Now that the 2016 Cadillac CT6 has launched with the new Omega rear-drive platform, eyes are turning to a Buick concept that could benefit from that high-tech basis and become a flagship for the brand.
I wasn’t totally blown away by the Buick Avenir concept that was shown in January at the Detroit Auto Show, partly because it looks like General Motors could put it into production with some moderate tweaks. And that could very well happen, just not this second.
GM’s global product head Mark Reuss told AutoNews at the New York Auto Show a flagship Buick, even though it’s not really in the cards now.
“Not yet,” Reuss answered when asked at the auto show here this month whether an Omega-based Buick was in the cards. “We’re working on that.”
Well it’s not “no.” But it’s logical, given that Buick vastly outsells Cadillac in China (also Buick’s largest market by far) and that Buick hasn’t had a rear-drive flagship in China since the Holden-based Park Avenue went out of production in 2012. It hasn’t had a rear-drive flagship sedan in the U.S. since the 1996 Roadmaster, for that matter.
That said, I can think of some obvious issues with putting something rear-wheel drive that looks like the Avenir into production. The Avenir concept is four-tenths of an inch longer than the production CT6, and 2 inches longer. While Cadillac has all but confirmed a CT7 or CT8 to slot above its newly revealed flagship towards the end of the decade, the Buick basically sits on top of the CT6 in terms of size. That’s the first marketing problem.
Then there’s the issue of price, as well. Considering current guesses peg the Cadillac to start at around $60,000, a Buick Avenir would probably have to start around $50,000 – close to where the top LaCrosses get with options. Cadillac is already struggling to sell sedans at that price, so who knows who’d pay that much for a large Buick. Reuss did hint that a Buick based on Omega could lose some of the CT6’s advanced structural materials, adding weight but bringing costs down and keeping some of the platform exclusive to Cadillac.
So rear-wheel drive may not be coming back to Buick right away, but it isn’t ruled out. I can live with that for now.