“We really see this as our calling card to customers that may have never considered a Buick before. Because it sits not only in a unique space in terms of pricing, it sits in a unique space in terms of its styling. There’s nothing quite like it in the marketplace,” Russell said at a media drive for the 2024 Envista.
“If you’re not out to consider or shop an SUV,” he added, “you’ll overlook us.”
Buick aims to keep that from happening by catering to consumers who Russell said have been “orphaned” by automakers phasing out sedans and who aren’t interested in driving bigger, boxier utilities. Buick stopped building sedans several years ago, and the market since has shifted to more expensive vehicles, in part, because of a shortage of microchips that led manufacturers to prioritize their most profitable offerings.
Amid the upward pricing trends, General Motors is making a strategic affordability play with some of its newer entrants, including the sub-$25,000 Chevrolet Trax built on the same platform as the Envista in South Korea.
The Envista and its Encore GX sibling, which has been freshened for 2024, both start at less than $30,000, including shipping. The Encore GX is Buick’s all-wheel-drive entry model, while the Envista is 11 inches longer and nearly 3 inches lower than the Encore GX. The Envista’s marketers say its proportions allow for sedan-like handling with SUV functionality.
Nearly 70 percent of Buick’s customers in 2023 were new to the brand, Russell said. Buick’s customer loyalty scores also are its highest since 2004 — through June, roughly 36 percent of previous owners bought another Buick, according to the brand — which gives it a fresh opportunity to introduce its premium lineup to consumers whose perception of Buick might be 20 years out of date, Russell said.
The foundation the brand is working to build now will carry over to Buick’s future EVs, he said.
“These are the right products for the brand as we want it to be represented today,” Russell said. “They are all very much new products as far as how we’re executing our design language, how we’re executing the integration of the technologies in the vehicle, how we’re executing our overall premium positioning, in terms of what we offer for the prices people pay.”
Buick would not provide sales estimates, but a spokesperson said the brand expects the Envista could even become Buick’s top seller. It has a good shot at that, said Paul Waatti, manager of industry analysis for AutoPacific Inc.