General Motors intends to idle five of its North American manufacturing facilities in 2019 as part of its most recent restructuring plan. One of the factories scheduled to be shuttered is the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is where Buick’s full-size LaCrosse sedan is built.
The move will leave the Tri Shield brand with just two non-crossover models in its lineup – the Regal and the Cascada. To be fair, the current Buick Regal lineup includes the sedan-like Regal Sportback model, its high(er) performance Regal GS variant, as well as the Regal TourX – a ruggedized wagon. But just how long the Regal will remain in Buick’s North American lineup is a big uncertainty.
That’s because the Regal is manufactured in Germany as part of a contractual agreement with Opel, which GM sold to PSA Group in 2017. So if the Regal were to, for one reason or another, be discontinued in the near future in much the same way as the LaCrosse, then Buick would become a brand comprised exclusively of crossover SUVs. That’s a strange new reality for an automotive brand that built its reputation on exclusively making large, comfortable sedans, ones that (arguably) coined the term “couch on wheels”.
Here’s a brief overview of the turn of events that have led to this turn of events.
|North America:||Not Available||Discontinued after 2017 MY||Contractually assembled py PSA in Germany, future uncertain||Discontinued after 2019 MY, no 2020 refresh|
|China:||All-new model introduced in 2018||Gets second-gen model, expected to continue past 2020 MY||Assembled locally in China, expected to continue past 2020 MY||Continues into 2020 MY, gets 2020 MY refresh|
It all started with the Buick Verano – a compact sedan that Buick introduced in 2011 as a 2012 model. This well-received compact sedan of premium-luxury aspirations, which shared its capable Delta II platform with Chevrolet Cruze and Opel-Vauxhall Astra, was enjoyed by its owners for being quiet, refined and generally tasteful. The Verano Turbo offered more spirited performance via an athletic suspension and a 2.0L turbo-charged engine.
Sales Results - USA - Verano
The Buick LaCrosse is the largest Buick sedan. The current model was introduced for the 2017 model year on the extended-length E2 platform. It is getting a refresh for the 2020 model year (as the 2020 Buick LaCrosse), but due to GM’s decision to unallocate the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, the full-size sedan will be discontinued before the refreshed model launches, meaning that North America won’t even get the updated model.
The updated, full-size sedan will go on sale in China early this year, with updates to exterior design and various technology upgrades.
Sales Results - USA - LaCrosse
As we mentioned previously, the discontinuation of the LaCrosse leaves Buick with just three passenger cars: the Regal sedan-like Sportback, the ruggedized Regal TourX wagon, as well as the dedicated Buick Cascada convertible. The future of the Regal does not necessarily seem bright, while the Cascada is pretty much done for, with the impending discontinuation of the Opel-Vauxhall equivalent.
As such, we can assume that the Cascada will be discontinued in the very near future, and that the Regal range might get the ax in the medium-term future. Though neither GM nor Buick have confirmed this potential turn of events, this potential scenario would leave Buick without a single passenger car in its North American lineup (Buick sedans will continue be offered in China). So with that in mind, let’s now have a look at Buick’s remaining, crossover-only lineup.
|Size:||Subcompact||Compact||Full-Size||Compact MPV||Full-Size MPV|
|North America:||Continues into second-gen for 2020 MY, imported from Korea||Continues into 2020 MY, imported from China||Continues into 2020 model year, made locally||Not Available||Not Available||All-new model launched in 2017||All-new model launched in 2016|
|China:||Continues into second-gen for 2020 MY, made locally||Continues into 2020 MY, made locally||Not Available|
The Buick Encore is a subcompact crossover that launched for the 2013 model year. Riding on the GM Gamma 2 platform shared with the Chevrolet Trax, the Encore slots below the Envision as Buick’s smallest CUV.
Notably, the Encore is Buick’s first-ever offering in the subcompact (B segment) crossover segment. A mid cycle refresh was introduced for the 2017 model year, and the model received several changes including capless fuel fill, cabin air ionizer, a new exterior color, and various package-level modifications. The 2019 Encore received two new exterior paint colors and a new Safety Package. The 2019 model is expected to be the last iteration of the first-gen Encore, with an all-new, second-generation model coming for the 2020 model year (see more on 2020 Buick Encore).
Sales Results - USA - Encore
The Buick Envision is a compact crossover that slots above the subcompact Buick Encore. The current, first-generation Envision was introduced for the 2016 model year. It is based on a variant of the GM D2 platform that is shared with the second-generation Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Cruze, and Chevrolet Volt. The model, which is made in China, was caught up in the most recent international spat between the U.S. and China surrounding trade.
The 2019 Envision got a mid-cycle refresh that includes a wide range of changes, including revised exterior styling, new exterior and interior color options, several new technology features like wireless cell phone charging.
Sales Results - USA - Envision
The full-size Buick Enclave is the brand’s largest crossover. The first-generation model was introduced for the 2008 model year. It was on sale for ten years before receiving a complete overhaul for the 2018 model year.
The all-new Enclave features exterior design that’s more modern and visually lower and slimmer body, with more third-row space, improved towing capability, and a wide selection of active safety features technologies and convenience tech. A refresh is expected for the 2021 model year.
Sales Results - USA - Enclave
Future Buick Models
Besides Buick’s current three crossover models, we have reason to believe that the brand is working on three new crossovers, two of which will make their way to North America. We will outline those future Buick crossovers in a subsequent article.