In 2008 I thought Buick should be sent to the chopping block. Its vehicles were aged, staid, not exciting, and overly bland for the tastes of most young Americans.
Yet instead of discontinuing the Buick brand, GM thought it would be more beneficial to send Pontiac packing. Pontiac was just beginning to get its chops back thanks to the beautifully crafted G8 GXP, but it died at the hands of a bankrupt GM that desperately needed to reorganize.
And reorganize it did. Here we are in 2016 and Buick is not only still here, it’s becoming a real player in the affordable luxury market.
This year we have three Buicks in particular to thank for that, though only two will likely be available for purchase.
The most striking Buick, probably ever, debuted at the NAIAS this week. The Avista is a concept coupe that takes everything we knew about Buick and tosses it out the window. This Buick is sleek and sexy. It’s part Aston Martin, part Tesla Model S, and part Cadillac ATS-V. The coupe features a 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission on a rear-wheel-drive platform.
It shares a platform with the Chevy Camaro and the ATS, but likely won’t make it into production. Why not? Well, because the Camaro and ATS-V already exist. GM has a good selection in the sports car market and doesn’t need the Avista cannibalizing sales or infringing on Cadillac’s territory.
Plus, there’s the fact that Buick already released the Cascada. While not nearly as striking or as powerful as the Avista, the little Cascada has some good things going for it. It looks like a cross between a Volkswagen and a Chrysler, but once you get past that, you’ll find a fun convertible that is powered by a 1.6-liter turbo four that makes 200 hp. Power is sent to the front wheels by way of a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment, at a price of about $33,000, includes 20-inch wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a backup camera, remote engine start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats, heated front seats and steering wheel, and HID headlights and LED taillights. The fabric soft top can retract in just 17 seconds and at speeds of up to 31 mph. The Cascada seems like a smart move.
If the Avista is Buick’s sexiest car ever, and the Cascada is one of its smartest, then the Envision is the most controversial.
The crossover SUV will be the first vehicle made in China and imported for sale in the United States. The U.S. version will have all-wheel drive and feature a 252-hp 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The SUV will be available for purchase this summer. Pricing and fuel-economy numbers have not yet been released.
Which Buick would you prefer, the Avista, Cascada, or Envision?