QOTD: Is Buick a Premium, Luxury, Upmarket Auto Brand in America, or Not?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
qotd is buick a premium luxury upmarket auto brand in america or not

Use whatever designation you must, but you know what we’re asking. In 2017, is Buick one of America’s premium brands? A competitor for Lexus and Audi? A rival for BMW and Jaguar?

On July 19, Buick released the first images, specs, and pricing details for the next-generation 2018 Buick Regal GS. While dropping the price of the basic Regal to $25,915 — not that much money for a 250-horsepower 2.0T midsize hatchback — Buick apparently improved the sporty GS in every way. The result: the GS is only ten bucks away from being a $40,000 car. The more powerful Ford Fusion Sport is $5,510 cheaper. The Audi S4 is some $12,000 more costly.

But Buick is more than just an intangible no-man’s-land price point. Buick is also a brand that sends mixed messages: advertising that suggests it’s not worthy of praise on the one hand; the new Avenir sub-brand on the other.

What say you: is Buick just another luxury wannabe, or is Buick selling premium goods at a discount?

Sitting in the back seat of my mother’s white 1986 Buick Century, I had no idea as a child that Buick was, had ever been, or ever would be a luxury brand. Decades later, driving a quiet, relatively common, 138-horsepower Buick Encore, a staple of Buick circa twenty-teens, I wondered if Buick was, had ever been, or ever would be a luxury brand.

But forget what other people think, and don’t assume you know what I think. For the purposes of this QOTD, dismiss the belief that Regal GS buyers will never be prospective Audi S4 owners who just decided to save $12K. If only for a moment, reject the idea that your neighbours would never cross-shop the Buick Envision with the blue-collar Chevrolet Equinox.

You decide. On your ledger, in your mind, with your money — is Buick a true American luxury auto brand? Is Buick forever resigned to toil in mainstream obscurity with Chevrolet, Ford, and Honda, or does Buick earn unusual status as Detroit’s Acura?

[Images: General Motors]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 21, 2017

    As pointed out above, it's sort of middling entry-luxury with Acura and Volvo. It's not really all that premium, and it's not upmarket.

  • Thornmark Thornmark on Jul 22, 2017

    Buick is GM's Chinese-driven brand that also sells some product in their secondary, less important market, the USA. And no it's not luxury, it's Sino luxury.

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