Buick is oldest active U.S. marque.
The first Buick was manufactured in Detroit in 1903. It also was the first brand for General Motors, formed in 1908, and it took a backseat in reputation only to Cadillac, which GM acquired in 2009.
Rumored to be on its way out, Buick has made a stunning comeback the last 10 years. To keep the momentum going, Buick has eliminated production of sedan, to focus on the more popular utility vehicles. At the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, visitors will see its newest — the Encore GX.
“Our strategy is a direct result of listening to both our current customer base and our potential base,” explained Stuart Fowle, communications manager for Buick. “Drivers want SUVs, not sedans. Last model year, our sedan sales were only 10% of our total sales in the USA. The decision was really made for us, and we were responsive to the wants and needs of our customers.”
Buick currently markets the Encore, Envision, and Enclave — with Encore GX arriving in showrooms early this year.
“The GX is not a model of the Encore,” Fowle said. “We decided to use the Encore name because of its popularity in America. But make no mistake, the Encore GX is an entirely different machine.”
The 2020 Encore GX sits between the Encore and Envision. The GX is longer and wider than the Encore, providing 5 cubic feet of extra room that customers requested. “The Encore GX fills a need between a compact SUV and a full-size one like the Envision,” Fowle said.
The technology in Encore GX is cutting edge, according to Fowle. “The GX offers much more in terms of cameras, driver-assisted safety features, and a heads-up display for the driver,” he said.
Encore GX will come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning. Buyers can also add the Rear Camera Mirror, which lets you switch between a conventional rearview mirror and a backup camera display, as well as a surround-view camera system.
“The Encore GX also introduces a new level of refinement to the Buick SUV line.” That refinement includes a newer dose of Buick's latest design language, with the interior looking a little closer to Regal or Enclave. Inside, the design from the current Encore clearly factored into the Encore GX, but some surfaces including the area around the climate controls have been freshened.
For the gearhead, Encore GX offers a 1.2-liter turbo or 1.3-liter turbo 3-cylinder engine. The former produces 137 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft of torque while the latter produces 155 hp and 174 lb.-ft of torque. Both will be mated to a continuously variable transmission with front-wheel-drive and a 9-speed automatic with all-wheel drive. GM estimates the larger engine will achieve up to 31 mpg combined.
Though the Buick website presents two concept cars, the Avenir and the Avista, there are no sports sedans in the immediate future.
“At this time, Buick has no plans to reintroduce sedans or coupes to the U.S. market,” Fowle said. “The Avenir and the Avista are purely conceptual models that provide a platform for Buick to test out new ideas. This is similar to how Buick never offered the Y-Job concept car in 1938, but used several ideas for models in the 1940s and '50s.”
Buick used Avenir to create trim packages on the Enclave. “The trim packages have been named the Avenir option,” Fowle said. “It’s a place for our design engineers to try out unique concepts based on customer feedback.”