Buick is the oldest American automotive manufacturer, but its standing with current consumers is somewhat puzzling. The iconic car brand doesn’t quite slot into the economical category, but its vehicles are generally more affordable than those sold by BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
What is Buick’s place in the automotive industry, and who is the brand’s target market? Let’s analyze the company’s offerings, pricing, and branding to come to a satisfactory conclusion.
How upscale are Buick models?
Buick’s lineup seems quite classy at first glance. Its models feature sweeping curves, defined lines, and bold grilles. This design philosophy represents a peaceful driving experience, which sets it apart from the more aggressive style of brands such as Dodge. However, the eye test isn’t the best indicator of whether a vehicle is luxurious.
It’s not easy to identify a luxury car by its logo or hood ornament, unlike past generations. Modern companies are manufacturing sleeker, more sophisticated models every year, blurring the lines between the economical and the truly special.
For example, many Honda models feature a similar design philosophy as Buick. After all, we wouldn’t blame you for mistaking a Honda Pilot for a Buick Enclave. But the devil is in the details.
Looking inside the cabin of just about any Buick model reveals some telling information. You won’t find an abundance of hard plastic materials typically used in economy-class cars. Instead, this American automaker utilizes fancier, soft-touch materials. However, most of the brand’s don’t match the level of interior quality set by other luxury brands.
Car and Driver’s review of the 2021 Enclave exemplifies this. It stated, “The wood trim looks and feels chintzy, the sunshades for the optional panoramic roof aren’t power-operated, and only the passenger-side second-row seat slides forward to allow third-row passengers in and out — a clear cost-cutting move that compromises convenience.”
Are Buicks as expensive as most luxury cars?
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No. It’s reasonably affordable to purchase a brand-new Buick. However, you should expect to pay a little more than you would for a typical economy car.
With a starting MSRP of $24,600, the Encore subcompact SUV is the least expensive model in Buick’s 2021 lineup. In comparison, the similarly sized 2021 Hyundai Kona starts at $20,050, and the luxurious 2021 BMW X1 sDrive28i begins at $35,400.
The 2021 Enclave – the manufacturer’s largest SUV – isn’t as budget-friendly as its rivals. Buick gave it a starting MSRP of $40,000, which is between $6,000-$10,000 more expensive than most non-luxury three-row midsize SUVs. Meanwhile, seven-passenger luxury SUVs generally cost $50,000 or more.
Does the company claim that it is a luxury brand?
Buick lives within the gray area. It doesn’t quite state that all its vehicles are at the luxury level, but the brand implies that it targets higher-end clientele. According to the Detroit Press’ interview with Buick marketing director Molly Peck, the company’s key demographic is “a successful executive with family.”
Meanwhile, the American automaker uses the term ‘luxury’ in its marketing efforts regarding its Avenir line. Buick offers these high-end trim levels on some of its models, including the Envision and Enclave.
Avenir models offer more luxurious styling and are loaded with the brand’s most desirable features. Naturally, the automaker priced these prestigious variants more closely in line with comparable luxury vehicles. For instance, the 2021 Envision Avenir starts at $53,800, and the price climbs even higher once you add options.
The final verdict
While some Buick models certainly command an enormous sum, the brand lands more in the ‘premium’ category. Its vehicles most closely resemble the above-average quality and offerings of manufacturers such as Mazda and Chrysler. Additionally, Buick clearly slots in below Cadillac yet above Chevrolet among General Motors’ subsidiaries.