The Car Guide is off to California this week to test drive a trio of new models from Buick. It’s a pretty big deal since the brand is traditionally known for doling out new products and innovations. Actually, it’s unprecedented. Buick is accelerating development in an effort to boost sales.
A number of experts within the auto industry predicted Buick’s demise following the major restructuring at General Motors back in 2008. Pontiac was axed, just like Saturn, but somehow Buick remained alive. Its popularity in China—a huge market for GM—is a key reason why.
- Also: Buick Envision making its way to North America in 2016
- Also: 2017 LaCrosse 'introduces new face of Buick'
Two SUVs and a sedan
The first of these three new Buick models happens to come from China. The 2017 Envision is a five-passenger compact luxury SUV taking on the likes of the Acura RDX, Lincoln MKC and Lexus NX. It has been sold in China for more than a year, and now lands in North America with a single powertrain option, namely a 252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a dual-clutch all-wheel drive system. The latter is a brand new technology at Buick, designed to improve handling in all driving conditions.
The 2017 LaCrosse, meanwhile, features a new design inspired by the Buick Avenir concept from last year. Slightly roomier than the outgoing generation, the new LaCrosse will compete in the slow-selling, full-size sedan segment against the Chrysler 300 and Nissan Maxima, just to name a few.
Last but not least is the Buick Encore, which gets a minor facelift for 2017 in hopes of putting up a better fight in the small SUV segment. Based on the Chevrolet Trax, the noble Encore stands out with a more refined and quieter cabin, not to mention a smoother ride.
Buick’s challenge, obviously, is to revitalize its model lineup and, more importantly, project a more youthful image in order to attract new customers. It will take years to change the way car buyers perceive Buick, and it starts with the right products.
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