By on March 14, 2018

Buick has been on my mind lately, ever since reading that the GM division will remove brand lettering on all models starting in 2019. This change isn’t particularly shocking, as Buick is merely catching up with what other premium brands are doing on the badge front (I always prefer more badges to less, brougham-style).

Then, quite literally as my fingers tapped out this post, Mr. Jack Baruth announced Buick must die in short order. But what might General Motors do to save the luxury shield from its own axe?

What would Buick look like for you, in 2025?

Change is possible. The Buick brand underwent some reformatting over the past 15 years or so. Consider what the lineup looked like in 2005:

  • Century
  • LaCrosse
  • Lesabre
  • Park Avenue
  • Rendezvous
  • Rainier
  • Terraza

About half of these models are at the end of their life, and roughly all of them represent modifications (and cost-cutting) to 1990s platforms — and we’re not even at the recession yet. Now look at 2015:

  • Verano
  • Regal
  • LaCrosse
  • Encore
  • Envision
  • Enclave

Refreshed product on newer platforms, a broader range of sedans (note I didn’t say fast-selling), and more crossover action. Jack correctly points out that the 2018 lineup is lackluster. The new entrants to the lame party are the Regal Sport and TourX, neither of which are likely to set sales figures alight. But here’s where you come in.

The argument for keeping Buick around is a valid one. The long history of that shield has some value left in it, especially where the Chinese consumer is concerned. Whether the Chinese consumer would care whether new Buicks are still sold to Americans is another question, and one I can’t answer. But it certainly can’t hurt Chinese sales to have Buick dealers selling new metal here.

What that metal looks like is up to you. Come up with a reasonable and realistic idea of what the Buick lineup could look like in 2025, working under the assumption that GM has remained faithful to the tri-shield. It’s pick and mix time.

[Images: Murillee Martin, Wikipedia, TTAC]

 

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72 Comments on “QOTD: Can You Make the Case for Buick in 2025?...”


  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I can make the case that the tri-shield is and has always been a excellent symbol.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    It has been ten years now since I started saying “Chevrolet and Cadillac, everything else is noise”. That was true in 2008 and is still true today.

    GM would be much better off concentrating on one broad market brand and one upmarket brand in North America. Buick and GMC just muddy the waters and add too much marketing and distribution expense for what little market share they might gain. Do you really think GMC truck buyers are too stupid to know they are getting a Chevy truck with a nose job? Marketing a consumer auto brand is crazy expensive, and neither Buick or GMC is worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Do you really think GMC truck buyers are too stupid to know they are getting a Chevy truck with a nose job?”

      All due respect to GMC truck buyers, but given that their stuff sells in huge numbers, maybe you answered your own question.

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      “Do you really think GMC truck buyers are too stupid to know they are getting a Chevy truck with a nose job?”

      Did it ever occur to you that maybe people buy a GMC ~BECAUSE~ it has different styling to a Chevy?

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        GMC is for people who want Professional Grade. Duh.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “Did it ever occur to you that maybe people buy a GMC ~BECAUSE~ it has different styling to a Chevy?”

        BAM!!!!!!!!!!

        Hated the Avalanche front end on the Chevy HD trucks in 2004, so traded the ’97 2DR Tahoe in on a Sierra HD.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        So axe GMC and offer alternate styling packages.

        Oh wait, there are people who believe there is a mechanical difference between Chevy and GMC; people who believe “Professional Grade” actually means it’s built with more durability. In other words, suckers. GM makes a healthy profit selling them a GMC at a higher price.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      GMC is for the soccer moms who think it’s prestigious. Works well enough because they sell about the same number of those as they do the Chevys and at a higher margin for the same Fisher Price grade materials.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        If GMC was truly professional grade then GM would “man up” and give GMC the warranty that Buick currently has. Buick and GMC are sold at the same dealers, why not have the same warranty. (Yeah I’m slightly disgruntled that my wife HAD TO HAVE a Terrain over an Equinox. But if Momma ain’t happy…)

    • 0 avatar

      Keeping a brand alive in NA due to its success in China is ridiculous.

      BUT if you kill Buick, GMC must also go. Each props up the other.

      GMC gives Buick dealers a truck to sell. Buick gives GMC dealers a car to sell.

      THEREFORE mimic Ford’s longtime strategy, make more premium Chevies – especially Chevy Trucks – and grow the brand. Offer maybe one or two Cadillacs that fill the part of the Avenir gap that makes more sense than Chevy.

  • avatar
    Parousia

    After reading this article (and Jack’s), some thoughts. Buick should re-define itself as the Power and Comfort brand. Instead of selling clones of Chinese, German, and Polish metal, sell luxed-up more powerful versions of Chevrolet’s non-truck fleet. Be disciplined and offer three trims of each Chevy vehicle. One trim takes the LT version of the Chevy and adds more power. One takes the top trim of the Chevy model and adds more comfort and convenience to it. And the third (the “Avenir” trim) adds both power and luxury. Stay on point through a couple of model cycles and you’ll have your brand ID established and be good to go.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      Good example of this – in the 90s – was the Roadmaster versus the Caprice. Same platform, same engine (well minus the 4.3L V8 available in the Caprice), but the Roadmaster had the smoother ride and plusher interior.

      I still miss my Roadmaster and would still drive one if I could – but they’ve gotten so long in the tooth that finding one that isn’t rusted out or driven to death is near impossible. Also Opti-Spark.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        In the early 90s before the LT1 became the top engine there were a few years that the Roadmaster came standard with the 350 while the base engine in the Caprice was the 305. If you could get your Buick dealer to deal, you could get a 350 Roadmaster for practically the same price as a 305 Caprice.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Should Buick still be here in 2025 it would be as a performance brand to distinguish itself from Cadillac. Perhaps a Wildcat with the 6.2L from the Silverado. Some kind of performance Regal EV to compete with the Europeans (Tesla having gone under in 2021) and a turbo midsize CUV.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The 2018 line up is this:

    Regal Sportback/TourX
    LaCrosse
    Cascada
    Encore
    Envision
    Enclave

    The 2025 line up will drop the Regal, LaCrosse, and Cascada. Important to remember that not only does Buick exist because of China, but in the US it is sold in a combined GMC/Buick dealership, so the range of both brands should be considered. GM could possibly add a two-row CUV between the Envision and Enclave (think Ford Edge/Nissan Murano), but that would tread on the GMC Acadia’s market.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Buick has two businesses: cars and CUVs. The latter is doing great. The former is a bust. And it’s a bust for a pretty simple reason: pricing.

    I checked out a TourX last weekend…they wanted close to forty large, for a base model with cloth seats and four-banger. Regal and LaCrosse pricing is similarly wack. I don’t think there’s much mystery as to why their sedans aren’t selling.

    Therefore, my plan for Buick 2025: keep the current lineup, but for God’s sake, institute some pricing sanity for the sedans.

    • 0 avatar

      They can’t ask Volvo money for their wagon. It should be priced slightly above an Outback with 4-cyl.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I thought starting price for the base TourX was supposed to be $30k?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve never seen that sort of price listed for a Tour X. Tour X base price is roughly $29,999 – how much was the adjusted dealer markup?

        FYI if there are dealers out there with new TourX/Sportback/GS with ADM on the sticker, those dealers need to be drug out into the street and shot by GM. You’ve got a desirable product for the first time in years and you’re trying to make people pay like its a new Camaro.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Here you go, Dan. No ADM. Sticker was a touch below $38,000. So, yeah, I was cheating a bit on the forty large line, but not by much.

          https://www.autonationbuickgmcparkmeadows.com/VehicleDetails/new-2018-Buick-Regal_TourX-Preferred_AWD-Lone_Tree-CO/3159146943

          Now, is this thing gonna sell at sticker? No way. But it’s silly to even ASK 38 large for this car. Do a Saturn “value price” thing, sticker it AND sell it for $30-32,000, and be done. At that price point, this looks a lot more appealing. But trying to make a brand “premium” by pricing it that way is just stupid.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            OK but here’s the thing (and yes I think it’s stupid for GM to do Buick this way)there’s always a “base” Buick that is equipped like an LS Chevy. The should be NO “strippo” Buick.

            The trim packages have names like “1”, Preferred, Essence, Premium, & Avenir. Also you usually have to go to the “Essence” level to get heated seats and wheel. (Again STUPID.) Make leather (or leatherette) along with heated wheel and heated seats standard on every Buick. Sell comfort and features.

            There will be an 18% off sale any day now.

            I pity my local Buick dealer. I heard a commercial for them just yesterday, they were announcing 2017 clearance and 18% of select 2018s in the same breath.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Agreed. If you’re selling “premium” you have to treat the product and the customers that way.

            Here’s an example of what’s God-awful wrong:

            https://www.autonationbuickgmcparkmeadows.com/VehicleDetails/new-2017-Buick-LaCrosse-FWD_Essence-Lone_Tree-CO/2968927983

            That car should have been stickered for +/- $35,000 or so, and at that price, it’s a solid value. Top-line Accords and Camrys go for that money, and this is vastly more appealing than either one of those cars.

            Instead, they decided to treat their customers like suckers, trying to con them into paying Lexus money for it, and then discounting it all to hell when that failed. And now it’s a ’17 that’s past its’ sell-by date.

            Dumb, dumb, dumb. All it does is cheapen the car and the brand.

            Do value priced semi-premium luxury, with no BS pricing games, and there you go.

    • 0 avatar

      Much like when I sell at the flea market, GM prices high so that they can have HUGE SALES!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        And I think this approach is unbelievably dumb for the type of borrower they want. If you’re chasing folks who can buy Audis or Volvos, WTF is the point of wasting their time with Jerry Lundegaard sales tactics?

        • 0 avatar
          Johnster

          It also contributes to high depreciation down the line when the lease is over or when the buyer wants to trade it in. Of course, if the buyer got a huge discount up front, the car didn’t really depreciate all that much, but the perception is still there.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            BTW a Tour X optioned like I want is right about $36K, which I don’t think is unreasonable. A dealer within 500 miles of me is advertising $1000 off MSRP already.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I was still marinating on JB’s article regarding Buick yesterday when this came up. Interesting the fuss regarding Buick.

    According to TTAC’s February sales figures all of the following brands sold LESS units than Buick:

    Mini, Alfa, Chrysler, Fiat, Maserati, Lincoln, Cadillac, Acura, Genesis, Jaguar, Land Rover, McLaren, Smart, Infiniti, Tesla, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, & Lotus.

    Buick is fine. My guess is by 2025 their will be zero cars offered and everything will be CUV/SUV in luxury trim.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    The name simply doesn’t work. Phonology will dictate that Buick rename itself to survive.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    I want a new Riviera, and it better not have 4 doors.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Buick does have that “old & tired” stigma to deal with. Buick is like the guy who wears sweats everywhere he goes, he’s basically telling society “Life has kicked my ass and I give up.”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    At this point, Buick is like GMC: it exists mostly to bank some extra bucks. So, for 2025: one sedan for the old-timers, based on whatever replaces the Malibu and Impala, and 4 or 5 CUVs derived from the Chevy equivalents.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    What Buick is that first picture from? I’m guessing it’s from the late ’70s, or ’80s, but it doesn’t look familiar.

    Edit: Scrolling through the Down On The Junkyard archives.

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    Buick will ultimately be sacrificed in the U.S. on the altar of Cadillac. Buick competes for potential Cadillac buyers and Buick’s sedans (new Cimarron!), TourX and CUVs could easily be badge engineered into entry level Cadillacs without diluting the brand. Kill GMC while you’re at it and rebadge the good GMCs into lower trim Cadillac trucks! Chevrolet and Cadillac could easily cover the market just like Toyota/Lexus or Nissan/Infiniti.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    GM is still competing with its self. Sedans are on the way out, and the near luxury SUV’s belong to GMC. No point to Buick in the U.S. unless sedans make a comeback. Or how about a GMC Le Sebre!!

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The only way I see Buick having a future is if the following happen:

    1) Chevy stops trying to go upmarket with LTZ/Premier/High Country

    2) Cadillac stops trying to go down market with low rent ATS, etc.

    3) GMC stops moving into car based vehicles and focuses on heavy trucks only.

    Since I think it’s a stretch for any of those to happen, let alone all three, it’s tough to make a case. Once the Opel pipeline dries up, Buick won’t have much in the way of unique product. I think Mercury is the best example of a similar brand that simply lost its reason to exist.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Regarding the current sedans – I was skeptical when I first read it but I agree with those posters who theorize that the next product replacement cycle the Malibu/Impala and the Regal/Lacrosse will be replaced by one sedan that tries to stretch across both segments.

    I was looking at the local Chevy dealer’s page for giggles and noticed he does not show ANY Impalas in stock but has several Malibu Premiers he would gladly sell you. (I also noticed the crook has them listed for more than MSRP with a $1500 UV/paint protection package.)

    Regarding the Buick lineup in 2025 – IF the CAFE regs stay the way they are I can see a case for Buick in 2025. If the current administration throws CAFE regs out the window AND gas stays cheap Buick/GMC dealers would be much happier as GMC only dealers.

    Is there a case for BUICK for ME? Yes but the Buick sedans I’m interested in I’m interested in exactly because they are unique products. The Impala is now a generation behind the Lacrosse and the new Regal is a way to get a GM Europe product here on our shores with a V6 that the Malibu doesn’t offer along with wagon and hatchback variants that Malibu doesn’t offer.

    If Regal becomes a re-badge of the Malibu after the Opel product goes away then IDGAF about it.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      To my knowledge, Congress can only affect the augural standards 2022-2025. Those standards are the most onerous, but fuel economy requirements will continue rising through 2021.

      An S-Class will need to make 28mpg combined on the sticker by 2021. Current S450 makes 22mpg. LaCrosse is smaller. It will probably need to make 30mpg combined. The E-Assist version makes 29mpg, but that’s with the lazy 2.5L I4. The industry will need to make many changes for next-gen products.

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think the Regal is going anywhere. E2XX platform is brand new, and Regal is the right size. The LaCrosse, on the other hand, is sort of stuck in 5-Series, Lexus GS land. LaCrosse should get bigger. LaCrosse V6 and CT6 V6 weigh about the same. Moving LaCrosse onto the Omega platform would be smart for fuel economy and luxury.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Here’s my case for Buick: in the era when even a Lexus RX comes in a F-Sport version, there’s still a market for sofas on wheels. Buick should invest in the building the world’s most comfortable seats, put them in vehicles with a full range of safety doodads standard and enough power to scoot around comfortably at 2/10ths throttle, make sure everything has a kick-ass stereo, and sell them in no-haggle dealerships. Here’s the ad campaign: this IS your father’s Buick, and isn’t it time that you deserve to put your feet up and relax too? Why deal with the fake sportiness of the rest of the entry-lux market when you can roll around in comfort?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I’d support that.

      Back when Buick was selling Centurys that were rebodied W-platform cars Car and Driver remarked – Say what you want about this car but dang it is quiet inside and man does it isolate you from the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Don’t you know? That’s supposed to be Cadillac’s schtick. That’s also why Cadillac is failing. Cadillac is the new Pontiac at BMW pricing.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        There’s no way that GM is going to let Cadillac go back to being an isolation chamber.

        Just track down the Cadillac Brand Managers and ask them – they’re likely sipping coffee in SOHO.

    • 0 avatar
      haroldhill

      Plus 1. There’s a market (show of hands) for serious comfort without the gaudiness and bravado of Lexus or Cadillac. And it’s a growing market; we’re all getting older.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I would think that with coming degrees of vehicle autonomy, the sofa on wheels approach may have future legs.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      I probably wouldn’t market it as your-father’s-Buick, but making stealthy comfort improvements is smart. That’s how Lexus got the ES positioned as a class leader. Improve comfort. Don’t tell anyone. People buy them compulsively after test drive.

      Stereo upgrades are always good in the luxury space.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Honestly? Let’s take Buick back about 30 years in the looks department. Give them individuality that says, I am a Buick with obvious variation between models rather than making them all look alike. Remember, just two years ago Buick was touting the fact it looked like everything else as a good thing.

    Consider the Riviera of the ’60s; that boat-tail design honestly had some functional effect while making it look both sporty and unique–which it pretty much was at the time. The Electra was a true luxury model–far better in my opinion than the Regal that replaced it. The LeSabre was a cross between personal luxury mixed with a bit of sportiness… especially with the T-type which included suspension concepts taken from the Corvette. Buick was its own brand then, not a me-too brand almost indistinguishable from its competition.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Dumping Buick would be a huge mistake—because of China. Buick is a huge success in China because it is authentically American in Chinese eyes. “American” is sex in China, the same way French used to be the definition of sexiness in the US. “American” is success in China, the same way that (white) Americans saw themselves in the 50s and 60s. There is tons of phony stuff in China—not just products, but entire brands—upscale brands that try to pass themselves off as American, but only exist in China to fill one of their many 10 story tall malls. If Buick does not exist in America, it will essentially be one of those fake brands—and when they are found out then Buick (and GM) will really suffer.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    The status quo will spell the death of American Buick in the next decade, unless there is some seismic and favorable to Buick change in the market. I am not too invested in Buick brands future and kind of agree with JB on Buick not worth saving.

    The problem with Buick are
    1. There is no differentiator to the brand
    2. Its customer base is aging and mostly in rural America. The demographic as a whole is being squeezed economically.
    3. For the people who still remember a Buick it represents a generally reliable, honest to god value luxury car. Unfortunately, there is much competition from everywhere, Lincoln has more cachet, Japanese are more reliable and Ford/Chevy are offering lux levels that previously differentiated buick.

    To fix Buick, no halfhearted attempts will work. Buick had a good patch with Enclave and second gen LaCrosse, but it wasn’t followed up with anyting outstanding. If GM does decide to save Buick they need to

    1. Have stand alone accounting for Buick, a la Cadillac. This way there are no excuses, more freedom and accountability for the brand management.
    2. The Brand needs to come up with a plan.
    2a. Risky- Find a differentiator. One way would be to make every buick a hybrid/electric and AWD and sell hard on this point
    2b. Traditional-The plan may focus on lower prices, better execution and harder marketing without a care for stepping on Chevy/Cadillac. Make hard choices on limiting models but offer them in trim levels that compete from Chevy to Cadillac.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Buick = American Lexus

    Avenir is a good concept. Nearly all special vehicles and sub-brands are based upon performance. Buick has a sub-brand based upon interior appointment and style. Smart. Avenir team needs to take a more prominent role so they have good bones to start with, rather than trying to gussy-up a weird bulbous GM-China interior.

    E-Assist needs to play a more prominent role. Get Gen IV to market. Solve reliability issues.

    Verano – leave it in the past

    Regal – well positioned. It’s the ES350, though, not the TLX, so make a detuned LGX 3.6L the base engine. Make an Avenir trim. Regal GS is more or less on point, though the interior is slightly lacking. Work on hybrid trims, including E-Assist

    LaCrosse – needs a reboot on the CT6 Omega platform, maybe change the name back to Park Avenue. CT6 can keep the LGW V6 and the new 4.2L twin turbo V8 (if it ever arrives). Buick will have the LGX and maybe the L83 V8? Maybe it should have the NA version of the new 4.2L since it’s the same platform.

    Tour X – Decent vehicle. Fix the powertrain (see Regal). Also make the marketing match the vehicle. It’s an estate wagon, but Buick markets it as a Subaru Outback. Either change the marketing or improve the crossover performance.

    Cascada – cancel

    Encore – ridiculous vehicle, but it serves a purpose. Use E-Assist to get combined mpg over 30. Find a naturally aspirated engine for it.

    Envision – serves it’s purpose. Powertrains are reasonably well thought out. Long run it needs to grow into an RX350 competitor. Envision name needs to be swapped for Rainier. I know Buick thinks the “En” name convention is cool, but it’s actually somewhat confusing an not distinctive.

    Enclave – positioned well, but needs lots of attention to detail. Too bland to fetch $50,000.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “But what might General Motors do to save the luxury shield from its own axe?”

    Go bankrupt again and sell the Buick brand rights to a better company.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Buick in 2025? Isn’t it all about China, err, Jina?

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Bring back Dynaflow and the Nailhead V-8 and/or Fireball straight 8, make sure there are big prominent portholes in every front fender. Bring back Broderick Crawford to be the brand spokesman – that’s a bit 10-4.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      I do like the old names. Powerglide, Flightpitch, etc.

      It’s fun reading the wacky portmanteaus and made-up-words marketers concocted in the old days. It’s still alive today, but less emphasized.

  • avatar
    Larry Evans

    Beyond selling vehicles in China, the Buick badge can help move Chinese cars here. Many people do not look beyond brand name origin and will be more accepting of a brand they know than they would be of a brand from China. Buick’s second-best selling vehicle in the US, the Envision, is already made in China. I could see their best-selling vehicle, the Encore, moving from Korea to China as well. With the end of GM’s European operations, those vehicles will also change manufacturing location and China would be a good bet. In this case, having a brand with a long history as a traditional American brand is an asset. By positioning vehicles in a semi-premium class, they can maximize profits from low-cost labor even more.

    So, from a business case, I think keeping Buick makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’m betting that if China gets its way, the US could be the new Cuba–going to ridiculous lengths to keep existing cars on the road while cut off from ALL outside supplies.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I’d still rather be in one of those Cuban cars than any of the dozen or so Chinese brands surrounding you at the light of any third-tier Chinese city. These aren’t even Great Wall caliber. They’re the Yugos of China – old designs from other companies, cheapened and decontented and sold as new vehicles.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Buick needs a big luxury EV in 2025 called the Electra!

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Make everything a full hybrid, both six and 4 cylinders. AWD everything all the time. See if GM will let you create one special engine for yourself. A twin turbo 2.5 v6 with all the bells including hybrid. Each vehicle only have one engine option except the Enclave, which would get the special engine and a regular thats already in it that has hybrid tech.


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