The Buick Regal may have been removed from our market. However, the model persists in China and has recently undergone a refresh that includes the updated tri-shield emblem.
Despite U.S. sales volumes having been lackluster, with the Regal failing to break 20,000 annual units after 2014, the model offered functionality, all-wheel drive, and even a couple of desirable powertrains. There was even a TourX wagon variant that arguably mixed some of the vehicle’s best qualities in an ultra-practical package and the performance-slanted GS that offered a 3.6-liter V6 that developed 310 horsepower. It could have been more focused and aspects of the interior should have been better. But one cannot help but feel like the Regal failed to get the attention it deserved.
Buick is a big deal in China, and it invests heavily in bringing new models to the country. The Buick-China relationship is so strong that the automaker builds vehicles there for import to its home country, the United States. The Envision SUV has long been built at a GM factory in China, and we’re now learning of a facelifted version of the vehicle that will arrive in 2024.
Buick is busy rolling out its first EV in China, but here in the U.S., we’re getting the brand's last new gas-powered vehicle. The 2024 Envista arrives to replace the Encore as Buick’s smallest SUV, bringing attractive styling and a more engaging driving experience than the tiny and not-so-Buick-like Encore.
Buick is an old nameplate, both in terms of how long the brand has existed and its perceived target market.
OK, the latter probably isn't true anymore and probably hasn't been for a while. Certainly, the brand's actual target market appears, at least based on recent TV ad campaigns, to be young-ish and attractive folks between the ages of 30 and 50.
Earlier this year, General Motors filed several trademark applications with model names ranging from Electra E1 to E9, suggesting that Buick would revive the iconic model name for future EVs. The automaker recently debuted the Electra E5 in China, its first vehicle to ride on GM’s Ultium platform and a potential preview of the models we could see here in the future.
Some have questioned why General Motors keeps Buick around since it seems like it’s not the most popular brand on America’s roads. What that view fails to consider, however, is that Buick is one of GM’s strongest brands in China, and earlier this month, the company’s president confirmed a new crossover would be coming for the country.
General Motors is reportedly making OnStar standard equipment for all new Buick, Cadillac, and GMC models. However, it's also been alleged that the company will be forcing customers of those brands into a three-year subscription for the "Connected Services Premium Plan" that'll cost roughly $1,500 and represent the latest example of how automakers are leveraging subscription fees to improve their overall profitability.
On Wednesday, Buick formally committed itself toward an “all-electric portfolio” by 2030 — saying that it would be embarking on a brand transformation that would fundamentally change the company forever. This includes an entirely new horizontally oriented badge that doesn’t stray too far from Buick’s traditional tri-shield design.
“The Buick brand is committed to an all-electric future by the end of this decade,” stated Duncan Aldred, global vice president, Buick and GMC. “Buick’s new logo, use of the Electra naming series and a new design look for our future products will transform the brand.”
We return to the Turbo-Hydramatic once more today, and our third installment sees us at a critical point in the timeline of the automatic transmission. Fuel economy pressure from the government and performance demands of the consumer increased considerably in the intervening years since the THM’s debut in 1964. That meant the creation of lighter, more compact, and cheaper versions of the Turbo-Hydramatic compared to its flagship shifter, the THM400. GM branched out into the likes of the THM350, THM250, and the very problematic THM200.
In 1987, GM stepped away from the traditional THM naming scheme and switched to a new combination of letters and numbers. Number of gears, layout, and strength combined to turn the THM400 into the 3L80. But the hefty gearbox was already limited by then to heavier truck applications; passenger cars moved on to four forward gears after the dawn of the Eighties.
During the bling-and-horsepower-crazed 1960s, The General’s Buick Division took the full-size B-Body platform, added a hot engine and flashy trim, and called it the Wildcat. Not many well-heeled grandfathers felt interested in doing land-yacht burnouts in the VFW parking lot, it turned out, so Wildcat sales ended after 1970… but a yearning for the glory days of the Wildcat must have inspired some Buick dealers to create their own Wildcats during the 1990s. Here’s one of those rare special-edition cars, found in a Denver-area self-service yard.
Our Abandoned History coverage of the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission series continues today. The THM was a singular solution to two different automatic transmissions in use by Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Buick in 1963. Turbo-Hydramatic arrived at a time of modernization for the automatic, which prior to the mid-Sixties was regarded as inefficient and less than smooth.
The THM400 was the 1964 replacement for the Hydra-Matic and Buick’s Dynaflow and established itself as a smooth and reliable gearbox. It proved useful in a variety of luxury and heavy-duty applications and shrugged off weight and torque easily. In short order, it took off as the transmission of choice for various small manufacturers outside of GM. However, no matter how excellent the THM400 was, it found itself squeezed by a drive toward greater fuel efficiency. It was also a bit hefty to be of broad use in smaller or lighter passenger cars. GM needed more Turbo-Hydramatics!
A few weeks ago, we concluded Abandoned History’s two-part coverage of the Chrysler UltraDrive transmission. Within the comments was a request for more transmission coverage of an equally abandoned nature. Let it be so! Come along as we discuss the vast automatically shifted expanse that was the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission family, by General Motors.
There has been much speculation over the past week regarding General Motors’ trademark application for a new Buick logo. Likely related to a swath of new EVs on the horizon (but not yet confirmed), the news fired up the old Abandoned History thought box. Why not take a look at all of Buick’s past logos? We began yesterday in 1903, and pick up today in 1942.
According to a recently filed trademark application, Buick’s familiar tri-shield logo may be going the way of the dodo. It’s been suggested the potential logo change is in pursuit of a revised image, in preparation for the Brave New World of EVs that Buick will soon unleash upon millions of eager customers. However, given the company has been around for over 120 years this is far from the first time Buick has swapped its badge.
Remember, not many years ago, when American car shoppers could choose among dozens of new Detroit sedans? For the 2006 model year alone, General Motors offered 12 different four-door sedans, and that’s ignoring sub-models plus the sedans bearing the badges of (GM-owned) Saab and Suzuki. Today, there are three new GM sedans available here, and both of the Cadillacs are built on the same platform as the Camaro. The Buick Division got out of the US-market sedan game when the final 2020 Regal rolled off Opel’s line in Rüsselsheim, but the very last proper full-sized Buick sedan was Hamtramck’s own Lucerne. I found this Northstar-equipped first-year Lucurne in a Colorado Springs yard last month.
We return to the saga of GM’s High Technology engine today, after taking a diesel detour in our last entry. Concurrent in the High Technology engine’s timeline, the Oldsmobile diesel’s failure was quick, but certainly not painless. It put the majority of American consumers off the idea of a passenger car equipped with a diesel engine. And by the time GM pulled the diesel from its various brand lineups, there was a strategy change over in HT4100 land: Not calling the engine HT anymore.
In today’s edition of Abandoned History, we return once more to the late Seventies engines of General Motors. After the disaster which was the V8-6-4 and the subsequent release of the quite flawed HT4100 V8, we take a sidestep today into diesel. Time for a turn with the cost-cut cast iron Oldsmobile oil burner that accompanied the troubled gasoline engines at GM dealerships across the country.
Today’s Rare Ride was a single-year offering at Buick; it came and went in 1958. As General Motors reworked its large car offerings that year in response to styling changes at one of its biggest competitors, it reintroduced a historical nameplate at Buick: Limited.
General Motors is hoping to re-up the Electra name for Buick as per a December filing with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO). While many of you will recall the model as another ho-hum sedan from the 1990s with the potential to be graced with a 3800 motor, the car actually dates back to a time where tailfins were all the rage and there was no such thing as too much chrome.
Though it’s unlikely that the name would be affixed to anything burning gasoline in the modern context. Buick has already shown an all-electric concept wearing the Electra name at the 2020 Beijing auto show and it would be the mother of all twists to snub it.
Buick was one of the major sponsors of the United States Olympic Team for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles— you know, the Games that got boycotted by the Evil Empire as payback for our boycott of the 1980 event— and the centerpiece of that sponsorship came in the form of a very special car: the 1984 Buick Century Olympia. We last saw one of these rare machines back in 2014, and now the Junkyard Find series returns with another, found in the San Francisco Bay Area a couple of months back.
Today’s Rare Ride represents the only time in history Buick built a two-seat car, and the only time a Buick had pop-up headlamps. It was also the last time Buick made a factory convertible in the United States, as the Opel Cascada wasn’t built domestically and was not a real Buick.
Let’s check out the Eighties low-volume experiment that was Reatta.
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.
As we’ve arrived at another edition of Thanksgiving in this, the Most Awesome Current Year, let’s celebrate with a very American Rare Ride. Today’s big boat was the pinnacle of the Buick brand in 1980. Full of acres of ruched velour and wood-look trim, the Park Avenue took Electra to new heights before the fancy name ever became an independent model.
Come along and enjoy American Luxury, even if it’s not an Oldsmobile.
The Buick Encore GX, a larger, unrelated Encore with fewer cylinders than you’re used to, quietly appeared in the brand’s stable just as “pandemic” became every newscast’s favorite word. Like its Chevrolet Trailblazer fraternal twin, the Encore GX boasts a more spacious body than its subcompact stablemate and a brace of three-pot engines designer for power and thrift.
While the little Encore has been Buick’s sales leader for years, the brand says that’s already changed. Still, there are no immediate plans to ditch the GX’s smaller namesake.
After writing about more than 2,000 discarded vehicles during the past 13 years, I haven’t found many legitimate machines from the Golden Age of the Detroit Muscle Car. I believe this era started with John DeLorean’s brilliant marketing of the 1964 Pontiac GTO and ended at some point during the 1972-1974 period, depending on how many beers you’ve consumed before beginning the debate about the edge-case vehicles.
Today’s car meets most of the requirements: a GM A-Body coupe with spiffy graphics, a thirsty big-inch V8 engine, and school-of-hard-knocks small chrome bumpers.
The General’s Buick division went all futuristic starting in the middle 1980s, hoping to win back (younger) American buyers who were switching their loyalty to high-tech European machinery at that time. The sleek Reatta two-seater came along in the 1988 model year, but the 1986 Riviera (and, to a lesser extent, the Somerset) were the first models to get the science-fiction touch.
Here’s a maximum-options Riviera T-Type coupe, which came with 800-way power seats and a touchscreen computer interface, spotted in a Silicon Valley self-serve yard last month.
Riviera. The mere mention of the name brings to mind visions of luxury. Perhaps of a CRT that glowed brightly on a stormy night, as your grandmother drove you home from a 4:55 p.m. dinner at Old Country Buffet. Or perhaps of the GM 3800 V6, maybe in elite supercharged form.
Today’s Rare Ride predates either of those anecdotes, and is special for a very different reason: It’s a last-of moment.
Like its Chevrolet division mate, Buick plans to spend the 2020 model year filling white space in its lineup, hauling the tweener Encore GX from overseas to plug the gap between the existing subcompact Encore and the larger Envision. Beneath its hood, however, the Encore GX is anything but larger — at least when displacement is concerned.
Once the Encore GX arrives, the Ford EcoSport won’t be the only domestic crossover available with a three-cylinder engine. In fact, the Encore GX will be the only crossover offered in America with a choice of triples. No four-bangers invited to this party at all.
Around these digital pages, Buick gets a bad rap. Some have negative connotations of Buick as an old person’s car (disclaimer, my paternal grandfather was a Buick man) or hold grudges simply because the brand was continued while Oldsmobile and Pontiac were killed off during the Great Recession (disclaimer, my father was an Oldsmobile man), seems few have good things to say about the division from Flint.
Disclaimer: I hate the theme music from Buick’s TV commercials.
Let’s make a deal, then. Let’s try and ignore the badges on this 2019 Buick Envision for a few minutes. Let’s evaluate this entry-level luxury crossover against the competition, rather than against whatever demons lurk within our collective subconscious.
Long before Opel became a donor for the badge-engineered Cadillac Catera and Buick Regal, the then GM-owned company shifted its own cars on North American soil. Today’s Rare Ride is a very early example of such a North American offering: It’s a two-door Rekord sedan from 1960.
We know, we know — you just wrapped up a lengthy and animated conversation about Buick with your coworkers, and you’re all Buicked out. Well, here’s something extra to chew on.
General Motors has filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for use of the name “Enspire” on motor vehicles. No, this doesn’t concern Chevrolet or Cadillac or GMC, that’s for sure. It does, however, concern Buick, as Enspire is the name given to a concept vehicle revealed last spring in China. But what would a production Enspire look like?
There are many things I don’t like about Los Angeles. The traffic, the cost of doing just about anything, the traffic, the sprawl, the traffic, the oversaturation of chain fast-food restaurants and billboards, the traffic.
However, there is one thing that makes me rethink my living situation. One thing that tempts me to move to the West Coast.
It’s not the weather, or the beach, or the chance at Hollywood stardom. It’s the roads.
The Buy/Drive/Burn series has ventured into unpopular cars territory a time or two before. Most recently we discussed three large American sedans that are most unpopular indeed (two of those three are now on their way out). Today we pick a Buy amongst three lower-volume midsize offerings from second-tier luxury brands.
We’d love to create our own reality, but it’s not achievable. Not while other people exist. I’d prefer a vehicular landscape populated with vinyl-topped sedans and formal personal luxury coupes and regular cab pickups, but alas, the personal buying choices of millions of consumers have stymied those childhood dreams.
With a few rare exceptions, coupes are now the domain of ballsy muscle cars, not front-drive compacts. Sedans were vanishing even before GM’s Monday decision to cull half-a-dozen four-door models. Fiat Chrysler said goodbye to the compact and midsize field a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, Ford has no plans to populate the roadways with anything other than the Mustang and a bevy of light trucks in the near future.
Sad times for lovers of the traditional car, for sure. Still, General Motors’ decision to shutter underperforming plants in pursuit of higher-margin light trucks (and whatever EV or AV action the future holds) shouldn’t come as a surprise. One look at historical sales figures shows the writing was on the wall for General Motors’ crop of soon-to-be-discontinued sedans.
But first, some Cyber Monday deals…!
Just kidding. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of that, God willing.
It didn’t take long for the usual suspects north of the border to respond to General Motors’ looming plant closures with ridiculous “solutions” — nationalizing GM Canada, for example, no doubt with the goal of repeating the successes of British Leyland in the late 70s and early 80s. Who could doubt the profit-generating prowess of the public sector?
Elsewhere, fiery rhetoric from autoworkers’ unions greeted news of GM’s plan to shutter five plants in the U.S. and Canada. But without new product allocations, and with demand for traditional sedans sinking fast, there’s little hope of seeing these facilities return to their golden days.
Heavy-duty streamlining has reached the production level at General Motors. After last night’s bombshell (though not unexpected) report claiming Canada’s oldest auto plant would cease operations late next year, more news is trickling out about the automaker’s production future.
Add Ohio and Michigan to the list of locales expected to lose an assembly plant.
A few months ago we selected a General Motors C-body from the three on offer in the mid-1990s, right at the end of the front-drive platform’s lifespan. Today’s trio is a variation on that theme, as suggested long ago by commenter Sgeffe.
He wanted to talk about rear-drive C-platform offerings — the full-size GMs available shortly before everything started going awry for the large sedan customer. Let’s go.
Images of the refreshed 2020 Buick LaCrosse have leaked, thanks to some help from an unsecured Chinese government website used in the certification process of upcoming models. Finally, bureaucratic screw-ups are working in our favor. While we’ve seen heavily camouflaged test mules in the past, this is our first uncovered look at the third generation LaCrosse’s refreshed bodywork. Alterations are meaningful but not overbearing.
The front end has been completely worked over, making the LaCrosse more closely resemble the Chevrolet Malibu. However, the changes were no doubt made to keep it in line with modern Buick models. Headlamps are slimmer, designed around the placement of the model’s enlarged grille, just like on the Enclave, while the taillights are pure Rega l. However, the LaCrosse carries just enough chrome to differentiate itself for those who like to pretend car spotting is a legitimate pastime.
The Buick Cascada, known to Europeans as the Opel Cascada, appeared on North American shores for the 2016 model year, offering buyers (and renters) a pleasant, four-seat replacement for the discontinued Chrysler 200 drop-top.
Now wholly owned by France’s PSA Group, not General Motors, Opel plans to ditch the model once 2019 is up, meaning America stands to lose its last non-sports car convertible. It would also knock the Buick brand down to five models.
General Motors joined the vast majority of its automotive colleagues in having a crappy sales month in September, posting an 11.1 percent year-over-year volume loss. The issues facing OEMs last month were many. As interest rates rise and the market cools, automakers looking to capture more for their coffers are trending towards reduced fleet sales and lowered incentive spending. Hurricanes also played something of a role.
At GM, which graces us with sales figures just four times a year, what was likely a poor showing in September dragged down the third quarter as well as year-to-date sales, with volume since the start of the year now down 1.2 percent. That doesn’t mean several GM models didn’t have good quarters, or haven’t had good 2018s. Some 18 models can boast of YTD sales gains.
Of those 18, however, just four are passenger cars, and one member of the group already has one and a half feet in the grave.
Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn setup comes to us via commenter 87 Morgan, who suggested the trio a while ago. For consideration today: Malaise Era transportation for upper middle-class families. These gigantic wagons served as family haulers before the minivan came along and ripped the sculpted carpet from under their feet.
What will it be — the Chrysler, the Mercury, or the Buick?
Buick’s pint-sized Encore is the brand’s biggest volume generator, accounting for 44 percent of all U.S. Buick sales in the first half of 2018. While hard to imagine for those who just stepped out of the time machine from 1975 (just think if the Skylark was the model holding up the brand), it’s nonetheless a reality we have to live with. Crossovers are king, and crossovers are what’s keeping Buick alive.
The division no doubt wants to keep it that way, which is why there’s an all-new Encore coming for the 2020 model year. Here’s our first glimpse.
Buick’s “highest expression of luxury” continues for the 2019 Regal Avenir, a model we recently examined. However, all anyone seemed to care about is how much those fancy plastics and fancier wheels would elevate the base model’s MSRP.
While the long answer involves an explanation that Buick is offering more than just a handful of trim pieces on the Avenir, the short answer is: roughly ten grand. Does it make sense? That depends on what you’re interested in. If it’s improved performance and all-wheel drive, then absolutely not. However, if you just want a more handsome car with some exclusive touches and a bunch of premium features bundled together, you might be interested in the Regal Avenir.
General Motors wants an exemption from a 25 percent U.S. tariff for the Buick Envision, the Chinese-made sport utility positioned between the Encore and Enclave. On Thursday, the automaker said it filed the request on July 30th with the U.S. Trade Representative to exclude the model from the prospective Section 301 tariff on products shipped from China.
The Envision hasn’t been a strong seller in the United States. While it managed to move 41,040 units in 2017, this year is not on track to meet that number. Obviously, the model has had some troubles. Early reviews were unfavorable, often accusing the Envision of being a faux luxury vehicle with an overly ambitious price tag. However, the manufacturer has since dropped the price and updated the vehicle for the 2019 model year.
Unfortunately, enough damage was dealt in those first two years to make the new model look less appetizing to customers. It now holds the stigma of an overpriced, Chinese-made compact crossover that falls short just about everywhere. It needs time to rebuild its image after the refresh, and it won’t be able to manage that if it is taxed into oblivion.
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- Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
- Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.
- Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
- Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
- Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.