Analysis: Where Would The Rumored Enspire Fit In The Buick Crossover Lineup?18
Over the last several months, we have reported on a possible new crossover model from GM’s Buick brand called Enspire.
In this exploratory piece, we discuss where the potential Buick Enspire could fit within the brand’s lineup, what vehicles it would compete with, potential pricing and other intricacies.
It All Starts With A Trademark Application
The speculation surrounding the Ensure name started when GM filed two trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office — one for Envision and the other for Enspire.
Now, we already know about the Envision: the compact crossover has been on sale in China for a year as of this writing, and is rumored to make its way to North America in the second half of 2016. But the Enspire is a different story, since GM has not shared any details on a vehicle by that name whatsoever.
Now, a trademark application doesn’t automatically confirm plans to launch a product — in this case, a vehicle — by that name. But trademark applicants no longer frivolously attempt to register trademarks “just to have it” due to a requirement to prove to the USPTO how the applicant will use the mark in a real-world product or service. Even more interesting is the fact that GM filed both trademark applications for Envision and Enspire on the same day. So, keep all that in mind as we continue.
Where Would Enspire Fit In The Lineup?
Currently, Buick has two crossovers in North America: the subcompact Encore and full-size Enclave. The vehicles are doing rather well in the marketplace: in the first ten months of the year, Encore sales are up 35 percent to 55,918 units while Enclave sales are up a less eyebrow-raising 1.6 percent to 51,487 units, a respectable amount considering the age of the Enclave (the crossover launched seven years ago in 2008).
We already know that the compact Envision will join the lineup in 2016 in North America and fill in the space between the tiny Encore and huge Enclave, leaving room for one more crossover of midsize proportions to slot between the Envision and Enclave.
|Segment:||Subcompact CUV||Compact SUV||Midsize CUV||Full-Size CUV|
|Current or potential Buick name:||Encore||Envision or Anthem||Enspire||Enclave|
|GM platform:||G2XX||D2XX||C1XX regular wheelbase||C1XX long wheelbase|
|Potential length (in / mm):||170 / 4318||180 / 4572||190 / 4826||205 + / 5207|
|Potential starting price:||$25,000||$30,000||$38,000||$45,000|
|Opel-Vauxhall equivalent:||Mokka||Next-generation Antara||Unknown||Rumored flagship CUV|
|Key Competitors Based On Size|
|Mercedes-Benz:||GLA-CLass||GLC-Class (GLK)||GLE-Class (ML)||GLS-Class (GL)|
|Lexus:||vehicle not offered||NX||RX||vehicle not offered (upcoming)|
|Acura:||vehicle not offered||RDX||MDX||vehicle not offered|
|Infiniti:||vehicle not offered||QX50||QX70||vehicle not offered|
|Volvo:||vehicle not offered||XC60||XC90||vehicle not offered|
|Lincoln:||vehicle not offered||MKC||MKX||vehicle not offered|
|Key Competitors Based On Price|
|Lexus:||None||NX||RX||vehicle not offered|
|Acura:||Potential Acura crossover based on Honda HR-V||RDX||MDX||vehicle not offered|
|Infiniti:||None||QX50||QX70||vehicle not offered|
|Volvo:||None||XC60||None||vehicle not offered|
|Lincoln:||vehicle not offered||MKC||MKX||Aviator (rumored)|
“Ok, the crossover market is hot and all, but is there really enough room for four crossovers?”, you might ask. And we’d say that there is. Let’s have a look at the U.S. crossover lines of some other luxury brands for the sake of perspective:
- Mercedes-Benz: currently has five crossover lines. Take out the niche-market G-Wagen luxury offroad, and you’re left with four lines of crossovers that expand to six models, when you consider “coupe” variants of the base crossovers. The range goes from subcompact (GLA-Class) to compact (GLC-Class, née GLK) to midsize (GLE-Class, née ML) and then to full-size (GLS-Class, née GL).
- Audi: currently has three crossover lines that are rumored to expand to four, not counting upcoming coupe variants.
- BMW: currently has three crossover lines that, with their coupe variants, expands to five crossovers. With the addition of the forthcoming full-size X7, that will grow to four lines and six models.
- Even Lexus, with its rather outdated body-on-frame GX and LX SUVs, has four utilities in the family, as does Infiniti.
So yes, there is room for four Buick crossovers, as long as they are positioned correctly.
Think of it this way: Buick currently has three car lines:
- Compact Verano
- Midsize Regal
- Full-size LaCrosse
Follow the ongoing alignment of Europe’s Opel-Vauxhall with Buick far enough into the future, and we can see a Buick version of the Opel Corsa arriving in the not-too-distant future. As such, the four-crossover strategy would simply emulate the Buick sedan lineup from subcompact to compact and from midsize to full-size.
Key Enspire Attributes
Were it up to us, we’d position the Enspire as a midsize luxury crossover with these key attributes:
- Midsize crossover with two rows of seating for five occupants
- Generous cargo space is a must, though a third row with for two additional passengers could be made optional at the expense of cargo room
- Exterior length of roughly 190 inches (4,830 mm)
- A healthy amount of standard features and high technology
- Priced to start in the high $30,000 (we’d shoot for the $38,000)
- Key rivals: Lexus RX, Acura MDX
- Based on upcoming midsize and full-size C1XX platform shared most directly with new Cadillac XT5
The vehicle would essentially be Buick’s version of the Cadillac SRX, which is about to be replaced by the 2017 Cadillac XT5.
The Sweet Spot
Talk to those who have shopped the Encore and Enclave but did not buy one, and you will hear things like, “One is way too small and the other is way too big”. With the compact Enspire and midsize Envision, Buick would essentially be covering the sweetspots of the crossover segment while leaving the Encore and Enclave to cover the more drastic outlying segments.
Enclave Moves Up… Way Up
Based on the Lambda platform, the full-size, three-row 2016 Enclave has a starting price of $39,065. But the Envision and speculated Enspire would allow the Enclave to move upmarket not only in equipment, features and refinement, but also in price, increasing Average Transaction Prices (ATPs) and attracting new, more affluent customers to the brand.
In addition to expanding the Buick lineup, the Buick Enspire would also give GM’s Opel-Vauxhall brands a much-needed crossover range outside of the Mokka, currently the brands’ only CUV after the Antara was discontinued in 2014. The brands are rumored to get some crossovers jointly developed with Peugeot-Citroen, but those will only last for a single generation, if that.
For those uninitiated on Buick’s relationship with Opel-Vauxhall, GM is aligning the three brands into a pseudo-global marque.
Ultimately, the four-crossover strategy of Encore, Envision, Enspire, Enclave would allow GM and Buick to accomplish several objectives:
- Reach a significantly larger luxury car audience at the sweet spot of the crossover segments
- Increase unit sales volume
- Grow Average Transaction Prices (ATPs) to an an all-time high
- Compete directly in the biggest segments with its true market rivals, most notably Lexus and Acura
- Pump much-needed crossover products into Opel-Vauxhall product lines
We envision the Buick USP (unique selling proposition) of approachable/attainable premium/luxury vehicles to continue shining through this proposed four-crossover strategy by offering more for a bit less, while Cadillac takes the prestige luxury space.
But as academic as we can make it, all things related to the rumored Buick Enspire are simply speculation at this point, and we’ll just have to wait and see if any of this becomes a reality.
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…talk about increasing Buick’s already respectable conquest share of women customers, this would spike those numbers considerably. Throw in the Eve (I mean, Adam) and you close the loop!
The Lexus RX350 is a top seller for Toyota , it actually started the craze . And they are known as having an excellent reputation for quality . If done right Buick should go after that segment of the market , Buick is also fairing well in the quality sense of the business . Could the Enspire be an all electric model to go toe to toe with the Lexus NX300 ?
Cadillac wishes it had the reputation that Buick has right now . It would help out Cadillac to have a division to take on the domestic market and let Cadillac focus more on the ultra-luxury segment . But the image needs to be worked on for Cadillac to take on that market . Buick just needs to keep doing what they have been .
Enclave is too big, because it is Full-size SUV, for Europe or Opel, so mid-size Enspire (or whatever it will be called by Buick), could be the flagship SUV for Opel. In that class are Sorento, Santa Fe, Toureg etc. It will be on the same platform as Insignia B maybe longer (C1XX is derivative of E2XX), so could be produced in Russelsheim.
While it may seem nuts to build 4 crossovers, this is the approach which is needed and it’s no different than what auto companies did years ago with cars; the only thing wrong is that this is what General Motors needed to do a 4-5 years ago and Buick isn’t alone as this is something Chevy, GMC and Cadillac will need to follow also as the days of having a single mid-size and full-size SUV/CUV is over.
“The vehicle would essentially be Buick’s version of the Cadillac SRX, which is about to be replaced by the 2017 Cadillac XT5.”
The XT5 would’ve made the perfect Buick Enspire. Unfortunately that’s why it can’t exist. Here’s why:
-Buick’s Pricing Strategy- The XT5 already competes with the Lexus RX, I expect it to in price. Because of it’s drive layout, Cadillac can’t target the German midsize segment without driving away customers, therefore it’s locked in the Lexus RX/ Acura MDX range, therefore the Buick has no room to price the Enspire. That value proposition is already made by the XT5.
-Cadillac’s Image- As much as we like the looks of the XT5, people are already seeing the GM-ness in the design. If the Enspire were to be released, we can expect the XT5 to be seen as nothing more than a gussied-up Enspire. That’s why I expect De Nysschen and the other Caddy executives to protest and rightfully so. The XT5 is expected to have the greatest sales figures of the Cadillac lineup. It would be a disaster for such an overlap to exist in such ubiquitous numbers.
-Overlap- Speaking of overlap, if the Enspire were to exist alongside the XT5, the XT5 buyers would naturally gravitate toward the Enspire. That spells big trouble for Cadillac.
I think that the XT5 can co-exist with a possible Enspire if and only if Cadillac starts to expand into other crossover areas, and does so quickly… that means Alpha-based compact CUV, Alpha-based midsize CUV, Omega-based full-size CUV. The XT5 will be flanked and the brand would have product, making it less reliant on the XT5.
Here’s to hoping this can happen within the next 2-3 years, because if it doesn’t, Cadillac will be very far behind in the crossover space.
If your scenario plays out, I can see the XT5 being a X2 competitor. Unfortunately, the naming suggests that will be Cadillac’s main midsize CUV. The RWD-based CUV lineup is the ideal scenario. I knew the XT5 would be the XTS of the crossover lines.
The line up for Buick is fine with this addition. It slots in just perfect in their line up. The CUV market is just crazy now and this will just add to the profits.
Now here is where the problem lies. What does most Buick dealers have? GMC. The Terrain is where the major problem is going to be. The Enclave is more expensive than the Large GMC crossover and much different. Price wise can Buick slot their model in over the Terrain and not step on the XT5. That is where the real issue is.
Can they price the Buick over an Denali and under the XT5? lets watch and see.
I think the answer to all that isn’t price, but styling and brand.
Driving a GMC should mean something completely different than driving a Buick. Driving a GMC should look completely different and give off a completely different image than driving a Buick. Not that one should be or is better than the other, but rather that It should portray a different image
Much easier said than done.
My point is how many vehicles do you really need in one segment in the same dealer in the same size and nearly the same price with the same options on the same platform?
Many dealers are Buick GMC Cadillac and why style will get you so far you have to watch the over lap. GM had issue on this in the past.
I know and understand the CUV market is hot but you really need to watch as it could end up robbing the same dealers that it could benefit.
Style is easy to change Image is tougher. Also Buick and Cadillac are generally see as similar in class yet by too many and you can not move the XT5 up too far as you have more CUV models to come.
If in the same dealer and given the Cadillac is only a few thousand more what do you think most buyers would choose?
This is not a fatal flaw but it is something that needs to be watched close and managed much better than GM has in the past.
In the past the Chevy, GMC and Cadillac all had very different looks and feel to them in some way that would give customer polarized thinking on the product. Most people who bought the Terrain were not Nox fans and neither could afford the SRX unless it was gutted. Now with the Denali over $40K the Buick in this segment too and the XT 5 with in reach price wise this is not ideal.
You want these models to compliment not compete with each other. It can be done but it will bear watching to see if they manage it well. Get greedy and you can pay a price. Been there and seen that for decades.
I disagree. The Buick and GMC models can and should compete with each other. It can be the same vehicle underneath with an entirely different body/top hat, and both would affect very different audiences. That’s the benefit you get from having another brand. And that’s what Hyundai and Kia do so very well. Ultimately, interns competition improves the product, properly aligns brands, and defines the path of each individual vehicle.
Opel is officialy planning to build a new falgship beside the Insignia by 2019 or so. Mary Barra and KTN have announced this car last year and again on the Frankfort motorshow this year. This car will be a crossover/SUV which will be built in Russelsheim plant. I am sure, if this Enspire will become real, it will be based on this Opel falgship.
OMG more station wagons!!! The corny CUV craze!
GMC is the real problem. Terrain would have been hobbled had it Enspire arrived early.
GMC must go butch, avoid the Jeep brand mainstream trap if Buick is to expand.
This article forgets that Buick snd GMC are a hyperbrand in the USA.
Don’t forget that GMC only exists in some markets, and is pretty small when you consider the opportunity in China.
All in all, GMC and Buick should be able to stand separately with the same lineup of crossovers, just based on design and brand. Just like they have been with Acadia and Enclave.
That said, GMC really needs to go even more butch than it is now.
I agree, the Enspire will fit in if GM increases the cargo area over the Envision which is too small for luggage . A turbo ,front wheel and all wheel availability and good gas mileage will help Buicks lineup Most of all it must be built in AMERICA showing the Red, White & Blue nameplate . With that said , one could be in our garage .
Could one of these be the new EV platform, slightly larger and more powerful than the Bolt, that could handle AWD? If so I’m listening, otherwise no, pass.