By on March 31, 2021

Buick is on my brain.

Not only does an Envision test vehicle sit some 20-odd stories beneath my feet in my parking garage, but the brand has been running its usual ad blitz during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (and presumably, the women’s, too). The tourney is one of my favorite sports events of the year, so I’ve been tuning in.

This means I’m seeing many Buick ads. This means the brand that this here site once put on Death Watch — and earned me at least one angry phone call from Buick PR — is still soldiering on.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Buick twice hosted me at the Final Four as part of a press junket. This was at a previous job.

Thing is, what IS Buick right now?

We know what it is supposed to be — the entry/mid-luxury brand that serves as the bridge between Chevrolet and Cadillac. But right now, it’s a brand that only sells crossovers, covering all sizes and price points. Crossovers that share plenty of bones with “lesser” Chevrolets.

Not to mention that sister brand GMC also sells upmarket crossovers.

What is Buick, then? An entry/mid-level brand exclusively for crossover buyers?

More to the point, what should it be?

I don’t think the brand should die. That could just be nostalgia speaking — I remember some pretty interesting iron sold under the Buick brand in the ’80s and ’90s — but I do believe there is a place on the market for a luxury brand sold by GM that slots in one level below Cadillac.

Especially if GM kepts upper-level Chevys and lower-level Caddys from being priced in the same range.

Again, this isn’t a Death Watch piece. I’m not asking if Buick should live or die, though “die” can be an option. This is an open-ended question, not a binary.

I am asking you, the Best and Brightest, how you’d manage product planning for the brand if you were suddenly plunked into a mahogany-paneled office in the Renaissance Center and given an executive’s pay plan.

So, B and B, what say you? What should GM do with Buick?

Keep it as is? Bring back sedans? Pursue performance? Kill it? Something else?

Have at it.

[Image: Buick]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

98 Comments on “QOTD: What to Do With Buick?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “What should GM do with Buick?”

    Does anyone outside of China care?

  • avatar
    jack4x

    My unrealistic plan:

    Buick becomes the crossover brand. They inherit the Terrain and the Acadia from GMC. Fill as many niches as they can in that market, with actual upmarket design. The only reason they can’t take all of GMC’s SUVs is that Yukon Denali has built such a valuable name for itself that it’s hard to imagine making it a Buick instead.

    GMC returns to truck based/off-road focused only. This gives them the freedom to do fun things like a Wrangler/Bronco competitor (K5 Jimmy?), a Raptor/TRX competitor, more Hummer models, and so on.

    Of course the real answer is going to be more Chinese built vehicles, and a slow decline of an irrelevant and poorly defined brand a la Mercury and Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Buick wagons were once aspirational. CUVs are the natural progression, so your plan makes sense.
      :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Maxb49

      “Buick becomes the crossover brand.”

      No. Just – no. There are too many of these hideous monstrosities on the road already and if Detroit can pull its head out of it’s rear end it’ll see that Wall Street’s focus on crossovers for short term profitability is imperiling the automaker’s long-term success.

      Buick needs to build a good car. A sedan. People still want sedans, they just aren’t “allowed” to buy them. Japanese and Korean companies understand this, which is why they aren’t exiting the sedan market.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I’m sorry to you and the dwindling number of sedan enthusiasts, but the game is up.

        There is very little a sedan does better than a CUV. Real world fuel economy is comparable, cargo space is much larger, AWD availability and ground clearance is a plus in poor weather regions, easier step in height is a must for an aging population and for parents loading children, and so on.

        Against this, we have maybe a couple MPG, a couple thousand dollars in purchase price, and a hard-to-define “fun to drive” factor that weighs approximately zero with approximately 95% of the buying public.

        The Japanese and Koreans are staying in the market because American competitors (and VW) are leaving it. They can hold out for longer, but eventually their sedans will be niche products or discontinued as well. They aren’t introducing any new sedan models (as you suggest Buick should) The CUV is simply a better vehicle form factor for almost everyone.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          No body style dominates forever though.
          CUVs will eventually fade out for something else

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            I agree, but body styles don’t really come back from the dead either.

            People have been pining for the return of the wagon for decades, expecting the return of the minivan for almost as long, and predicting the end of SUVs since I got my drivers license.

            Something will replace CUVs, but I sincerely doubt it will be 3-box sedans as we know them.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Jack nailed the entire auto industry in a nutshell. What comes next? Total electrification, but how that affects what cars become style wise is anyone’s guess

        • 0 avatar
          Maxb49

          “I’m sorry to you and the dwindling number of sedan enthusiasts, but the game is up.”

          Keep telling yourself this, but your assertion is juts plain wrong. Sedan sales are down because consumer choices are restricted – for short term profitability. 100 years from now, there will still be sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Yes, I’m sure companies are in the business of restricting choices that customers demand. But even taking your assertion at face value, let’s observe some sales trends from choices that weren’t restricted.

            Camry sales hit a 25 year low in 2020. Down more than a quarter from 2015 and declining every year since.

            Accord sales hit a 40 year low in 2020. Down 50% from 2014 and declining every year since.

            Sonata sales hit a 20 year low in 2020. Down by 67% from 2012 and flat or declining every year since.

            I’m not taking joy in this. I don’t own a CUV. I’m merely stating facts.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            If people were clamoring for sedans from Buick then the final gen LaCrosse would have sold in higher volumes.
            It wasn’t a perfect car but it was a decent offering. However its sales were still quite low. 20k, 15k, and 7k in the years it was sold.

          • 0 avatar
            DungBeetle62

            Yes, but how do you un-restrict the choices?

            Someone needs to take the risk. Otherwise, we’re in a phase of “everyone likes vanilla, so let’s all discontinue all the other flavors.”

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “Real world fuel economy is comparable”

          Near the same thing except bulbous proportions so this isn’t surprising.

          “Cargo space is much larger”

          All that cubic foot space above the rear seat is deceiving as it is not really useful unless you enjoy not seeing out of the tiny rear view window.

          “AWD availability”

          Which is not offered by choice in sedans which ride the same platforms.

          “Ground clearance is a plus in poor weather regions”

          I live there, don’t have it and its not needed unless you’re off road.

          “easier step in height is a must for an aging population”

          Thank you sodium fluoride.

          “parents loading children”

          Its funny you mention, my Volvo 240 with 15 inch wheels in 1993 had a ground clearance of 4.7 inches (which would have included the wagon). The MY14 Chevy Equinox with 17 inch wheels has a clearance of 6.9 in… so my Volvo with 17s should be about 0.2-0.3 inches lower than the ‘Nox. So it seems this ride height fad is really utter bullsh!t, its just a function of larger wheel sizes.

          “a couple thousand dollars in purchase price”

          Correct, they have the proles lining up to spend several thousand more for the same platform and minor sheet metal changes.

          “The Japanese and Koreans are staying in the market because American competitors (and VW) are leaving it”

          Asian marques are holding firm with increased market share and it should be noted most of those also sell overseas so keeping this production is likely beneficial for overseas markets alone.

          Voltswagen is leaving the non-CUV market?

      • 0 avatar
        Bobby

        Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Buick is already a crossover-only brand. The Opel sourced Regal bit the dust last year and before that, the Lacrosse and (barely known) Cascada coupe. Unfortunately this seeminly permanet shift to crossovers/suvs puts mid-tier brands like Buick and Chrysler in a bind. We already have GMC for mid-level premium SUVS/crossovers (Grand Cherokees and the new Wagoneer for Jeep).

      • 0 avatar

        Buick is already crossover brand. As well as Ford and Chevy. Well Ford and Chevy also make pickups. Or rather also make crossovers. And EV chargers.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      I agree. All the GMCs are just tarted up Chevy’s at this point – basically the same material quality inside. Make a few new models off the Canyon truck frame. They could easily make a 5 and 7 passenger SUV, a Bronco/Wrangler competitor, maybe a smaller pickup. They could possibly use a rigged overseas model.

      Of course, it’s all pointless conjecture since Gm is going all electric in 10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        Maxb49

        “Of course, it’s all pointless conjecture since Gm is going all electric in 10 years.”

        I’ll believe it when I see it.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          In ten years, GM will have a fraction of the market share that it has now. It’s on a steady decline, and has been for many years.
          They should try anything and everything if they want to survive.
          The first steps should be increasing quality in all its aspects, and setting realistic MSRPs that don’t have to be discounted by 5 or 10 grand just to make a sale.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “There is very little a sedan does better than a CUV. ”

      Absolutely true if you don’t care about driving enjoyment.

      I’ve been shopping for something new, and figured I’d check out CUVs. Tried two of the ones that are supposedly the most driver-focused – the Mazda CX-5 and CX-30, both with the more powerful turbo engine – and I was thoroughly let down by both.

      I’m on sedans for life, and, yes, some will still be made despite the popularity of CUVs. Screw the trend.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I’m not saying they won’t be made.

        This whole argument started with me countering the assertion that what Buick needed to survive was a new line of sedans, which I think is preposterous.

        Sedans will become a niche product like coupes have. You will always be able to buy them, they will just never again be the default family transportation.

      • 0 avatar
        Maxb49

        “There is very little a sedan does better than a CUV. ”

        “Absolutely true if you don’t care about driving enjoyment.”

        Or driving safety. A sedan’s lower center of gravity handles better and, yes, makes the vehicle safer in an emergency. The sedan rides better and feels more secure. I find CUVs to be incredibly uncomfortable and ungainly.

        As for the sedan being a “niche” market like coupes? Toyota sold over a quarter million Camrys in 2020 in the United States alone. Hardly a niche.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          As I pointed out up thread, that quarter million is down 25% in the last 5 years and falling.

          There was a time when coupes sold in the hundreds of thousands in this country too.

          A couple inch lower COG might make a difference in the 99.9th percentile of handling prowess, but with modern stability control and tires, every CUV on sale today is safer in “at the limit” handling than any sedan built more than 10 years ago. Enthusiasts may not like it, but no one in the general population cares how any vehicle handles beyond the ability to take an onramp at freeway speed.

          • 0 avatar
            Lichtronamo

            One thing a CUV does better than a sedan is having people sit in the back seat. The trend to lower the roof line in a swept back form either for aero/fuel economy or style reasons hurts rear headroom and entry/exit. Add in the area and versatility of the cargo and that’s two huge factors in terms of practically favoring the CUV over the sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            And nobody takes an onramp at anything resembling freeway speed anymore! Take that how you will!

          • 0 avatar
            Maxb49

            “A couple inch lower COG might make a difference in the 99.9th percentile of handling prowess, but with modern stability control and tires, every CUV on sale today is safer in “at the limit” handling than any sedan built more than 10 years ago.”

            That’s just bs.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        If you care about driving enjoyment above all there are vastly better choices than a crossover or a sedan.

        Honestly, if you aren’t driving an Ariel Atom then do you really care?

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Honestly, if you aren’t driving an Ariel Atom then do you really care?”

          Yes. I don’t see the case for absolutist thinking here.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          @Max,

          https://teknikensvarld.se/algtest/

          You don’t have to believe me, here are the “moose test” evasive handling results from over a decade of testing. European models of course, but the general trend is clear. Modern CUVs complete the test at more or less the same speed as older, and sometimes even current sedans.

          Highlights:

          2012 BMW M5 72 km/h

          2016 BMW X3 71 km/h

          2008 Honda Accord 71 km/h

          2017 Ford Mondeo 66-72 km/h

          2017 Hyundai Tucson 74 km/h

          2017 Jeep Cherokee 75 km/h

          2008 Mazda 6 71 km/h

          2021 Mazda CX-30 76 km/h

          2018 Subaru Outback 73 km/h

          2014 Tesla Model S 68 km/h

          etc etc etc

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I couldn’t find more recent accident data but the NHTSA does give crossovers a worse rollover risk rating versus their sedan counterparts (Camry vs RAV4, etc.)

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “I’m on sedans for life”

        That’s pretty much where I am too. As much as I’d like to dabble in sports cars, sedans are just the best fit for my lifestyle and desires. Maybe a big coupe could work but those are even more rare on the market. If that means some brands never get money from me then it seems like they are fine with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dartdude

      What is deceiving about SUV,CUV and hatchbacks is there useable interior space is base on filling the whole interior. Most people don’t use the space above the seats.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      The Buick Enclave always strikes me as being the spiritual successor to the various full-sized Buick Estate Wagons (Roadmaster, Electra, LeSabre, Super, Century, Special and just plain Estate Wagon). I can imagine Buick becoming to GMC what Dodge is to Ram, only with Buick only selling various CUVs from Encore to Enclave and GMC focusing on the truck-based pickups and SUVs.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    First, Chevy must stop selling the high end cars. The most expensive Chevy should cost much less than the cheapest Buick. The cheapest Cadillac should cost more than the most expensive Buick. After you cut these from Chevy and Cadillac, trim the high and low price points from Buick. Sell only crossovers, As for GMC, no crossovers and no overlap with Chevy and Cadillac.

  • avatar
    sentience

    Specific to US product planning, Buick enjoys an interesting distinction – it has the largest market share of female buyers.

    https://gmauthority.com/blog/2021/02/buick-brand-enjoys-highest-share-of-female-buyers-in-the-united-states/

    Strategically pivoting the design, feature set, and marketing would help give it distinction away from it’s other GM stablemates. Instead of being the “brand name generic” chevy, the “profession grade” GMC, or “luxury” Cadillac, it could be the de facto small family, new family brand. Similar to what Saturn use to be.

    Two related thoughts.

    1. GM had a performance brand. It was called Pontiac. Internal in fighting with Chevy doomed it.

    2. GMC needs a pivot of its own. The Acadia and Terrain stick out like redheaded stepchildren. Professional grade. Right.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Cadillac CUVs are what Buick should be selling and the Cadillac CUVs all need to be brought up to Escalade level.

  • avatar
    mcs

    How about this. Make Chevrolet the lower-end performance value brand. Let Buick have the luxury tuned versions of the same cars in the same price range. GMC becomes Buick’s large truck brand. Limit Cadillac to 6 figure plus cars.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ll also add that I do hope this Ultium stuff is modular enough that Buick can offer non UV products in the future. A G80-sized “Electra” sedan with 400hp and 400 miles of range would be good.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I said ten years ago that they should go all EV but they did not listen to me…As I eat my popcorn in my armchair…lol..I wish they had listened they would be so far ahead of everyone else.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Enough about any focus on price – each division should target a certain customer group and let the price fall where it may. GMC should be the rough and tumble Jeep brand, Buick the more elegant thoughtfully designed brand, Chevy for the masses, Cadillac for the truly elite.

    GM will never do this as their skills do not seem to include any priority for design or reliability. They will continue to shrink to pickups and large SUVs, and will only get rid of any brands in the next bankruptcy. They’ve already lost market leadership in Canada – how long will it be for the US market to turn the same way?

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I generally agree with the above responses that encourage GM to give Buick more “space” in between Chev and Cad. Clearing out the GMC CUVs is a good idea too.
    But I’m afraid Buick lost it’s identity a long time ago. Buick used to mean large, luxurious cars with an understated personality, a contrast to a Cadillac’s bling-gasm. It also used to mean large, tourquey engines that never broke a sweat, not 3-cylinder Cox motors. Buick was a car for someone who wanted “stealth” luxury without announcing it to the world.
    The current Buick fleet doesn’t fit what Buick was for almost a century. Buick needs to figure out how to get their mojo back. But with electrification about to homogenize cars even more, it will be hard to stand out.

    • 0 avatar
      DungBeetle62

      Cox motors, I like it.

      When my Dad was in his 60s he referred to Buicks as “old fart cars” and when someone in their 60s is saying that, there’s a problem. Shortly after, we both agreed the cars were improving and Buick seemed poised to calm out be an American Lexus. Not sporty, not ostentatious, but tasteful and a step above a Chevy.

      Then came SUV/CUV mania and every now-decent looking Buick sedan is gone.

      This problem has so many moving parts and one aspect has become Cadillac would need to go further upmarket to give Buick breathing space. someone said elsewhere the most expensive Chevy should not be more than the cheapest Buick. Disagree, but the most expensive Chevy platform-mate should not exceed the price of its Buick counterpart.

      The Escalade is not everyone’s aspirational vehicle and I can’t seriously believe someone’s cross-shopping that parade float with a Q7 or Merc GLS. Maybe going electric will change the playing field, but how many times since the Seville was first introduced has GM said Cadillac was going after Europe and falling short?

      And lastly, I’m not sure anyone else has drilled down to this degree: but are there ANY standalone Buick dealers anymore? I thought every dealer was paired with GMC – meaning Buick’s all-crossover and forcibly aired with an all truck and crossover marque. This is why I always thought it stupid when Jaguar started selling SUVs – “Oh, you want a CUV-wagon-looking thing? Let me show you this great Land Rover here across the lot”

  • avatar
    NN

    They need to keep Buick in the US. It’s huge in China, so that pays all the bills, and if they canceled it in the US it would reflect negatively within China and hurt business there. Anything Buick does in the US is nothing more than the cherry on top.

    I know GM will likely use Buick to import more Shanghai GM Chinese products. They already have the investment in the infrastructure. Doing so in a grand fashion would be a terrible PR move for GM in these political times, so I think they’ll continue to do it the way they have with the Envision…slowly, bit by bit, under the radar with products that don’t get a lot of press, nothing flashy, but will find an audience that isn’t discriminating much about the sincerity of a brand.

    That said, if GM really wanted to build upon Buick’s real brand image, they could bring back large American sedans, even make them electric, but make design cool again. Kind of like what they’re doing with Hummer. Build a couple halo vehicles at Hamtramck to sell to Americans, export them in low volume to China, and simply use them as a halo factor to sell more Chinese cars to Chinese people. That would be a good way to foster the brand with a long term vision (I’m not holding my breath)

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    I thought Buick found a nice niche for a while there selling top end Opels (and resurrecting the Buick-Opel link), the Regal (Insignia) and Cascada, as well as a sedan based on the Astra. German cars with a US badge.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    My dad was a huge Lesabre fan, we had 3 over his driving year. It was aspirational for alot of Boomers. I actually like the Envision styling best of all GM crossovers, but I can’t get over the Chinese VIN code, so it’s a no go.
    I think they need an electric SUV’oid shaped large car and call it the Roadmaster or Lesabre. I won’t buy it but it would give Buick a premium halo.
    Buick dealers are already considered the nicer,more upscale showrooms compared to Chevy, and most are shared w/ Cadillac and GMC trucks.
    But, good lord I hope their business plan isn’t to just keep moving Encores to 78 year old women.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “I hope their business plan isn’t to just keep moving Encores to 78 year old women.”

      Deep in the RenCen…

      “Dammit how did they figure it out!”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, their business plan for years was to move LeSabres to 78 year old men, so I don’t know why selling Encores to 78 year old women is an issue. Tastes do change.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    The time to save Buick was back when the Chevy Volt was introduced.

    Buick (or Cadillac) could have become GM’s high-tech brand.

    But, instead, Chevy is the high-tech / green-tech brand. Chevies have the luxury features I care about for the most part (leather seats, sunroof, power everything).

    But that was 10 years ago. I suggested the idea then. I don’t know what they’re supposed to do now. I’m glad it’s not my problem. [shrug]

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    In keeping with its traditional audience of older drivers who are more likely to resist BEVs, Buick could reinvent itself as the last bastion of niche ICE vehicles as the rest of the automobile market landscape electrifies their model lineups.

    Else, all Buick can do is grow its lineup of vehicles originally designed to satisfy the tastes of foreign markets.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      Huh? Take a good look around: hybrids and electrics are almost always operated by aging boomers. Tech moguls’ obsession with Tesla, and poor college students schlepping around in used up hand me down priuses aside, you almost never see anyone under age 60 driving greenie mobiles. For one, they’re insane expensive for what you get. And BEVs especially are the perfect old peoples cars: they’re silent, low maintenance, total zeros on the “driver’s car” spectrum and range doesn’t matter if you never go anywhere. And it’s not like aunt Edna cares about being able to load up snowboards or her kayak for her active outdoorsy lifestyle. A buick-ized bolt will do just fine.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @MoparRocker74 Sir, I live in Washington DC and politely disagree with your assessment. I see plenty of Prii’s, Volts, and other hybrids/electrics driven by those in their 30’s and 40s. They are perceived as a “good value” by their owners. To be honest most of the hybrid/electric drivers I know also have a luxury/performance vehicle. Prius/Gladiator, Corolla Hybrid/BMW 3 series, Volt/Suburban LTZ; I think this is how many driveways will look in the future. One 300,000 mile commuter beast and one fun/sporty/weekend vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “…you almost never see anyone under age 60 driving greenie mobiles…”

        If you were actually looking at who drives these, versus looking to confirm your own biases, you’d seen TONS of folks in their 30s and 40s driving EVs. In particular, they’re driving Tesla Model 3s, which have replaced the BMW 3-series as the official yuppie mobile. But I have a feeling you didn’t think much of the 3 series either.

        And if you’ve never driven a performance EV – and I have – I’d say you need to before you say they’re no fun.

        • 0 avatar
          Maxb49

          “And if you’ve never driven a performance EV – and I have – I’d say you need to before you say they’re no fun.”

          My Tesla was no fun. It was a quality control nightmare.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Max – yeah I hate reviewers who make excuses for Tesla issues they wouldn’t accept on a used Chevy Sonic.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        MoperRocker, I can only conclude that you’ve never actually driven a BEV or even paid any attention to reviews of them.

        Whatever you think of Teslas, the idea that they’re “total zeros on the ‘driver’s car spectrum” is insane. The Model S Performance will out-drag a Hellcat at any speed you can reach on a public road without committing a felony. Low center of gravity and perfect weight distribution make them great handlers. The Model 3 keeps winning comparos against the small-sedan competition. EVs from the big guys don’t tend to be as performance-centered as Tesla but they are still very competitive in segment, even the lowly Bolt. How many gas-powered small hatchbacks do 0-60 in under seven seconds?

        And range is not a concern for your weekend snowboarding trip. It’s a concern for cross-country road trips. Anyone who had spent a week with an EV would realize that.

        Here in Seattle, the EV buyer base skews young, with a lot of tech bros in their 20s and 30s driving Teslas and first-time buyers getting used Leafs. The olds are buying a lot of hybrids (Prius at the low end, Lexus RXh at the high end) but not as many BEVs.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “The Model 3 keeps winning comparos against the small-sedan competition.”

          Where have you seen that? Especially against the 6-cylinder trims. Lots of YouTube drag races but by that definition a Camaro is better than an LC500.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            https://www.motortrend.com/cars/tesla/model-3/2018/tesla-model-3-vs-bmw-330i-vs-genesis-g70-comparison-test/

            https://www.motor1.com/reviews/378302/bmw-3-series-tesla-model-3-comparison/

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’ve read the Motor Trend review. Not sure why they picked the base engine BMW and Genesis to run against a $54k Model 3 LR. The Tesla still might win but I think it would be a more direct comparison.

            I’m sure Teslas are fine to drive (I haven’t experienced one personally) but Polestar 2 and Mach E reviews seem to compare their handling favorably to the Tesla competition and the Polestar & Ford aren’t really sport sedans.

        • 0 avatar
          Maxb49

          “And range is not a concern for your weekend snowboarding trip. It’s a concern for cross-country road trips. Anyone who had spent a week with an EV would realize that.”

          I don’t go on snowboarding trips. I make a lot of trips throughout the day and yes, range is a problem, as is battery degradation. I also make at least one long range trip per week. Making excuses for the limitations of a tool (in this case, a lithium ion battery) doesn’t change the limitations of that tool.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “I also make at least one long range rip per week.”

            Then EVs may not be for you until fast charging gets faster, but you are also very much an outlier. “One long-range trip per week” is just not a common use case. Most people are commuting and running errands on the weekdays, taking recreational trips on the weekend, and taking longer road trips 1x-3x annually.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Shut it and GMC down. These are extra brands that bring nothing new to the table, just badge jobs. If they offered something unique that would be one thing… but there is nothing on the Buick or GMC lot I can’t get at the Chevy store.

    The only way to make Buick work is if Caddy went way more high-end but that would likely bomb. So Buick is a stuck in the middle ground that is getting squeezed from both ends. As luxury features, finishes and cool tech become common place the idea of a “near luxury” brand like Buick, Acura and Infiniti make less and less sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      GMC in particular brings $$$ to the table. Its why the US Government didn’t shut it down through bankruptcy. The transaction prices on GMC SUVs and pickups are higher than either Chevy or Cadillac. It’s the brand for people that have money but don’t need to show it.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    As stated above, Buick has become a political hot potato for GM. China loves them, but they have grown stale and clueless to the American market. I don’t see them as aspirational, I don’t see them as premium, I don’t see them worth the list price as per the window sticker. They’ve become too plural like Cadillac.

    Possible resolution:
    – as mentioned above, limit the content and dollar value of Chevy. The same thing happen to Mercury when you could get a Ford with all the same options killing Mercury volumes
    – Get Cadillac’s act together. Not sure what a Cadillac represents today. Certainly not an aspirational vehicle. Up the price, but bolster the image as well. Way too much bling. In the commercials, get an actual doctor or athlete or captain of industry to pitch the vehicle like they are currently doing with a female basketball player. She makes a point that she encounter headwinds in life, but she achieved her goals and rewarded herself with a Cadillac. The message needs to be: “ A Cadillac is a reward, not an entitlement”
    – Give Buick an exclusive EV and play on the ideal the forward thinking people drive a Buick, not just retired old men (like me). More focus on the health club and less on the county club ( there’s those old folks again). Buick is too focused on the remaining baby boomer like me who are dropping like flys; Gen X and Y should be the target. Once they pay off their student debt and inflated mortgages and get the offspring out the door, they’ll be looking for something special.

    • 0 avatar
      3SpeedAutomatic

      As a footnote to the above, be careful about making Buick the “female” brand. Ford did this with Mercury during its last few years with champaign colored Mariners and weird interior trim. This added the last nail in the coffin for Mercury..

      • 0 avatar
        DungBeetle62

        For too long Mercury was basically “The weird/ugly looking version of the Ford”

        If that’s your differentiation, there really is no point.

        I liked that final Cougar, but once they told me “we don’t have any V6s because of a recall involving the wheels, we can make you a nice deal on a 4-cylinder.” I wasn’t spending a dime at their dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      3SpeedAutomatic

      Footnote #2: For Christ’ sake Cadillac, please get rid of your alphabet soup of models. Its a Euro thing, get it!?? Cadillac represents North American mindset and most Americans can’t can barely remember their SS#, let alone a series of numbers and alphabet.

      Lincoln stepped away from this garbled message and is reaping the rewards. Long live the Corsair!!

    • 0 avatar
      refimike

      I work at a Chevy, Buick, GMC dealer in sales and I couldn’t agree more with your statement concerning the brand.

      On a separate note,I am a 42 year old and I drive a hybrid sedan, there are also 2 other guys who drive hybrids in our sales department. One is mid 30s and the other is mid twenties. We all bought new. A further interesting comsideration, not one salesperson there (15 of us) drives a CUV, it’s about 50% full size truck the other half is all sedans. The team consists of 90% guys in their late 20s to late 30s. Most have families too. I personally could find much wiser ways to spend 45k on a crossover than to spend it on an Envision. One look at the new Toyota Venza shows how much further along brands like Toyota is on the electrification game. Let’s just hope GM can get their EV game down cuz they haven’t released anything electric that hasn’t been a total disaster since the Volt. Oh wait, those are all getting 10k battery packs installed right now under recall….

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This based on the premise that Cadillac is a luxury brand outside of Escalade. Close but no cigar for most of the buying public. With Cadillac downgraded to near-luxury like Acura or Infinity, where does this leave Buick? It isn’t 1968 and Alfred P Sloan is quite dead. Traditional Buick buyers are aged between retired and dead these days. Their children and grandchildren are buying high-end Japanese or German iron. Buick is like an athlete at the end of their career that came back for one more season. It should be given an immediate and outright release.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    When I see an old Buick, I think it is driven by a good American. And when I see a new Buick I think it is driven by China spy.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I think the brand needs to survive because, while dwindling, it remains GM’s best hope for not completely fading into irrelevance in China. Killing the brand in the US would be horrible publicity in China.

    So I tend to think it should continue to be sold alongside GMC in the same dealers, with different emphasis. Buick should concentrate on premium design and luxury, and try to emulate Volvo as best it can within the constraints of GM corporate platforms. GMC should focus on the rugged trucklike image. In the current market that will mean GMC will sell better, but eventually the off-road craze will wither and the pendulum will swing. It’s just fine for Buick to be CUV-only, although the optimum lineup for them would have one sedan in the vein of the LaCrosse that would compete with the Lexus ES. (LaCrosse was a terrible name. Park Avenue would be much better.)

  • avatar
    Fred

    The last time I paid attention to Buick is when the wagon and Regal hatch came out. Dealer was excited about the wagon and he had 4 of them on the lot. Said he was getting a lot of inquiries. I didn’t buy one. Still within a couple of months they were gone from the lot. I have never seen one in my small town so I’m not sure where they went.

    I don’t see many Buicks at all. Except for this one older car that is a bit slow up the hill. It seems this whole mid-luxury market is kind of iffy. If you don’t have some cache then you can’t sell luxury, even if it’s a fine car. Seems Buick survives because the Chinese like them and they fill a rather small niche here in America.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    What to do with Buick? I can only answer for myself as a car consumer: since they offer stuff that I have zero interest in, I’m going to avoid the brand.

    But from a marketing perspective, if they’re looking to sell crossovers at a price point between Chevy and Cadillac – which is a real market – then they need to just keep on keepin’ on.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    To this Buick owner an all-CUV Buick brand is dead to me. I’ll slap my forehead in wonder for the rest of my days at GMs internal documents showing that TourX buyer’s had higher household income than ANY OTHER BUICK BUYERS. GM’s reaction? Yeah f=%/ those guys, we’re gonna canncel it with no plan to keep those people. (If you look at the forums TourX buyers were wagon fanatics burned by Audi, Volvo, and VW.) Ok rant over.

    Buick needs to do this “all-CUV thing right. No cloth interior Buicks. Heated seats standard. Driver assistance features standard. Options for uplevel audio, panoramic roofs, and powered hatches. No “cheap Buick” to try to steal a customer from the Chevy dealer.

    GMC should be “professional grade” for real. No unibody mommy mobiles, GMCs either come with interiors that are rubber/plastic/vinyl or in Denali. Nothing in between.

    I like my local GMC/Buick dealer but I wish they’d buy a Hyundai or Kia franchise. Maybe they’d keep me as a customer.

  • avatar
    gasser

    The problem with Buick is Cadillac. Until Cadillac finds its niche, Buick won’t be able to correctly position itself. I agree that keeping Buick alive in the U.S. is mostly an effort to maintain its Chinese market. That said, its very unlikely that Buick could develop and manufacture U.S. only vehicles and make money.
    If they want to stay in the market, Buick needs to be upscale from Chevrolet. NO 3 cylinder vehicles!!! Put some money into the car/CUV to convince me it’s worth more than a Chevy. The Verano was differentiated from the Cruze; what happened to product development??

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I don’t buy into marketing and branding of cars, but holy crap, I’d be embarrassed to buy a Buick – car or SUV.

    Just kill it stateside. GM will keep whoring themselves to the Chinese who apparently think Buick is nice. They made one cool concept car 9 years ago and have done nothing since.

    I did like the Regal Sportback and wagon, though. Then again, that wasn’t Buick… it was Opel.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Buicks is on the right course for now with near luxury CUVs I saw an Envision on the road and its a good looking vehicle, much better than the Blazer. Stellantis actually needs to follow GM’s lead with Buick and make Chrysler an all CUV brand essentially rebadging the Peugeot 2008, 3008 and 5008 for sale here while keeping the Pacifica.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Hey GM, this is free (since you did pay for my vasectomy):

    If you want to keep all your U.S. brands [and I know enough about your dealer structure and profitability to know the answer is yes], you need to differentiate (meaningfully) between your brands. (Back in my day we had Oldsmobile and Pontiac [and Saturn and Hummer] to deal with as well, your job will be easier now.)

    Here is where you can still give an EV “personality” [in the vehicle itself – we will leave dealer/service/ownership experience to you]:
    • Accelerator mapping [ex. Chevrolet = peaky/responsive, Buick = neverending torque – you get the picture]
    • Seats – including comfort/feel, materials, adjustability [Cadillac = fully reclining + massaging + heated + cooled + I don’t need to tell you about seat features]
    • Closures – the sound and the handle material/method for opening and closing [Chevrolet gets a metal recessed handle (only), Cadillac gets the fiddly ‘wowwww’ automatic mechanism, the closing ‘clunk’ of the Buick reminds you of Grandpa]
    • Braking feel, including regenerative braking (all sorts of possibilities here)
    • Switches and controls – material and function (including the audio system)
    • Steering [we can control/adjust the ‘mapping’ now] and driver assistance features
    • Interior storage – As an example, Chevrolet gets the available drawer under the passenger seat, while we would never do this for Cadillac [‘clutch’ vs. suitcase-as-purse]
    • Interior materials (this is a trouble spot for you, but going forward put the earth-friendly recycled-water-bottle seat fabric on the Chevrolet – not the Cadillac – clear?)
    • Suspension – dig out those magnetorheological dampers you developed, and feed them different inputs for a Chevrolet vs. a Cadillac (I shouldn’t have to tell you that a Buick should provide good road isolation at cruising speed)
    • Paint (no hints here, but I am available for the low low consulting rate of $300/hour)

    These are thought-starters, not complete lists [how can your staff be so lazy? seriously]. But the point is, you can still meaningfully differentiate the driving experience working from a modular bin of EV parts (your CEO has an electrical engineering degree and can explain how this works).

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      The problem with all that is that you’re asking for more engineering. This is $$. Buick will try to reuse existing components to lower the cost of production. I will be surprised if they invest extra into different suspension tuning.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        @slavuta,

        GM is paying for engineering “butts in seats” whether they make any changes to Buick vehicles or not. In 2021 you can use common components but change their function through software, which has no incremental “per-unit” cost.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      • Suspension – dig out those magnetorheological dampers you developed, and feed them different inputs for a Chevrolet vs. a Cadillac (I shouldn’t have to tell you that a Buick should provide good road isolation at cruising speed)

      In the early 2000s Car and Driver suggested that Buick go all in on a “cloud like ride” (but not pitchy just isolated). Too bad GM was too chicken to chase that.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        @PrincipalDan,

        The beauty is with electronics you can do “cloud like” cruising on the interstate (could even vary based on road surface) and still tighten back up for the onramps. [And the extremes you hit and the ‘mapping’ to get there could be different for Buick vs. Cadillac, but now I’m repeating myself.]

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Well given no one wants a sedan in the United States, it seems a near-luxury brand that slots somewhere around where Mazda is aspiring and where Acura was and kind of where Buick is.

    I own a 2017 Lacrosse AWD and I have to say, I love it. Heck the wife loves it and she hates sitting cars as it is. With that said, there is nothing Buick sells today that I would put in my driveway. If a meteor landed on it right now, a fullsize truck would almost certainly be the replacement because – ‘merica.

    As others have noted, critical brand for China, China is the largest automotive market in the world. China is why Buick lived and Pontiac died (and Buick was further along in the rebirth journey).

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    All else equal, a low slung sedan punches a smaller hole in the air and gets better fuel efficiency at high speeds.

  • avatar

    The Corolla alone outsells the entire Buick division 3 to 1. Last year the Corolla was the best selling vehicle in the world.

    Buick sells less than 150,000 vehicles a year in US. What is the point….

    2020 Top 3 world sales
    Corolla – 600,693
    Ford F- Series – 433,399
    Toyota RAV4 – 429,758

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    I think my next vehicle will be a CUV just to get the headlights out of my rearview.

    I was seriously impressed when my brother`s diminutive RVR swallowed a whole six setting dining room set I bought, minus 2 chairs I struggled to get into my back seat and trunk. Made me think.

    Buick? I vaguely recall being attracted to a Toronado Trofeo in my youth, otherwise, I’m drawing a blank.

  • avatar

    I find Buicks dull and predictable. Their poor sales speak for themselves.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Kill Buick, expand Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Other way around.

      1. Buick is a big brand in PRC.
      2. Buick as a brand hasn’t been screwing the pooch on product for near the entirety of four decades.
      3. Buicks are sold alongside GMC, so two marques in the channel. Unless Cadillac’s distribution channel is merged its alone and requires a full lineup.

  • avatar

    ” What to Do With Buick?”

    Leave it alone.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • NutellaBC: Toyota conveniently forgot that Diesel cars > Hybrid cars. But wait, Toyota was never able to build a...
  • Steve S.: Do you have any opinions that Fox News implant in your brain?
  • Steve S.: Username checks out.
  • danms6: I’ve been a long time reader but decided it was worth logging in to let TTAC know persistent content...
  • mcs: ” they are not ready for prime time, they cost too much,” One company, Tesla, moved 200,000 during...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber