck-based item, even a minivan. We’ve also got some tasty crossovers which may or may not be propping up Opel’s failing product line across the ocean, and also appealing to and/or made in China.

So, let’s decide if the Encore is actually the worst offering Buick ever unleashed, all things considered. Shall we?

1980 Buick Skylark (wikimedia commons)
Our first awful nominee is the Skylark of the early 1980s.  Sister of the Citation, this little Malaise Crap Box was an affront to the Skylark name. But downsizing and efficiency were the games to play, and Buick had to be ready to go — miserable Iron Duke and all.

N-Body Skylark

Next up is the gorgeous, krill-seeking Skylark from about 10 years later. This new midsize sedan and coupe cribbed the styling from the Roadmaster, shrunk it 35 percent, and added a heaping helping of “sports appeal” by making it extra pointy. But hey, at least this N-body was incredibly slow. Its 2.4-liter eight-valve engine produced a shocking 120 horsepower, 40 hp less than the contemporary DOHC Quad 4 engine. By the end of this generation, however, it hosted the reliable 3.1-liter V6, and all was (relatively) fine.
buick_rainier
 This brings us all the way to near-modern times, and the Rainier model of 2004 through 2007. I happen to know that our own Chris Tonn currently runs the Rainier’s mechanically identical sister, the TrailBlazer. So, as I sat down with him virtually the other day, I gained some special insight into his experience with his ’06 4WD (now 2WD) model, which he’s owned since ’07 and driven for over 90,000 miles.
Regarding the Atlas inline-six engine:
“All of the fuel economy of a ’70s big block, with none of the power. 12 mpg in city driving. Around 14 on the highway. 12 mpg when towing a rusted-out racecar through West Virginia.”
Regarding reliability:
“Lunched a transfer case. Ignition switch is a wear item… we keep a spare in the glove box.”
And finally, serviceability:
“But at least the front suspension is strut based, so it’s a bitch to replace. Power steering hard lines sit in a trough over the strut tower, collecting rainwater, so the hard lines rust through. And they were the first things installed on the bare frame, so damned near everything has to come out to replace them when they rust through. Inner door panel popped off when the driver’s door shut — can’t get it to stay in place. Just a standard door shutting.”
I don’t think we’re quite finished yet, because we’ve not covered the two simultaneous offerings that sat alongside the Rainier in the showroom — the Terraza “luxury crossover sport van” and Rendezvous.
buick_terraza
2005 Buick Rendezvous

Just look at this pair. These were two U-body holdouts (hey, 1990!) that had quite a few flaws. However, their sibling was the love-it-or-hate-it Pontiac Aztek, which was arguably ahead of its time on the multi-purpose and car-based activity vehicle front, and has many fans today.So, I think my Worst Buick Ever award is still reserved for something which combines almost all the aforementioned qualities. The small stature and compromised styling of shrunken Buick models of yore. The rather ugly hatch form factor like those above. In an age of big horsepower figures, it lacks much power — just like the Malaise Skylark.  A little front-wheel drive hatchback that’s masquerading as something it’s not, for the sake of fashion over true utility, luxury, dignity, or driving pleasure. And under all the tinsel applied so liberally at its South Korean manufacturing facility, it’s still an Opel Mokka.

2017 Buick Encore
Here’s the brand new 2017 model, which continues Buick’s signature “crappy utility vehicle” scheme of reddish paint with grey cladding. Unless the B&B can point me to a more awful Buick model my brain missed, congratulations Encore — you win.
H/t to Tim Cain for today’s question idea.
[Images: General Motors; Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)]
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198 Comments on “QOTD: Is the Encore the Worst Buick Ever?...”


  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Nope. Monza-based Buick Skyhawk with the odd-fire V6.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I never experienced a mid-’90s Skylark, but a friend had a then-new Olds Achieva.

    There was nothing about that car that wasn’t absolute garbage. The engine was dim-witted, the handling was dangerous, the packaging was terrible (Camry-sized on the outside, Civic-sized on the inside), the interior was both ugly and poorly built, and the exterior started peeling 18 months after it left the production line. The car’s only saving grace was that GM was seemingly giving it away.

    The N-Body gets my vote as the worse car I’ve ever driven. My grandmother ran a 79 Malibu for a while, so that’s saying a lot.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I was going to put forth the Skyhawk as the worst, but changed my mind.

    Setting aside the Vega platform of the first gen or the Monza for the 2nd (equally hideous cars IMHO) they are both rear drive so I give them a pass.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    My vote would be J car Skywawk.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Wow, the snark is strong with this one. See folks, this is what happens when you raise kids in Toyota Camrys. I bet that the Encore/Mokka alone will outsell all of USDM Mazda in 2017. Everybody (allegedly) loves Mazdas, no one buys them. Everyone (allegedly) hates little Buicks, but you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. Say what you will, Buick marketing hit it out of the park with that car.

    I’ll play along.

    None of the cars pictured are even remotely half as bad as my candidate.

    A 1976 Le Sabre with the 4.1L V6. Truly a fuel economy special, a car you could use a sundial to measure acceleration. But, you have to be older than 12 to know what a real crap car is.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Hey, I know crap cars. I was raised in a Dodge Dynasty, followed by a Plymouth Grand Voyager from 1994 and a Grand Caravan Sport of 1999 vintage. All were garbage.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Garbage for what reason?

        Did they stall in traffic, potentially leaving you in dire circumstances?

        Did they handle like a drunken wet noodle?

        Believe me, cars of the 80’s and 90’s were paragons of reliability compared to the cars of the previous decades…

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          “Did they stall in traffic, potentially leaving you in dire circumstances?”

          Yes, the Dynasty experienced vapor lock several times in traffic.

          “Did they handle like a drunken wet noodle?”

          The vans did.

        • 0 avatar
          Carfan94

          @geozinger

          “Did they stall in traffic, potentially leaving you in dire circumstances?”

          Yes, As a matter of fact my moms 1996 Grand Caravan DID stall in traffic, leaving her in dire circumstances! TWICE, and this was when it was brand new. Funny you should ask.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s nothing. My parents routinely bought cars that ended up on those “worst car ever made” listicles. Their ’89 Voyager was a huge upgrade from the 1986 Renault Alliance it replaced. The Renault replaced a ’78 Aspen. They also had a yellow ’72 Gremlin.

        And well before I was born, they had a Simca. Which my dad traded in my mom’s Dodge Polara, which she had nicknamed “Sam”, for. If you bring it up, she’s still bitter, 40-something years later.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        I got suckered into buying a Caravan Sport new in 1996 when they first arrived. Based entirely on reading a bunch of reviews from automotive ‘journalists’ (read shills and carneys) who stated that it was the “mini-van for enthusiasts’.

        What a sham.

        Yet it still did most of what a mini-van is/was required to do. Just in a package that cost included a whole gamut of wasted, useless options.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The 4.1L didn’t even exist until 1980.

      And the CX-5 alone outsells the Encore.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Yup, you’re right about the 4.1.

        I was confusing my generations of B-bodies. Not bad for going entirely from memory.

        Hey look! A bright spot for Mazda!

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        ajla, the CX-5 competes more with the Equinox but doesn’t sell any more than the Terrain. Both of the later offer ~300 horsepower v6’s along with a 185 hp 4-cylinder.

        CX-5 doesn’t have sales threatening Trax problem.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I agree the Encore is far from being the worst Buick. The 1980 Skylark is a very strong contender mainly because of it’s lousy brakes and piss poor quality control.

      Regarding the 1976 LeSabre it had the odd firing 3.8 V6 with 105 HP to move around 4500 LBS of iron. I bet a 5.7 diesel would out run it.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      Parents had an 81 Electra Park Ave with that motor. So it was bigger and heavier than the Lesabre plus it had California Emissions. When we moved from California back to NJ the dealers could never get it to run right. My dad hates himself for getting that car.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Hitting Buicks… now dead cats have a useful purpose. If I find one, I’ll hit a Buick with it, and let you know how that goes.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      If you’re going to rag on a B-body Buick, let’s not fail to mention the head-bolt-snapping fun of the 4.3L and 5.7L diesels!

      Aside from a motor that has to work pretty hard for motivation, there’s not much wrong with the Encore. It wouldn’t be my first choice for interstate schlepping, but it’s a handy size for around-town duties.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Encore isn’t the worst Buick ever, it’s just weapons-grade dorky.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It seems quite a nice little car that’s just somewhat odd-looking.

      The “worst” title I’d have to give to the X-Body Skylark. I can’t really recall them directly, but I remember that the Citation my parents had for a few months was remarkable in that it made our Dodge Aspen look like a well-engineered machine.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Actually, the X-body Omega and Skylark were known to be much more reliable than the Citation and Phoenix. Not that they’re paragons of reliability, but I’ve actually seen a few Skylarks toodling around.

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        Yes, I drove one recently. It wasn’t bad, especially for its intended market. Older women. It isn’t intended to be great. It is intended to be competent and useful.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “The Encore isn’t the worst Buick ever, it’s just weapons-grade dorky”

      Superb description. But be careful. That dork has been hitting the Trifecta gym and can now pound all the jocks.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it kind of looks like a potato. And I like potatoes.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      “Dorky” is hardly the worst epithet aimed at a car. In fact, the word lacks any real criticism except that it doesn’t fit mainstream perceptions. And by mainstream, I mean the audience of this site in which many of its members probably have never bought a new car and most never owned a Buick.

      What’s really going on in this article and associated commentary is another dump on General Motors – which is a primary raison d’etre for TTAC. Lots of bad GM cars in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s will never fail to elicit the smarm of the B & B here. And the good cars today will inevitably fall short of a romanticized view of 60’s and earlier Buicks, Pontiacs and Cadillacs.

      Meanwhile, lots and lots of folks who have bought, leased or tested the Encore praise its inherent qualities: Good packaging, smooth ride for its wheelbase, quiet and reasonably frugal. I’m 107 miles into a close-out 2016 Encore and find its powertrain to be a little rougher than I’d like; but all its other virtues are present.

      It comes down to this: For the last 25 years, the average motorist has been seduced by the experts who said the only good cars are those that can be driven to the extreme, so you must buy a BMW or Mercedes. However, the thrill of the German sedan (with its temperamental build quality) has finally worn thin for many folks and we are back to driving cars that are just good enough for the task. BMW sedan sales are falling (along with most other sedans) and only their FWD CUV is in growth mode.

      Without sounding too nostalgic, I’ll bet that the ride height in my Encore is about the same as the ’56 Chevy my dad drove. After thirty years of Teutonic seduction, it turns out that all we really want is a practical vehicle. An Encore of what GM built 60 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “… many of its members probably have never bought a new car and most never owned a Buick.”

        Buick is my favorite car brand. I spent decent walking around money when I was 26(!) to buy a Lucerne. I’ve owned 6 Buicks in my life. I have an actual emotional attachment to the 3800 V6.

        I want to buy a new Buick, but I feel zero desire for a small sideways egg with a 1.4L engine that reminds someone of a Chevy.

        • 0 avatar
          alexndr333

          ajla,
          You get to be the exception that proves the rule. And also born 50 years too late for big Buicks. That post-World War II era is long past. I was a kid in part of it and enjoyed big American cars. But a Lucerne is a poor incarnation of the Electras and LeSabres of old, and we have moved on from the waste of 1950s planned obsolescence. Or at least most new car buyers have. Sorry if you’re still stuck.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        alexndr333, good deals on Encore at $10,000 off MSRP for nice price of $17K for the nicest, least expensive cuv around.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I don’t get the Encore-hate. It’s not a “real” Buick, but it’s OK for what it is. but I don’t hate it’s looks like some do. Heck, I even like that little Malaise Skylark, the styling’s help up better than I would have expected. Looks almost like a mini-Seville. Now the Terraza is dorky but…I kinda like it.

      OK, I’m weird.

      Edit: Just for fun I red C&D’s Terraza review. OK, it’s pretty bad.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    No way.

    The Encore is Buick’s saving grace. Sure, it’s not a “classic” Buick, but who cares? Sales are healthy, and the average age of a Buick buyer is down because they’re making something buyers actually want. If the Encore had serious mechanical or electrical faults, maybe there’d be a case, but it seems to be a pretty well-sorted platform. No FCA-style recalls for poorly-placed fuel tanks, no airbags that shoot shrapnel at you, no polluting diesel engine…it’s squeaky clean Cuteasaurus. Not MY cup of tea, but it clearly is for many.

  • avatar
    vadonkey

    Does TTAC actually pay someone to write this $h!t? I own an Encore and let me give you my take…and i’ll do it for free

    Is it better than a Park Ave? No, not even close
    Is it better than an 80’s Skylark? Any day of the week

    Scale of 1-10 for the important (to me) items
    Power- 4 (yeah, its weak)
    Front seat room- 9 (i’m 6’3″ and I can’t move the seat all the way back)
    Ride- 7 (short wheelbase makes for a choppy ride sometimes)
    Noise-8 (the quiet tuning works for the most part)
    Gas mileage-8 (I average 30+ mpg)
    Cargo room-5 (it’s a small car, so it is what it is)
    Looks-6 (subjective, I think its OK)
    Reliability-9 (other than a couple trim issues, no problems at 33K miles)

    These numbers are subjective….My wife disagrees with everything I gave below a 7 LOL…but it is her car so if she’s happy, i’m happy

    The author of this bit must be too young to remember the garbage that was called Buick in the 80’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “The author of this bit must be too young to remember the garbage that was called Buick in the 80’s.”

      THIS.

      Youngsters THINK they know the past, but without experiencing it, they have no clue.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I will revise the rating based on my Encore rental experience:

      Power- 2, insert poop emoji here
      Front seat room- 7, whatever
      Ride- 4, short wheelbase makes for a choppy ride always
      Noise- 7, it’s fine
      Gas mileage – 5, 31 MPG is bad for a vehicle with a lawnmower engine and can fit in the bed of a Silverado
      Cargo room- 3, that trunk/hatch is a joke
      Looks- -4, derptastic
      Reliability – no idea

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      It is worth noting, as Tim Cain suggested the question, Tim Cain’s observation in a story published today in the best and worst cars he drove this year.

      He universally put every sub-compact CUV in his driveway at the worst. The Honda, the Fiat, and he asked the question of the Buick.

      Although a sub-compact is not my cup of tea, and I have admittedly only sat in a non-moving, non-running Encore, the hate of the class is strong with this one. I would argue there is a bit of bias out of the gate, given the revelation of Tim’s article today.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      +1 vadonkey! Journalist be damn.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You can’t really directly compare anything from two different eras.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Huh? I thought the Encore was a sales success for Buick? The market has spoken and no one other than car journalists disconnected from reality find it terrible.

    The car press and enthusiasts are a strange bunch. In their world the Encore is a failure but the Mazda 6 is the best mid-size sedan. According to GCBC, so far the Encore sold 70,810 units in 2016. The Mazda 6 on the other hand… 40,832 units.

    Success lies in sales and in that regard the Encore is an excellent vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s “beat up on compact crossovers month” at TTAC.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        I sure experienced it. Grew up during the 70’s and 80’s as a rabid car fan and was always interested in what owners thought of there vehicles including neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers. This younger generation doesn’t have a clue what we went through with those old 60’s on up cars. Vehicles didn’t really start becoming long term reliable until the 90’s with wide spread use of fuel injection and far better assembly techniques including rust proofing. I vividly remember our neighbor down three houses from ours that loved Subaru’s. That was during the 80’s. After about 3-4 Winters they literally needed to pound off those wheels with a massive sledge hammer. The Boxer also developed the proverbial lifter rattle and head gasket leaks shortly after. Ah the good old days

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I hate to sound like the “get off my lawn” guy, but you’re 100% correct.

          I would gladly take that 1990’s Skylark over a 1960’s or 1970’s version for a daily driver.

          That 1990’s Skylark will outperform the older cars in every possible way, with the exception of the GS models, but they only would win on acceleration. And styling.

          One cannot overstate the improvement in materials and equipment that have occurred since the 1980’s alone!

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      So by your logic, all Mazdas are awful because nobody buys them?

      Don’t equate goodness with sales success.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Hey man, the Chevy Citation was clearly a fantastic car, because it was the 1980 US best seller. For that matter, personal luxury coupes were obviously brilliant as well, because people bought them in droves. But they’re rubbish now, because people don’t buy them anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I think that the premise of kicking the Encore is that it doesn’t align with the Buick quasi-luxury brand placement. Chevrolet made the Trax and it doesn’t seem out of line since getting a cheap Chevy is perfectly acceptable. This gives me the impression that GM is providing cheap entry to a higher-rung product class and selling the Buick brand short. There’s no equivalent Cadillac product not because someone wouldn’t buy it (in fact, they’d probably sell a ton of them), but because they don’t want to whore out the brand to sell cheap runabouts.
      Of course as many have pointed out, this isn’t the first cut-rate Buick, but since Pontiac and Saturn got the axe the notion was that Buick was supposed to be headed upmarket; when you sell a FWD baby-SUV with the pretensions that it’s somehow sporty and rugged but in reality is neither, it is viewed as going against the upmarket push.
      It’s not being criticized for failing to sell, it is being criticized for trying to be something it’s not.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Sure, that Encore must be the worst Buick ever – that’s why they sell so many of them!

    The X cars ARE near the worst, but the minivans have to be at the top, not just for Buick, but for GM as a whole.

    FWIW, our daughter has a 2007 Trailblazer, and she has not had the problems referred to in the article. Chris probably runs his into the ground, treating it like dirt, hence his issues. Typical for young guys ruining their rides.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The U-Body vans really do stink, that’s true. They aren’t bad in the way that the Skylark was, but they are, by a hair over the Ford Windstar, the worst of their contemporaries.

      Chrysler’s vans may have been mechanically suspect, but they were exceedingly well-packaged (Ford’s were a little worse). Conversely, the Previa, Oddy and MPV were reliable, if oddly packaged. The U-Bodies combined poor interior packaging on par with the Japanese vans with the durability of the Americans.

      When the Sienna and second-gen Oddy showed up, the U-Bodies’ faults became even more apparent.

      I own one, and having had a Sienna previously and been in a few Chryslers, it’s astounding how GM flubbed it: the floor is very high, the seats heavy and difficult to remove, and the cargo space quite small.

      But it isn’t the worst Buick, just the worst minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I agree on all your U-body statements. I’ve had extensive time with a Terraza, and it’s just terrible. It’s large and ponderous in the handling department, is slow yet uses lots of fuel, has an awful transmission, and manages to be very small and space inefficient on the inside. I don’t think it can manage 20mpg highway.

        And since new, the lights on the interior have flickered when you have the doors open.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        I owned 4 Dodge mini-vans and 4 GM minivans. The final generation Pontiac (Montana) SV6 was my favourite of them all.

        Used it to commute along one of the most treacherous highway areas in all Ontario. 2.5 hours each way on a good day.

        The SV6 never let me down. Averaged over 25 mpg. Always felt safe in it and never white knuckling, even when the OPP were shutting down the road.

        Had more than enough room for hockey tournament weekend trips with 2 adults, 2 players and equipment and luggage.

        Had a nice solid ride, did not drift when crosswinds ripped across the highway. The front end was heavy and it did need its struts replaced. But that was the only non-maintenance repair performed.

        It is now 10 years old and used by my employer as our maintenance van and still performs with no fuss or bother.

        Personally I just cannot understand the hate for them.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I really don’t understand the hate for the U-bodies, either. In my neck of the woods they are the Cockroach of the Road (TM) for a certain working class demographic.

          I have hobbies that require a large vehicle (mountain bikes and kayaks) not to mention the pure hauling capabilities a minivan can provide. I chose a U-body mostly due to familiarity but haven’t been disappointed with it.

          • 0 avatar
            Zackman

            Geo, until I saw the ™, I thought you owed yourself a beer!

            As for the GM vans, I know people who owned them, and while they couldn’t stand much of a chance next to the Chrysler minivans as to ergonomics, they got the job done, even though I don’t think I would have owned one, but I have never owned a minivan, but wish I did in earlier times when we could have really used one.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I guess techincally, I do owe myself a beer! It’s a good thing I have a stash at home…

            When I was looking for my van last year, I was looking for a Chrysler mini. The Silhouette popped up on a local used car lot seemed well maintained for a very good price. Since I’m already familiar with the hardware, I couldn’t pass it up.

            My wife, for some reason, dislikes minivans. This is my toy-hauler, I cram my mountain bikes in there and all of my soccer stuff. Even today, she will not drive the thing!

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “I really don’t understand the hate for the U-bodies”

            They drive and ride worse and carry less stuff while not being any smaller. I had a ’06 Sienna and now have an ’06 Montana. The Sienna, aside from mild glitchiness in the doors, was much, much nicer in just about every way.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’m happy you felt safe, but you weren’t. They were some of the least safe cars of their era, with a tendency for the unibody to fold around the driver and front seat passenger in any frontal crash that wasn’t exactly head-on.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @dal: Since it was a 2006 model it was relatively safe. Some redesign and a big, ugly ‘pig’ nose. Believe that they were originally designed to be available as AWD models but the General killed that idea after the redesign.

            As for the previous generation, agree they had issues with safety. Also with their A/C crapping out early and with their rear sliding door being misaligned and the dealers being unable to properly correct that issue.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Having owned one U-body as a primary, and then two orphans as cheap beaters – yup they are generally awful. The 1998 Pontiac Transport Montana that we bought in borderline panic in Houston was just an awful, awful, awful, awful vehicle. It is a coin toss on which was worse, our ’93 Subbie – they certainly were in competition for which could spend the most time at the dealer.

        The second generation (if you can call them that) at least were mechanically reliable (the 3.5 and 3.9 were boat anchor engines but boat anchor reliable as was the ancient 4-speed they were mated too). The second gen (2005+) got a good rating from the IIHS in the offset crash tests, a huge advanced from the (96-04) death traps – and they were death traps.

        They certainly don’t share the disastrous problems of the Ford minivans, the failed transmissions in the Hondas of the same era, or the rust issues of the Sienna of the same era (in snowbelt states). It is pretty amazing how many of these roaches I see rolling around still – especially considering compared to say Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth, GM didn’t sell a whole lot of them (relatively speaking).

        And on those Honda transmissions, yes if you pull a trailer with any minivan you’re likely going to grenade the transmission as those car based shifters just weren’t made to haul around 4K pounds of van, 3K pounds of trailer, and 1.5K of mammals and their crap. The Honda 5-speed to the V6 was its own special kind of suck, revolving around a “when” it will fail. It was so horrible that GM had the ingenuity to cut a deal with Honda and put them in the Saturn VUE Redline with the same results.

        The GM quads, they were just…awful. More reliable than I think people give them credit for (Gen II, the 3.4 + Dexcool late 90s offerings with self-destructing manifold gaskets were a horror) but just poorly designed and implemented.

        For a cheap winter beater or runabout second car – they’re actually a pretty solid find (which is why I gravitate to them). No one wants them so they are dirt cheap, you really don’t care about tossing 30 bags of wet mulch in the back (my record is 43 with the third row removed – I though the rear suspension was going to fail but it did it), get bumped by shopping carts (who cares), bumpers (who cares) and actually, they are damn good in 2WD configuration in the snow. The downside is they are so feckin’ hard to work on that things like oil leaks become deferred maintenance until the deferred maintenance list becomes too long. Hello, CL, goodbye van.

        So I come not to praise Caesar, but bury him, for GM was ambitious, and the sin of the U-Body is the stain of their ambition. Here, in the bankruptcy tunic, see where the Saturn Relay ran through…

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “or the rust issues of the Sienna of the same era (in snowbelt states)”

          Hmm the first I’ve heard of this, got more info? is it a subframe kind of thing? The bodies on them are proving quite resilient, 15 years on. Some cases of sludge on poorly maintained examples, and inevitable transmission issues that afflict literally every transverse minivan (some worse than others like 1g Odyseey, Windstar, Caravan).

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            The spare tire carriers have a tendency to rust out, and drop the spare tire – which is located under the vehicles so that’s a problem.

            There are also a lot of documented issues with the power sliding doors from 04-05 in particular, but not part of the recall on the 11-16 models, which can have the doors open on their own.

            Ironically, as I understand it, the power sliding door mechanism on the Sienna is/was licensed from GM. The power sliding doors on the U-bodies were a feckin’ hot mess.

            With all that said, if I was buying a used minivan today as my primary (and not a beater) my choices would be Toyota, Toyota, Toyota, or…Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Spare tire thing sounds annoying but certainly not structural. Looking around, it looks like the Siennas use a similar cable/winch type system to my 4Runner. So it’s not like something rots off of the body, sounds like the cable just rusts. Even more interesting, that this is for the 2nd gen ’04-’10 vans. A pretty simple fix.

            In terms of actual body/structural rust resistance, I’d say the Siennas are on top of the van game. 98-04 Odysseys will start to get rear quarter cancer that grows pretty slowly, I think I’ve even seen an early 3rd gen Odyssey (05′-’10) with a hint of that rear wheelarch rust where the rear bumper cover mounts. I can’t say I’ve ever seen rust on a gen 2 sienna, or even a gen 1 sienna now that I think about it. It’s hard to find a gen 1 U-body with anything remaining of their rocker panels (smartly went to plastic rocker covers for 05+), mid 2000s Caravans have rotten doors and hatches, Freestars are a complete unsafe mess when it comes to actual structural rust issues. FWD Mazda MPVs rust horribly as well. I must say, I can’t recall seeing many/any 2nd gen u-bodies with any sort of visible rust on the body, so kudos to them on that.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    The only people whose opinions count are of course the actual buyers.

    I think there’s a definite Buick-aura weighing in when oldsters buy these. I know it’s true locally and I’d bet more generally that every elderly Encore buyer has long known several people at the dealership from decades of past Buick purchases and service.

    That pleasant middle-class, generational cocoon still cossets an Encore buying experience. And of course its ergonomics are just what the gerontologist ordered.

    Besides, while I adore Encores I must add that they could have *Fiat* build quality and still be adequate to a retiree’s driving needs.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    My wife and I sat in an Encore and a Trax back to back at the Chicago auto show in 2015. I couldn’t figure out why anybody would pay more money for the Encore when it felt no better than the Trax. Also, I couldn’t figure out why anybody would pay more than $10k for the Trax. It was awful.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    A bad car is one that disappoints owners because it is promoted for values it does not possess. By that metric, the Encore is not bad. It’s reliable, small, tall and nice inside – exactly what buyers expect.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Yes, at least the worst of modern times.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    At least with the Rainier you could get a V8 that was not available on the TrailBlazer.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    You’re not wrong about anything here. However, the new Encore is still totally cute. Cute in the way that a 23 year old metrosexual without ANY experience with cars would look at the Encore.

    Other than that consideration… no way. Not in a million years.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Of course it’s not the worst Buick ever, not even close. There are many other good candidates listed above.

    But I’ll offer this: Compared to those nostalgic ‘storied’ names (Electra, Wildcat, Grand National, Riviera), the Encore is a better vehicle to own than any of them. It’s just not as cool.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I wish the Encore was cheaper and a bit wider – it could be my “don’t have to squat getting in-and-out; my next ride will be a hearse anyway” vehicle…

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    What is it with GMT360s and lunching their t-cases? Between personal anecdotal evidence (a former coworker with an early build Trailblazer), and now our own Chris Tonn and what I’ve seen online, seems like a very widespread issue. Everything from S-10s up to Suburbans are not immune, however. Just had a coworker with a GMT800 ‘burb with about 120k miles replace his t-case with a reman unit. Apparently the viscous coupling failed, and with his wife driving truck in Auto-4wd mode on pavement, the rest of the t-case followed (chain started to slip).

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Hmm, do they whine as they age? I’ve had the fluids changed but I think mine’s a little bit whiny.

      Chris Tonn is a young whippersnapper who abuses his rides, obviously.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I think some gear/chain whine is probably par for the course. On the GMT360s, people were blaming the torque shock in “Auto” mode as the culprit for busting the under-spec’d t-case. Apparently the older “auto 4wd” computers can’t engage the viscous coupling as smoothly as modern systems. My understanding is that the t-case on the Trailblazer was strengthened after the first few years.

        On some of the other GMs, the fault is placed on the t-case encoder motor, a likewise under-spec’d piece for the task at hand (I’ve been told that it was borrowed from an HVAC-heater control system, may or not be true).

        This is where the old primitive part-time manual floor shift systems all of a sudden sound quite appealing.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          I’ve had an occasional fault with my auto 4WD panel as well, which is a common occurrence apparently – TSB for it. It’s the module not receiving the “wake up” call from the computer as you turn it on, so it defaults to the red N light, which is 2WD and it can’t be changed.

          I fixed this for 90% of the time by turning the key faster. If you do it slowly, you’re more likely to end up with an asleep module.

          And mine has so many miles on it the whine doesn’t surprise me, ha. The engine is really quite smooth and idles perfectly though.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    A gal at the office has an Encore, and she doesn’t like the auto start/stop feature. I tried to disable it for her by unplugging the hood latch sensor, it worked for a day, but the next day the dash display began flashing.

    The spare donut tire has a subwoofer that mounts to the hold-down screw, that is something I’ve not seen before.

    The Encore is assembled in Korea, and it also comes as a Chevy Trax with less accessories.

    I did drive it a little bit, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. US News ranks it #2 in subcompact SUVs., tied with Honda HR-V.

    • 0 avatar

      You can fit what US News knows about cars inside an Encore.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The donut spare holds the noise cancellation speaker.

      Sometimes the authors here would have a difficult time filling Encore’s upper glove box….

      • 0 avatar
        DIYer

        The 2016 owner’s manual refers to the unit as a subwoofer:

        To access the spare tire and tools:

        1. Open the liftgate.
        2. Lift the trim cover.
        3. If the vehicle has a subwoofer assembly on top of the spare tire, remove it by turning the center retainer counterclockwise.
        4. If the vehicle does not have a subwoofer, turn the retainer counter clockwise to remove the spare tire.
        5. Remove the spare tire, jack,and tools and place them near the tire being changed.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          DIY, white noise box as it is lightweight and nothing come about it to the naked ear.

          http://buickforums.com/forums/threads/32365-Encore-Bose-Active-Noise-Canceling-System

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Norm, that’s the subwoofer. it may be used for ANC but that’s not its primary purpose.

        “The spare donut tire has a subwoofer that mounts to the hold-down screw, that is something I’ve not seen before.”

        Pretty common for Bose, actually. This setup is used by GM, Audi, Nissan, and others.

  • avatar

    the Chinese made Envision takes the cake. Stop the Invasion, Boycott Envision!

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Other than being Made in China, what exactly is wrong with it?

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        That is exactly the problem many folks have. GM is charging heavily for an American vehicle that people will *assume* is built in the US. 40k+ for a Chinese made Buick? Not for me.

        How does that differ from charging 30k for a small Korean made Encore? I don’t know, but I personally have an aversion to Chinese made things IF I can avoid them. I can avoid Chinese made tires, I can avoid Chinese made Buicks. Many of us know how the VIN indicates where it was made. I won’t buy a vehicle made in China if I can avoid it.

        • 0 avatar
          Jimal

          So beyond it being assembled in China, there is nothing wrong with it?

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            Jimal, I don’t know if it’s good or bad because I don’t care about it. Not in the market for one of those vehicles no matter where it’s made.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Anti GM-China as he types away on his Chinese electronic device.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Buickman is threatened by the fact that Buick is a Chinese brand that just happens to sell some volume in the US to the wives of GMC truck buyers.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            Well, it was a Dell branded keyboard, probably made in China. Viewed through an Acer monitor, probably made in Taiwan. With a Dell desktop, assembled in the USA with foreign components.

            My point was, by doing a bit of research you can avoid Chinese made items if you want to. With some things, like electronics, it’s damn near impossible to buy something made in the US (or Canada even)that isn’t a speciality product. If two items are on a store shelf and one say Made in the USA( or at least assembled) and the other Made in China, I’ll buy the former.

            Same thing with cars and VIN numbers.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “In an age of big horsepower figures, it lacks much power — just like the Malaise Skylark.”

    Anyone who says this needs to spend some time in an Iron Duke-powered Camaro or Firebird. Preferably with auto trans and air conditioning. 20 second 0-60 times will show you what “slow” really was.

    actually, an Iron Duke-powered anything.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Try a first gen Honda Accord with Hondamatic going up a hill. Then turn on the air. Then get out and walk faster.

      Actually, back in the day, there were so many slow cars that even an Iron Duke powered Camaro did seem like a rocketship…

      Just kidding. But not by much.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I can say the same for my old 1996 4 cyl. stick Ford Ranger XLT. Standard cab, short bed. Turn on the AC and watch the world pass by you!

        Great little truck, but slow. The V6 was better, but a real gas-hog.

  • avatar
    krohde

    Please, the Encore isn’t bad, like others have stated above. It can’t even be the worst Buick made today, which is that awful Cascada convertible. 4 year old Opels do not a new Chrysler Sebring make.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I think the big qualm with the Encore is that it simply does not look like a “proper” Buick: ie large and with some presence. it just looks like a dolled up version of a generic Korean tall subcompact hatch thingy. But I think it meets the needs of the target audience well enough that I wouldn’t banish it to “worst ever” status.

    Also:

    T R I F E C T A

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I don’t get why the Encore is so “bad”. Its not a car guy’s choice? Lol, not many Buicks or CUVs are.

    The Terraza was bad for specific reasons. The quality/reliability. The packaging. The inflated price when new. The fact that so many other choices out there were many times better in virtually every way.

    The Encore isn’t like that. It competes well, it isn’t particularly unreliable or poorly made, it isn’t packaged horribly for what it is.
    If you are of the opinion that ALL CUVs are poorly packaged, and subcompact ones are the worst, that’s fine, but that’s the segment this vehicle is in, and it isn’t worse than its rivals. In fact, it’s better than them in many ways.

    I don’t get the “I hate small CUVs so this is the worst Buick” rationale. The Encore is what it is, and its shortcomings are no different than any other vehicle its size and in its class. Hating a particular type of car and then singling out one example that type to trot out and stomp on makes no sense phrased like this. The title should be “Is the subcompact CUV the worst vehicle ever?” because that was the only point served by the conclusion.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      There always seems to be a “it’s not a car I like so it must be awful or ridiculous” attitude on this website. I’ve sat in Encores several times at the auto show and I actually liked it. Is it oddly proportioned? A little. Did I find it slightly too narrow for me or the cargo area too small for my camping gear? Yes. But I wouldn’t knock anyone for buying one. A friend of mine and his partner in DC love theirs. It’s great for city parking.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Agreed, N8iveVA. I’ve done the “sit behind myself” test in the Encore at an auto show, and I came away with the same impression. The Encore is one of the very few offerings today that combines a truly small footprint with a cabin that wouldn’t cramp four of me (at 5’10”). If I lived in DC proper (or Boston, NY, San Francisco, Chicago, and so forth) and carried a 3rd or 4th passenger with any regularity, the Encore is one of the first vehicles I’d shop.

        I’ve actually gotten a bit of schadenfreude out of the Encore’s success, as it’s a vehicle TTAC ripped even before they’d tried it. Alex Dykes seems to be the one TTAC contributor to show any objectivity about it, and he has left the building.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      John, I saw this yesterday after the Tempo discussion and thought of you:

      http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/5906127190.html

      I gotta say, I love it. The color could not be more perfect.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    This reads like a vintage Baruth GM hatchet job, dredging up examples from 40 years ago to support a bogus case that the current products are junk. The Encore is not my cup of java in any way and I think it looks funny, but people love them and GM is selling a lot of them. C’mon, TTAC, grow up. You’re better than this, or at least, should be.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      My feels. :\'(

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Click bait. And I fell for it.

      Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It’s a QOTD post that is meant to get people to participate. And…you did. Corey doesn’t like the Encore, but, for some ridiculous reason, he owns some older GM products. If you think there are worse Buicks (I think there are) than let him know.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Corey hates GM so much that he owns a Tahoe and bought a Cadillac.

      I think some of you guys are being a little hard on the author considering this is just a open-thread “Question of the Day” post.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Bashing GM is what TTAC and Curbside classics do best, especially with the 70-‘s through 90’s products.

      Maybe they need to look no further than these two sites for poor unreliable performance with frequent crashes, locks ups, awe snap messages from Chrome and “this site is slowing down your browser’s performance” messages from Firefox. And it’s happening on both Macs and Windows 7/10 computer’s so it’s not me. No other website is giving me these issues.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    This has to be one of the worst TTAC pieces ever….

    Why do you hate the Encore?

    I wouldn’t buy one, BUT I predicted it would be a hit, and it is. People sit high, it’s somewhat versatile, it’s easy to drive, and it’s good on gas.

    While Buick today is good (though not as good as GM contends–this ain’t no Audi!), it was a lame brand from the 70s until the Buick Enclave, with a few decent cars sprinkled in.

    And one of the ABSOLUTELY WORST CARS ever made was the 1995 Buick Skylark–it drove as badly as it looked.

    Perhaps it was deliberate, to make the Grand Am and Olds (under)Achieva look like decent cars.

    I think you people are jealous that the Encore hearkens back to the original Toyota RAV4, and neither Toyota nor Honda have such a vehicle now…

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “Encore hearkens back to the original Toyota RAV4”

      It absolutely in no way does not.

      • 0 avatar
        RedRocket

        The original RAV4 rivaled the Suzuki X90 for maximum CUV hideousness, so I would suggest to you that you are wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          The original Rav4 had close to 9 inches of ground clearance, a true 50/50 fulltime AWD system, and an optional limited slip rear diff that made it a veritable mountain goat. It had great visibility, and the rear row of seats was fully removable to create a surprising amount of room (ala PT Cruiser).

          In other words, they were really neat and utilitarian little rigs that have nothing to do with this Korean chrome slathered egg shaped thing.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      The 1980 Skylark was far worse than any 1992-1998 Skylark. The 90’s versions had fuel injection, much more agreeable and powerful engines, greater safety and far superior brakes. That plus they were never subject to all the recalls and huge safety issues that those 1980’s X cars did.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    My in-laws have an Encore on lease and they’ll probably get another because my mother in law likes it.

    They’ve had multiple Buicks in the 17 years I’ve known them. ’92 Century wagon with woodgrain? Check. Beige ’98 Lesabre? Check. Maroon ’03 Lesabre? Lucerne x 2? Only one Crown Vic and the only reason the FIL didn’t get another is because their driveway is steep and even with snows, the Crown Vic didn’t do so well.

    The Encore sells because of people like my mother in law. It’s small, certainly smaller than the Lesabre she drove for 10 years. She likes that a lot. It sits up high, which makes it easier for older folks to see out of and get in and out of. Yes, it has giant blindspots like every other vehicle today, but it has a camera for that.

    For once, my FIL didn’t get the basic car and the little Encore isn’t lacking the little things that Boomer Buick Buyers like. The 1.4T is a bit pokey saddled with the AWD system and the car isn’t as solid as my Cruze is. But my mother in law, who only generally cares if she turns the key and it starts, likes her car.

    The lease is ending very soon, they’ve been out shopping. When they leased two years ago, Encore was the only mini-crossover really available. Now, the lease deals aren’t as good for the most part and there’s the HR-V, CX-3,etc. available. The FIL has been trying to steer her towards a Forester or RAV4, but those are “much too big” now, even though they are smaller than anything she drove for most of the time I’ve known her.

    People buying Encores are generally not shopping Mazdas. And vice-versa. As for the Trax, I sat in one in the Chevy dealer while my Cruze was having service done and it felt(and looked) much cheaper than the Buick.

    The Encore is the road-going equivalent of a Rascal scooter. It offers easier mobility to older people. Buick might not have expected the aging middle-class boomers to take to them, but they have. Not unlike the “hip” Scion Xb.

    So is it the worst? To a traditional Park Avenue buyer, then maybe. And since Buick offers nothing like a Park Ave or Lesabre, they don’t want those buyers either. Well, GM marketing doesn’t want them, I’m sure the dealers do. But since TTAC has the “sedan deathwatch” going on, maybe a new Lucrene/Lesabre/P Ave wouldn’t sell in the cross-over crazy market.

    To your average car buyer? Probably not, especially if they remember the junk GM peddled in the 80’s. My inlaws car hasn’t made an appearance at the dealer for anything other than scheduled maintenance. Maybe not a typical Buick, but not the worst.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      That’s some good perspective, gearhead. I always viewed the Encore as an ideal empty nester or elderly runabout. The higher seating position and tidy dimensions are a boon for much of that demographic, and they put enough shine on it to make it look like a vehicle someone chose to spend their money on rather than one where they couldn’t afford anything else (Trax).

      Got to be easier to park than a Crown Vic.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        In Pittsburgh, largely aging pensioners and mostly blue-collar, middle class, I see a fair amount of Encores and Trax. Mainly driven by those north of 50, most of them well north of 50. The Scion Xb was the same way here. Most of them driven by folks over 50.

  • avatar
    ajla

    YOU HAVE RUINED TTAC COREY!!!

    CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION!!!

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    I’d have a hard time believing any Buick could be worse than my ’83 Century with 3.0 V6. Come to think of it, any 80s-era 6 cylinder Buick was probably infinitely worse than the Encore

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      That 3.0 engine was a turd, worse than the 2.8 in the other A-bodies, but the A-bodies really weren’t that bad by early ’80s standards. They were a quantum leap over the X-bodies that preceded them.

      Of course, when GM was still selling A-bodies in the late ’90s, they didn’t look nearly as good.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Can’t believe you made a “worst Buick” piece and didn’t include any of the following:

    – The aforementioned first-gen Skyhawk (aka Monza)
    – The showroom-rusted ’75-’79 Apollo/Skylark
    – Any J-body Skyhawk (did you leave it off because of the hidden headlights??)

    Although I think you did nail the winner — the X-body Skylark.

    By comparison with any of these, the Encore is a quiet and reliable luxury car. You’ve succumbed to mindless CUV hate.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      the J bodies weren’t terrible so long as you didn’t have that Brazilian head gasket eater underhood.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        They were reliable-ish, but they were still terrible, even by standards of the time. Just awful cars to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think this is the angle that Geozinger misses with defending some of these 90s GM products. He is 100% correct that they can cling to life better than just about anything and wallow in neglect and missed oil changes. But they are objectively poor cars in the sense of ergonomics, packaging, NVH, interior materials.

          I’d say a similar buying demographics for beat up GM A/J/N/U bodies exists in Russia that faithfully keeps buying Ladas. They’re cheap to buy and cheap and easy to service, and will generally start every morning in the cold. But the interiors are a rattling, falling-apart mess and there’s always something to tinker with if you want everything to be “100%.” Classic Russian-blue collar cars. Although to be fair a J-body is overall a better put together, more rust resistant, and more reliable vehicle than any Lada can hope to be.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I think I’d take the Lada over the J-body on the sort of Russian roads I know from dashcam videos (and only from videos, having never been anywhere in Russia except Moscow and Peterburg).

            Although it’s hilarious watching them lose grip at the slowest speeds imaginable on what must be threadbare decade-old tires.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The Russian cars have oodles of ground clearance and really soft, long travel suspensions that are hard to bottom out. But as far as actual suspension durability I’d say they are fairly mediocre, let down mostly by cheap component quality. I have a few friends and relatives there that are either currently cabbies, or have been in the past. One managed to keep a mid 90s 2105 (rwd, Fiat based) alive for about 16 years before it simply became impossible to weld/re-weld rotten suspension mounting points. He’s retired now, and upgraded to a fuel injected 2107 (lux version of the 2105 with a tall chrome grille). The other guy who’s still in the biz drives a 2107 as his everyday short-run cab in Biysk, and an ’05 Camry as his long-haul cab to Novosibirsk and such. The 2107 gets a full front end rebuild every spring (ball joints, tie rod ends, control arm bushings), thankfully a full rebuild kit is about 5000 rubles ($80 or so). The FWD Ladas I’d imagine are the same way. Most cabbies who could swing it switched to generic Japanese compacts (Toyota Carina/Corona/Corolla/Sprinter, Nissan Sunny/Sylphy) or something like a Renault Logan.

            The mid 90s Volgas (31029) still used old school king pin front ends and leaf springs, as long as you keep everything lubed up they are reputed to be quite durable (but everything else will fail or fall apart).

            Biysk roads are “curiously” well documented on youtube (by unhappy citizens):
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhXHc9EV7xU

            The song in the background is a parody with lyrics along the lines of “fix the roads for the bros, at least fill the potholes” and lays the blame on corrupt politicians who steal funds.

            Look at the new E-class (@:40) at a total loss at how to work his way through the ‘minefield’ of downtown Biysk:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYPL32zJ0QY

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYPL32zJ0QY”

            I love how the buses just hop the curb to straddle that rut.

            What’s Russian for “meh..”?

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            at :55 you can see a guy rush up on the right side in a well worn Lada 2106 (quad headlight model), he’s clearly got no time for imports dilly-dallying around some potholes.

            The guy with the lifted Toyota Fortuner at the end has the right idea. A BOF SUV on beefy tires is really the most practical vehicle you can have out there, if you can afford it.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Last generation lesabre. My mother has one. Its a huge p o garbage. That car wont make it 80k. Gm cost cut that last generation to heck. It steers by rubber band, the brakes pedal is wooden, the extra short seats feel and wear like a bedsheet over styrofoam, electrical gremlins abound. Battery under the back seat cushion. On and on. Just a terrible car. My folks and myself owned buicks for 20 some years. The best we owned was the 1993 park avenue and the 1991 lesabre t type. In the late 90s they went down hill. I will never buy another buick or gm product, youre lucky if they can go 120k before everything falls apart. Second worst buick was the 78 skylark with the weird v6. It achieved resonance at highway speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      You know, I had the same experience! One of the best cars (out of about 30) that I have ever owned was a 1988 Electra T-Type, which I had for 16 years and sold with 221K miles on the original drivetrain.

      One of the worst cars that I have owned was a 2001 Lesabre that I bought with 73K miles on it, to replace the Electra. The list of what broke on this car is too long to mention here, but things failed (in some cases, multiple times) by 100K miles that NEVER failed in 221K miles on the 1988. GM deserved to go out of business IMO.

      My MIL has a 2003 Century which I help maintain, and that car is a cockroach compared to the 2001 Lesabre – it has close to 220K miles on it, original 3.1l and transmission, and is still running well. I have replaced the flaky HVAC control head and resoldered the power resistors in the dash cluster display circuit and that’s it beyond normal maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The ’88 – ’94 H and C bodies were the best transverse FWD vehicles GM built *arguably* ever.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        ajla I think this was the point I was trying to make in earlier discussions debating the merits of a 3800 W/H/C versus a 90/early 2000s V6 Toyota product. I’ve heard way too many stories like nickoos and redmondjp’s about the later cars to inspire any confidence. Likewise I’ve heard much praise for the earlier Series I 3800 cars, my understanding is that Buick/Olds had a very enviable reliability rating during that era.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Both were great in the 90s but Toyota probably held the overall edge. Then as the platforms were cheapened for the Millennium, Toyota retained the edge (despite its own decontenting) as much of the G-body line was implemented poorly.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Hmm. I was getting ready to defend the LeSabre based on the experience we had with my father’s 2005, but then I started thinking about the issues it had – the peeling chrome off the wheels, the front strut bearing bind that neither the dealership nor the private shop the car was later taken to (I figured it out using my phone camera the day we were trading it in this past April) and I decided that it wasn’t worth defending. Not the worst Buick, but not a high water mark either.

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    I personally do not find the Encore to be an atrocity, the 70s and 80s Buick’s were much worse on the reliability, fit and finish, and design fronts. In the mid-90’s we inherited a 88 Skylark Coupe with a stick from an uncle that passed away. I was in college and had my own car (90 Mazda MX-6 GT) but when my car was in the shop or I wanted a change, I would drive the Buick. What a POS. The manual transmission was so vague I found it very difficult to figure out what gear I was in. The suspension was so sloppy and the whole interior felt like it was glued together with Elmer’s. Worst car ever.

  • avatar
    Wildcat

    I had to drive an X-body Skylark for one unfortunate weekend when the new effing Ford product I had just bought, with 1,800 miles on it, decided to die on the freeway on the first day of vacation. They covered the rental fee for up to $20/day, and that’s what we ended up with.

    I’ve never driven the others listed here, but my dad was a Buick man. The absolute worst we ever owned was the ’71 LeSabre he bought in 1973. It blew coolant hoses constantly–always a different one each time. I came to fear the Magic Green Puddle underneath the car. (Nothing beats the time we blew the small bypass hose on Belle Isle, where there are no service stations, and the distributor cap was also soaked and we were pretty much stranded there for hours.) Fuel pump quit. Distributor eventually went bad. And eventually the floor rusted out. Fred Flintstone would have loved it.

    Our favorite was still the ’65 Wildcat. Sadly it lost the battle with rust.

    Anyway, I vote the Reatta as being perhaps not the worst, but certainly worthy of a mention. I was actually a bit excited to see it when it was first introduced, until I sat in it (at the auto show). The inside was all of your typical GM/corporate “old man” trimmings. Nothing sporty about it at all, except for it being a two-seater. From that point on, I deemed it an “old man’s sports car.” I don’t know how it handled, or what power it had, but after seeing how lame the execution was inside, I saw it as a completely lost opportunity.

  • avatar
    RobbieAZ

    My 2nd ever car was a ’78 Skylark with a crappy V6 and 3 on the tree. It was a huge disappointment, especially coming from a ’69 Camaro that blew up. Though the Encore is ugly and slow and not a car I would ever remotely consider, that Skylark certainly had to be worse.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The Buick Encore is so awful, that a long list of other car manufacturers rushed out their own subcompact CUVs, and others are coming to join the party. Despite all that growing competition, and endless predictions from TTAC and the B&B of just wait until X comes out, the Encore will be dead, the Encore/Trax combination outsells all the other comers in the class.

    Yup – take a sub-compact economy chassis, gussy it up, profit. Certainly far worse than the Monza based Buick, or the malaise disaster of the 80s.

    Yes the horrors of a reliable, well equipped urban runabout that can fit four if asked to do it yet fit in a Mini sized parking spot. Isn’t Buick one of the top brands in reliability now?

    The horrors. The horrors…………..

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I’m just amazed that people pay >$30k for these things.

      I think that despite all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, this country isn’t quite a bad off as some think.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        But it provides what a segment of buyers wants, hence why it sells and continues to do so.

        Sure the B&B at TTAC care about 0-60 times being meaningful, great styling, DLO fail, and a list of other issues that 99.5% of other car buyers simply don’t give a crap about.

        Is it small for urban/suburban running? Yes it is.

        Can it seat four when it has to, but largely will have just one ass in the seat. Yes.

        Can it break 30 MPG? Yes it can.

        Can you take it Home Depot and pick up five bags of potting soil? Yes.

        Does it have the same “luxury” features that every other crap can has today? Yes.

        Does it have the same “advanced safety features” that every other crap can has today? Yes.

        Does it look like a car or wagon? No, it stands up tall, like a SUV should.

        Is it easy to park, squirt through tight spaces? Yes, yes it is.

        Does it provide a shred of “keeping up with the Jones” when the neighbors climb in? Well, it’s nicer than a Corolla inside.

        It checks key boxes – profit.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “But it provides what a segment of buyers wants, hence why it sells and continues to do so.”

          No one is denying that it sells, but that doesn’t mean I have to personally like the vehicle.

          The 5th gen Camaro sold pretty well but your personal review of it was still rather scathing.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            No argument here, but given the very dark days of the malaise era, to say the Encore is the worst Buick ever is beyond hubris. It isn’t even close.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        I”m going to guess, based on who I’ve seen behind the wheel of these cars, that they are popular with older people who want the Buick name, and like the combination of small size (easy to maneuver), a relatively high seating position (easy to get in and out of) and halfway decent fuel economy.

        I just spent the weekend in Sebring, Florida, and once you get not-too-far away from the track you find a lot of retirement housing for folks who wanted the Florida climate but couldn’t afford beachfront. These things were pretty common around there.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      …and Acura’s version is still in the oven.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Reatta.

  • avatar
    GenesisCoupe380GT

    Why does that garbage at RenCen still feel like they have the right to insult everyone’s intelligence? Just because you slap a bunch of Buick cues on a crappy small car does not magically make it luxury, especially since Buick doesn’t really stand for luxury in this country anyway. Buick trying to “reinvent” itself is code for “We’re in the middle of an identity crisis and we want the taxpayers to pay for it.”

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Believe it or not, the Encore can attract younger buyers to the brand. My wife is in her early 30s and loves them. The little bug has all the things that appeal to many women just entering their peak earning years: it’s a tidily-sized CUV that looks both cute and expensive, but is actually pretty thrifty to buy and run. Get one in pearl white with chrome wheels and brown leather, and it looks at home next to your boss’s Lexus RX…yet it comes with ample cash on the hood and sips gas like a Sonic.

    I read a review of this car in its Euro Opel Mokka guise — hence stripped of the Buick version’s two redeeming features, the bling and the turbo — and it was witheringly unfavorable. Yet I’ve seen them everywhere, even in the hinterlands of Wales — and even a Korean-branded lookalike (name escapes me but it may be a Ssangyong).

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I know I’m a little late to the game, but:

    http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/DOTJ-86Pontiac1000-09-466×350.jpg

    *Mic drop*

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    See? It’s a Phoenix . . .risen!

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    A couple of thoughts…

    First, hat tip for the Wildcat love right off the top.

    Second, I always had a soft spot for the ’92-’95 Skylarks; I thought the grill was reminiscent of the ’65 Wildcat.

    Third, may I add a late nomination for the Buick Somerset? Digital dash but GM beancounters underspec’d the alternator and you know what happened next. Also, the shape of the dash was such that it had wound up with a funny bend in it as the plastic aged and deformed which looked like hell.

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