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.
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.
Contrary to previous reports, the Buick Encore will not be replaced by a slightly larger, China-sourced crossover. Instead, Buick plans to supplement the subcompact Encore’s healthy sales by slotting a new model alongside it: the Encore GX.
Appearing early next year for the 2020 model year, the Buick Encore GX fills the space between the Encore and the compact Envision. Expect its price to bridge the gap, too.
Buick’s smallest model might not be what most TTAC readers want to see in their driveway, but it’s nonetheless popular with the American buying public. The subcompact Encore is by far the brand’s best-selling vehicle, making up nearly half of Buick’s sales volume. We’ll probably see a next-generation model debut later this year or early next.
What buyers won’t find when they check the coming year’s offering is the availability of an uplevel engine, however. For 2020, the hotter of the two turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinders vanishes from the Encore line, and it probably won’t be missed.
General Motors’ best-selling Buick, the subcompact Encore, has a new face and body — and also a sibling. Both vehicles, each carrying the Encore name, saw the light of day Monday at Auto Shanghai, but only one will grace dealerships on this side of the Pacific.
The pint-sized Buick Encore subcompact crossover came to China in 2012, and, judging by the photo directly above, the launch of an updated model in 2016 was a splashy affair, indeed.
Back in the days when General Motors was looking to rapidly grow its market share in the world’s largest car market, Chinese and American Encores shared the same underpinnings, engines, and (for the most part) bodies. That’s about to change, and now we have a glimpse of the 2020 Chinese-market Encore ahead of the launch of an American-market model.
Wanna bet the Chinese are getting the looker of the two?
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.
As you might imagine, nobody at Buick is keen for me to review their cars lately. It’s a shame, because there’s not necessarily a correlation between the quality of the cars that bear the “Buick” logo and the failure of the Buick business model in the United States (to recap, move Encore and Enclave to GMC, kill the rest of the brand with fire).
But no matter — we have access to our own Buick, thanks to the lovely Luisa and the Encore Preferred she recently leased. So I decided to put a few hundred miles behind the wheel of the
Opel Mokka Encore and give you guys the lowdown.
Spoiler alert: it’s not terrible. In fact, for the price, it’s downright good. Click the jump for more.
The second quarter of 2018 returned pleasing sales figures for General Motors, but there were no champagne corks popping over Buick’s performance. While GM’s sales rose 4.6 percent compared to Q2 2017 (and 4.2 percent year-to-date), Buick sales headed in the opposite direction — down 12 percent in the quarter, and roughly six-tenths of one percent over the first half of the year.
Swirling menacingly in the background of all of this is a threat from President Trump to levy a 25 percent tariff on all automotive imports, a move that would leave Buick especially exposed. As numbers crunched by Automotive News show, the only thing sparing the brand from an emergency overhaul, should such a scenario come to pass, is a subcompact crossover — one which may or may not be exempt from the proposed tariffs.
Welcome back to Buick Death Watch! It’s been a long time; we shouldn’t have left you without a strong tale of sales woe to complain about. And just like the Jesus of the New Testament, we’re going to start our tale with a parable.
Once there was a young woman from a faraway land in the south, and she wanted to buy her very first car. She drove cars from lands far and wide, including the Orient and the Land of Cortez. When she drove the Tiny Crossover of Three Shields, she found it to be the best of them all, for it was cloaked in leather and CarPlay, and its motor held the charge of turbines within its soul.
But the moneychangers in the Temple of Finance were not pure of heart. They offered her many baubles, and some of them were tricks of the devil himself — rebates for students of the Word of False Prophets, owners of cars from other lands, and more. The young woman did not qualify for any of these, but the moneychangers were devious, and they promised them to her anyway. And, lo, they delivered, giving her a total of $6,250 in rebates, but only if she would sign the parchment by the second day of the fourth moon. Thus, the woman drove away in the crossover, relinquishing nothing but $200 a month for the next three harvests.
Click the jump and I’ll tell you why all of this means Buick is hosed.
March 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Ford EcoSport Still Climbing, but so Are Other Mainstream Subcompact Crossovers
The Ford EcoSport, a new (to North America) subcompact crossover hastily inserted at the bottom of the Blue Oval’s lineup, went on sale in January of this year. No TTACer who sat in the vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit walked away impressed, and it was odd to see a new model introduction go without the obligatory first drive event.
Still, the vehicle, which starts at a hair under 20 grand and carries a 1.0-liter three-cylinder as a base powerplant, isn’t being ignored by the buying public. March EcoSport sales in the U.S. topped that of the well-regarded — but not especially capacious — Mazda CX-3. Still, as all things truck continue to garner ever greater market share in the U.S., the little Ford faces a difficult upward climb.
Small crossovers are a natural fit for a brand that sells not a single passenger car, but GMC has been sorely lacking in smaller utility vehicles for much of its tenure.
The first-generation GMC Terrain, something of a tweener-sized utility vehicle, didn’t arrive until 2009. For its predecessor, General Motors decided to concentrate attention on its Pontiac brand, which resulted in the oft-forgotten Torrent.
But down another rung on the ladder sits subcompact utility vehicles. GMC brand boss Duncan Aldred says General Motors’ all-light-truck division “should have been first in the segment.” Instead, the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax generate 13,000 monthly U.S. sales, thereby controlling America’s subcompact crossover category.
GMC? On the sidelines, waiting for the next generation of GM subcompacts to spawn a crossover for the very brand that should have had one in the first place.
It was to be called the Monza.
GM Europe expected to assemble the Opel Insignia-based SUV, roughly the size of the Ford Edge, right alongside the Opel Insignia at its Rüsselsheim, Germany, assembly plant. Which is in Rüsselsheim.
But development of the so-called Monza was either lost in the shuffle or used as a bargaining chip, depending on whom you ask, when Groupe PSA (Peugeot and Citroën) announced the $2.3-billion purchase of its European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. Now it appears the Monza project is suspended, according to AutoExpress, as PSA decides to “freeze all GM-related projects.”
What’s it mean for Buick?
You’re about to read a review of the 2017 Buick Encore Premium AWD, and you’re quite possibly well aware of the criticism the Encore has endured here at The Truth About Cars.
Meanwhile, the Encore has appeared on my personal list of the eight vehicles I don’t want to own for four consecutive years.
Building good small cars is hard. It turns out, building good small SUVs — we can call them subcompact crossovers — based on those small cars can be just as challenging. That doesn’t mean Buick got the Chevrolet Sonic-based Encore all wrong. Refreshed for 2017, the Buick Encore has some redeeming qualities.
Would I buy one? At $35,825, you can’t be serious. But I’m beginning to understand why your mother might want an Encore.
“Buick revealed its Cascada convertible, an elegant four-seater that will go on sale in the USA in the first quarter of 2016. This marks another example of the two brands’ successful collaboration, which already includes the jointly-developed Buick Encore and Opel Mokka, the Buick Verano and Opel Astra notchback as well as the Buick Regal and Opel Insignia,” proclaimed Opel in January 2016, just ahead of the Cascada’s reveal in Detroit.
One paragraph. Four products that intrinsically link Opel and Buick.
It’s no surprise, then, that General Motors’ possible sale of Opel to Peugeot has those in and out of the RenCen wondering: What of Buick?
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- SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
- El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
- Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.
- Dusterdude The Detroit 2.5 did a big disservice by paying their CEO’s so generously ( overpaying them ) It is a valid talking point for for the union ) However , the bottom line - The percentage of workers in the private sector who have a defined benefit pension plan is almost non existent - and the reason being is it’s unaffordable ! . This is a a huge sticking point as to have lower tier workers join would be prohibitive ( aside from other high price demands being requested - ie >30% wage gain request ) . Do the math - can a company afford to pay employees for 35 years , followed by funding a pension for a further 30 years ?
- El scotto Human safety driver? Some on here need a human safety thinker.