The tri-shield badge is now one of only four remaining GM divisions, of which as many as three-dozen existed throughout the automaker’s storied history. At the moment, Buick is positioned between the volume brand Chevrolet and the luxury division Cadillac, whereas GMC stands aside with a more specialized offering consisting exclusively of SUVs and trucks. Buick’s sales figures correspond to the division’s stature within the GM range. At 219,231 sold vehicles in the U.S. during 2017, they’re way off the mark of Chevrolet’s 2 million, but still in front of Cadillac’s 150,000. In fact, Chevy sells more vehicles in Canada than Buick does in the U.S. That’s not the whole picture, though, as Buick managed to market north of 1.4 million vehicles on a global scale during the same year. As you can probably guess, most of their sales come from the rapid-growing Chinese market where they’ve pushed exactly 1,223,517 cars in 2017. But what does the future hold for the venerable brand? What about the 2019 Buick models?
For starters, things can only improve for Buick, which has finally consolidated its sales at a level north of 200,000 units in the U.S. since 2013. Furthermore, their unique position of strength in the Chinese market allows them to continue pushing the limits which will evidently remain to be the case going forward. Finally, the tri-shield badge has finally discarded the pensioner’s car label by offering a more contemporary and diverse vehicle range aimed mostly at a younger population. This strategy has already paid dividends for Cadillac, and will undoubtedly serve its purpose for the Buick lineup as well. You might also notice the disappearance of the Buick name badge from most of the 2019 lineup. They’re consolidating their domestic models with overseas (read Chinese) units which never even had the lower-left tailgate lettering in the first place. Here’s what you might consider buying when it comes to Buicks in 2019, and what you might want to steer clear of.
What’s Hot In the New 2019 Buick Lineup
03. 2019 Envision
With 41,040 units sold in the U.S. during 2017, the compact Envision stands out as the automaker’s third best-selling vehicle behind the smaller Encore and the larger Enclave. Introduced during MY 2016, it’s also the youngest of all currently available U.S. market Buick cars around. Despite that, the tri-shield division decided to treat it with a mild mid-cycle redesign that brings just enough to the table to make the compact crossover appealing enough for it to take the next step forward. The fact the new Buick Envision is exactly $2,000 cheaper than the outgoing 2018 version should be more than helpful as well. The new styling incorporates the already mentioned loss of the typical rear tailgate Buick lettering, a heavily redesigned rear section, and a new horizontal bar in the car’s grille.
The base 2.5L 4-cylinder engine carries over with the same 197 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, which is routed either to the front or all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Available only with the Active Twin Clutch all-wheel drive system and on the top Premium and Premium II trim levels is a stronger 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Instead of the 260 lb-ft of torque its predecessor made, the 2019 Buick Envision manages to squeeze out as much as 295 lb-ft from the same engine, courtesy of an all-new 9-speed automatic gearbox. The horsepower rating remains steady at 252 ponies, however. Aside from the aforementioned changes, the new Buick Envision sports a number of small tweaks all over, and these, too, should help it gain more momentum on the market in the following three or so years. As things stand right now, the Envision is definitely something you’d want to consider when it comes to Buick in 2019.
02. 2019 Enclave
The all-new second-generation Enclave made its debut during MY 2018 which means the 2019 Buick Enclave probably won’t feature that many changes, and certainly no drastic ones. Considering how the then-full-size SUV’s sales figures had dropped from around 62,000 units in 2014 and 2015 to as little as 48,564 units in 2017, that was undoubtedly the right move. The second-generation Buick Enclave also grew a couple of inches overall but manages to look much trimmer than its outdated predecessor. It has its sharp-looking and tasteful new design to thank for that. Despite sporting an abundance of space inside, the third row of seats is still rather cramped – especially for three passengers. Moreover, the new Enclave still suffers from a few cheap-looking bits and pieces, but is still very much an improvement compared to the outgoing model.
Interestingly, the all-new Buick Enclave has kept its predecessor’s 3.6L V6 engine, though the new unit now develops 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque compared to the first-generation’s 288 hp and 270 lb-ft. The new Enclave also boasts an all-new 9-speed automatic gearbox instead of the outdated 6-speed counterpart. This new piece of the drivetrain puzzle and a 600-rpm-lower torque peak render the large Buick SUV more drivable and efficient at the same time. It’s now rated at 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway in the front-wheel drive config, whereas the all-wheel drive drops both figures by a point. Its predecessor, on the other hand, was rated at 15/22 mpg regardless of the configuration choice. Prices start at the $40,000 mark or thereabouts for the entry-level front-wheel-drive models, whereas the top-of-the-line Avenir trim with all-wheel drive costs almost $57,000.
01. 2019 Regal GS
The Buick Regal name has been synonymous with performance since the mid-eighties thanks to the fabled Buick Regal Grand National and the iconic GNX. At the same time, the conventional second-generation Buick Regal was the first to feature a production turbocharged Buick V6 engine. Fast forward four decades and the Buick Regal badge still serves as a front for the division’s other nature – the performance one, which Buick has been known for since the early days. Despite playing an extremely important role in American performance car world, some of the fastest Buick models throughout the years have been unjustly forgotten. The 2019 Buick Regal GS is arguably the worthiest successor to the iconic GNX of all previous Regal GS versions. Not only does it offer the most power, but throws an adaptive suspension, bigger brakes, and all-wheel drive with torque vectoring into the mix.
Speaking of the Regal GS’ power, its 3.6L V6 engine produces as much as 310 horses and 282 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful production Buick cars of all time. This time, however, the engine in question comes without forced induction. It’s also mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission which, in true performance car fashion, shifts quickly and effortlessly. The upcoming Buick Regal GS might lack the agility and handling of its German competitors, but at $39,000, it’s also miles off the competition’s price tags. Even fully upgraded models won’t break the bank which gives the Regal GS extremely good value for money. Some might find an issue in its Euro-inspired fastback styling, but I found it quite to my liking, and I suspect I’m not alone here. The Buick Regal GS is definitely the one to keep your eyes on when it comes to new Buick models.
What’s Not In the New 2019 Buick Lineup
04. 2019 Encore
The 2019 Buick Encore is available for slightly north of $23,000, but it doesn’t differ at all from the 2018 model. Moreover, it rides on the GM Gamma II platform which dates back to the millennium. The Encore itself has been derived from the European Opel Mokka crossover which also served as a role model for the Chevy Trax. Despite being somewhat outdated, the subcompact Encore is, somewhat surprisingly, the company’s best-selling model in the U.S. with a healthy 88,035 units marketed during 2017 – almost triple the number compared to the Encore’s inaugural year of 2013. This trend might be coming to its end now, since the subcompact is likely in its last pre-generation switch year. More the reason to sit out on it and wait for the update even though it’s obviously been drawing huge crowds due to its numerous qualities.
One of the segments where the Encore fails to deliver is the powertrain department. The base 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder is largely underpowered at 138 ponies and 148 lb-ft of torque. An improvement comes in the face of a 153-horsepower and 177 lb-ft version of the same engine which also benefits from start-stop technology. The problem is, the latter is available exclusively as an option on the top Sport Touring and Essence trim levels. Despite showcasing a lack of power, the Buick Encore handles like a champ and offers an abundance of user-friendly technology from the get-go. It also gets the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which often can’t be had in much more expensive cars.
03. 2019 LaCrosse
The third-generation Buick LaCrosse made its debut for MY 2017 which makes it ripe for a mid-cycle refresh soon. The 2019 Buick LaCrosse, however, won’t be the one to bring it. The MY 2020 LaCrosse, on the other hand, might. So, you can see our predicament here. Although the full-size sedan is one of the better offerings on the market, it’s probably more advisable to wait for the updated one instead of buying the current model. At any rate, the LaCrosse currently offers ride quality worthy of an executive car, and an interior to match. It’s also riddled with available convenience and safety gear (although in higher trims), and offers a duo of divergent, yet mutually complementing engines. Furthermore, the tri-shield has recently introduced a separate premium trim for most of its models including LaCrosse. The Avenir will be similar to Denali in GMC speak, for instance, but that’s still not enough for us to recommend taking a leap on the late third-generation model. Especially considering the LaCrosse Avenir costs at least $45,000 before extras.
A 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque can be found here as well. New for MY 2019 is the discontinuation of the 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. In other words, the V6 now comes exclusively with an all-new 9-speed auto and all-wheel drive. The base engine, however, features a mild-hybrid assist which helps boost the LaCrosse’s fuel economy. A 2.5L 4-cylinder coupled with an electric motor is good enough for 194 hp and 187 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic and returns 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Not spectacular figures by any means, but solid ones nonetheless.
02. 2019 Cascada
Another Opel-rebadged Buick car, the Cascada has managed to attract exactly 5,595 buyers during 2017. The intermediate convertible is the automaker’s very first open-top vehicle since the unlucky Reatta bowed down in 1991. Yet, the Cascada is far from being as exciting as it might look at first glance. Yes, it’s extremely good-looking and practical where practicality counts in a convertible, but it can still weigh as much as 4,000 pounds which severely affects performance. Moreover, the Cascada isn’t getting any younger, and it now lacks a number of safety goodies other cars usually get – especially for the sticker that goes north of $33,000. To be fair, though, most entry-level luxury convertibles cost more than that.
Arguably the biggest disappointment when it comes to the Buick Cascada for MY 2019 is its anemic 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It does make as much as 200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, but that’s not enough to propel the 4,000-pounder to 60 mph from a standstill in anything less than 8.3 seconds. A top speed of 120 mph is also way off the top speed of its German counterparts. All in all, the Buick Cascada has a nice ring to it in theory, but doesn’t manage to hold its own in practice. It’s time for a major makeover and MY 2019 simply doesn’t offer that.
01. 2019 Regal
Unlike the aforementioned Regal GS, the rest of the 2019 Buick Regal offering isn’t as exciting. Despite being fully redesigned in 2018, the next-gen Regal still lacks a little bit of everything in order to successfully compete with its rivals. The tri-shield badge currently offers the Regal in the Sportback and TourX body styles which is highly unorthodox for a car that’s mostly been either a sedan or a coupe throughout its history. The former replaces the outgoing sedan with a swooping fastback roofline, while the latter is actually an old-fashioned station wagon. Both, however, exhibit mediocre interior materials quality for their class and not exactly sporty driving dynamics.
Power comes from a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine which serves as Sportback’s base and TourX’s sole offering. It develops 250 horsepower in both iterations, and either 265 lb-ft of torque in the Sportback trim or 295 lb-ft in TourX models. Moreover, it pairs exclusively with an all-wheel-drive drivetrain and an 8-speed automatic transmission in the wagon, whereas the fastback gets it in either all-wheel or front-wheel drive configurations with a new 9-speed auto on the side. The optional 3.6L V6, as already mentioned above, comes exclusively with the exciting GS fastback which is a Regal of its own in many ways.