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The Best From Buick in 2021

Reviewing the 2021 Buick Lineup

Buick Enclave

The tri-shield badge has been enjoying a newfound success thanks to the most unlikely of markets for years now. Despite the fact domestic sales have shrunk to 2013 levels, Buick’s global sales remained strong thanks to the rapidly growing Chinese market where the GM division conducts roughly 80 percent of its business. Buick’s continued success in China is doubtful in future due to new regulations, trade tensions, and increasing competition from domestic brands are taking its toll and it’ll be interesting to see how the 2021 Buick lineup plans to counter that.

Speaking of sales, the exact number of models sold in China fell from 1,223,517 units in 2017 to 1,057,452 cars in 2018 which represents a 13.5 percent decline. What’s more, this result pushes Buick back to 2015 levels when it’s exhibited similar results in its most important single market.

The U.S. market provides more of the same. After delivering 219,231 units in 2017, Buick’s sales fell to 206,863 models in 2018 which is a decrease of 5.5 percent. Even more worrying is the discontinuation of Cascada and LaCrosse which together amounted to around 10 percent of Buick’s U.S. totals.

Going forward, the tri-shield brand’s focus will unsurprisingly switch to crossovers and most of the Buick SUV range is in for some changes. Here’s what to consider and what to stay away from when it comes to Buick in 2021.

What’s Hot in the new 2021 Buick Lineup

03. 2021 Enclave

Introduced for MY 2018, the second-generation Buick Enclave is getting ready for a mid-cycle makeover. The refreshed model has already been caught wearing camo so we already know what to expect. The mid-size luxury crossover will need a lot more than a simple facelift in order to remain competitive deeper into its life cycle as cost cutting is more than evident in the current model.

Design tweaks to the 2021 Buick Enclave will be minimal. A revised front and rear fascia with reworked grille, lights, and bumpers is pretty much all there is to it. Then again, design was never one of the Enclave’s issues. To the contrary – the Enclave is one of the most beautiful vehicles in its class and we’re glad it’s on a good way to remain so.

Interior, on the other hand, showcases some of the mid-size SUV’s major weaknesses. Quality of materials simply can’t compare with that of its competitors, yet the Enclave wears both its premium badge and price tag with pride. What’s more, the current models don’t offer enough in terms of standard active safety features, and what they do offer, comes at a high price. Some of that is expected to be rectified come MY 2021 but don’t expect any miracles since their second-best selling model is giving Buick some sense of security.

The Buick Enclave excels in offering a powerful and capable powertrain that should suit every driver’s needs. Its traditional 3.6L V6 develops 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, comes paired with a contemporary 9-speed automatic transmission, and can be configured in both the front and all-wheel drive. A real all-wheel drive system is, however, exclusively available with the expensive range-topping Premium and Avenir trims. Although the Enclave returns only 21 mpg combined at best, its 5,000-pound towing rate with the optional towing package renders it a class leader in that regard. It’s also one of the most powerful Buicks available at the moment.

The refreshed Buick Enclave might not bring improvements in every segment they’re required but it should do enough to give the nameplate another three or four relatively carefree years on the market. Prices will likely remain the same although equipment package is expected to expand. The base Buick Enclave starts from $40,000, while the most expensive Avenir trim requires $55,000 and additional $2,700 for the all-wheel drive system.

02. 2021 Envoy

Right now there’s a gaping hole in the Buick lineup between the compact Envision and the large Enclave. After discontinuing their slow-selling passenger cars Cascada and LaCrosse, Buick will soon introduce at least couple of all-new crossovers the kill two birds with one stone. The all-new crossover that slots just below the largest Enclave will likely be called Envoy. GM filed to trademark the Envoy name in 2018, and although it was previously part of the GMC lineup, it could very well switch to the tri-shield badge as of 2021.

The new SUV will likely share its underpinnings with the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT6 which ride on a shorter version of the C1XX platform. The larger Enclave, on the other hand, rides on its extended version. Unlike most of the current Buick range, the forthcoming Envoy is expected to adopt some new cues from the Enspire concept – thinner headlights and sharper edges above all else.

Interior should be in line with the rest of the Buick offering which, unlike the larger model, should suit the baby Enclave just fine. The smaller mid-size SUV should also offer three rows of seats, but don’t expect to fit two grown adults in the last row. Most of the advanced electronic safety gear should remain optional with parking sensors, blind-spot monitors and a rear cross-traffic alert coming from the get-go.

The future Buick SUV’s powertrain lineup should be directly related to that of its stablemates from GMC and Cadillac. Base models should rely on a 252-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, while those in need for more power can opt for Enclave’s own 3.6L V6 with 310 ponies. Both the front and all-wheel drive will be available across most of the Envoy range, and so will a 9-speed automatic gearbox.

The 2021 Buick Envoy could be arriving as early as late 2020 with prices starting from around $35,000. Needless to say, the range-topping Avenir trim should require around $50,000.

01. 2021 Encore GX

The best-selling model which accounts to almost half of company’s U.S. sales has to be a priority for any car maker. That’s the case with Buick and its subcompact crossover Encore too, but only in China apparently. The second-generation Buick Encore won’t be exported to the U.S. market which, instead, gets the all-new Encore GX. Meanwhile, the first-gen Encore continues to be sold unchanged but that probably won’t remain the case for too long.

The all-new 2021 Buick Encore GX shares its underpinnings with the new Chevy Trailblazer and slots just underneath the larger Envision. Compared to the smaller Encore, the GX gains 6.5 inches in length and almost 3 inches in wheelbase. Visually, however, the second-generation Encore and Encore GX are very similar, but the older Encore which remains on sale in the U.S. showcases what’s clearly an aging design.

The all-new GX will offer more room for both its passengers and their cargo than the subcompact conventional Encore. It also comes standard with automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, parking assist, and lane departure warning. A two-tone color scheme works well with its compact demeanor, while the quality of materials is what you’d expect from Buick’s compact crossover.

The 2021 Buick Encore GX is available with two different turbocharged 3-cylinder engines which is a fresh approach on Buick’s part. The smaller 1.2L 3-cylinder makes 137 horsepower, and pairs exclusively with a CVT gearbox and front-wheel drive. The larger 155-horsepower 1.3L unit pairs with a 9-speed automatic, but is available exclusively with upper trim levels. Although it too can be configured in front-wheel drive guise, it’s also the only GX’s engine available with optional all-wheel drive.

The Buick Encore GX goes on sale in the first half of 2020 with prices starting from around $26,000 but there’ll be plenty of room for their growth.

What’s Not in the New Buick Lineup

03. 2021 Regal

After dropping the Cascada convertible and LaCrosse sedan, Buick is met with a quandary: whether to continue offering the Regal as their only remaining passenger car (also available in sportback and wagon body styles) or to axe it and switch to a crossover/SUV-exclusive lineup? Whichever turns to be the case, Regal’s sales probably won’t be going up any time soon.

The sixth-generation Buick Regal arrived not long ago, during MY 2018 and should be due for a mid-cycle makeover for MY 2021. The facelifted Regal sedan for the Chinese market has already been leaked with improved front and rear fascias, but as it’s often been the case lately, the U.S. version might not live to benefit from it. With barely over 14,000 units sold in 2018, the Regal hasn’t got a real future on the U.S. market any more. At least for the time being, hence Buick brass will likely decide to let it go.

The Regal lineup offers sportiness, spaciousness, and timeless styling depending on which body style you end up going with. Interior quality, however, leaves a lot to be desired as the mid-size luxury car isn’t as luxurious as its competitors. Neither is it exactly stacked with advanced safety gear as both the automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist are only available as options.

Most Regals come with a 250-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder paired with either an 8-speed (TourX wagon) or a 9-speed automatic transmission (Regal Sportback). THe former application also develops 295 pound-feet of torque, while the latter makes 260 lb-ft. The performance-oriented Buick Regal GS, on the other hand, makes do with a larger 3.6L V6 mill capable of putting up 310 ponies.

With Regal’s future remaining in the balance, it’s still unclear whether we’ll get to see the 2021 model or will Buick simply continue offering the leftover stock. If they decide on the latter, the base Regal will continue to retail from $25,000, the TourX wagon from $30,000, and the performance GS from $40,000. The only remaining classic Buick nameplate surely deserves better.

02. 2021 Encore

As already mentioned above, the second-generation Encore won’t be available on the U.S. market. Instead, Buick will continue to offer the first-gen models which ride on underpinnings basically unchanged since 2013. Although the Encore’s sales amount to almost half of Buick’s sales in the U.S. (93,073 units in 2018) and they’ve been rising consistently over the years, it’s time to start considering the outdated subcompact for what it is – an outdated affordable car with precious few perks.

Design-wise, the Encore for 2021 largely resembles a 2013 car although it did receive one substantial mid-cycle makeover. With no changes expected to take place in 2021, the subcompact will become the oldest model in its segment and it probably won’t take long for Buick to pull the plug on it.

The Encore is comfy and well-appointed for its class. It also comes with a top-class infotainment system with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. However, it lacks some advanced safety gear, while even a forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitors, and lane-departure warning come at extra cost.

Previously, the Encore used to offer two turbocharged 1.4L 4-cylinder engines, but one of them has been axed as of MY 2020. Sadly, the shortest straw was pulled by the more powerful and arguably better of the two. At the moment, the only choice is a 138-horsepower version of the engine which pairs with a 6-speed automatic gearbox and returns 27 mpg combined at most if ordered in front-wheel drive configuration. All-wheel drive is, however, available as an option.

The Buick Encore remains available for $24,000 with all-wheel drive requiring $1,500 more. However, in order to buy an all-wheel drive Encore, you’ll have to opt for a more expensive Preferred trim, pushing the base price to $27,000.

01. 2021 Envision

The compact Envision has been around since 2016 and hasn’t stopped spreading controversy among the U.S. buyers and car industry employees alike. What’s more, its sales took a sharp downturn after the recent facelift which had occurred during MY 2019. The Chinese-built crossover thus showcases that its smaller sibling Encore is just an anomaly in that regard.

Design-wise, the Envision follows the modern compact crossover patterns and doesn’t even try to offer any flair. While that might be appealing to some buyers, others probably won’t be too enthusiastic about it. In other words, the Envision is a Buick in true sense of that word and had our grandparents driven crossovers back in the day, this would surely have been their choice.

Interior is comfy and quiet, but still less luxurious than interiors of its rivals. The Envision does get a full array of advanced safety gear, but only on top grades. At the lower end of the scale, however, the compact crossover offers very little in terms of driver’s aids and advanced electronic safety goodies.

There are two engines to choose from and both come with their pros and cons. The base 197-horsepower 2.5L 4-cylinder tied to a 6-speed automatic transmission fails to provide the necessary excitement. An optional 2.0L turbo four with 252-horsepower and a 9-speed automatic gearbox rectifies that issue but comes at a hefty price. Both the front and all-while configurations are available with both engines but it’s worth mentioning that the latter does get a more sophisticated system with a locking rear diff.

The base Buick Envision starts from $32,000, while the most expensive models require around $45,000. The latter price tag does include both the aforementioned turbo four mill and its all-wheel drive system, however.

About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much!