Reputations die hard, and the Buick brand is a great case in point. For most Americans, Buick is still synonymous with huge highway barges that are close cousins to your couch. But here's a fact check: The brand has recently revamped its product line with a number of stylish, dynamic vehicles that you might not even recognize on the road. We've put together a few examples that show why it may be time to reconsider GM's long-running luxury brand.
Stretching back decades, the historic Regal nameplate means a lot of things to Americans, but words such as sporty, nimble and sleek typically aren't what come to mind. That's exactly what the current Regal is, though, because underneath it is actually a European-market Opel Insignia sport sedan that's been tweaked a bit for our roads. The Regal has plenty of style, as you can see, along with a standard 7-inch touchscreen that includes Buick's IntelliLink smartphone integration, and the athletic GS model even offers Brembo brakes and adaptive suspension dampers. Plus, every Regal comes standard with a robust 259-horsepower turbocharged engine, while all-wheel drive is optional for those looking for better grip in poor weather. Particularly on winding roads, the Regal is a revelation, clinging to the pavement like a sport coupe and rushing forward on a wave of turbocharged torque. It may be Buick's oldest model, but no other car better embodies the brand's new direction.
You don't normally think of Buicks and sophisticated urbanites as having much overlap, but the compact Encore crossover confidently bridges this gap. Blessed with the 7-in touchscreen as standard along with upscale interior color schemes, the Encore combines technology and aesthetics in a distinctly modern manner. On the outside, the Encore's tiny dimensions make it about as maneuverable as micro crossovers such as the MINI Countryman, while its subtle, grown-up curves give it added appeal for more mature shoppers. Another unexpected trait is the Encore's excellent fuel economy: The front-wheel-drive model gets a remarkable 33 miles per gallon on the highway, while even the all-wheel-drive version yields 30 mpg. Throw in a starting price of under $25,000, and it's no wonder that Encores are becoming a common sight on chic city streets.
If the Encore isn't quite what you're looking for, there's a compact Buick sedan, too. But don't assume that compact equates to cheap, because while the Verano's pricing is certainly appealing, its feature set is decidedly premium. Even the base model features standard 18-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, and the same 7-in touchscreen as the others, while the options list includes leather upholstery and Bose audio. Also, there's an available turbocharged engine under the hood that's rated at 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. That's serious thrust for a car that's about the size of the related Chevy Cruze. There's no other compact sedan quite like the Verano, but the features that set it apart are definitely not what you'd expect based on the Buicks of old.
But it's not just the Buick's renewed focus on driving dynamics and contemporary styling, for 2015 the LaCrosse, Regal, Verano and Encore come standard with OnStar and high-speed data ready 4G LTE hardware. Data plans are available at an additional cost. This means features like built-in apps from iHeart Radio, The Weather Channel and NPR will update and load quicker. You can also make your Buick a mobile WiFi hotspot with the benefit of that high-speed 4G data connection. Having a WiFi hotspot in the car may not be enough to get you to buy a Buick, but when the same feature is being offered in Audi vehicles, it clearly puts Buick in whole new league.
When the economy tanked back in 2008, Buick was limping along with an aging lineup that seemed almost irrelevant. Fast-forward to the present, though, and the brand has been reinvented with a full assortment of modern, dynamic offerings for buyers of many different ages and stages. With this new identity now firmly in place, you might want to reconsider what the automaker has to offer.