Buick due to add crossover, dose of fun

Coming off a quiet 2014 — with no new vehicle launches — Buick will get busy next year by adding a mid-sized crossover, a potential volume model slotted between the tiny Encore and jumbo Enclave.

General Motors also appears ready to add some fun to Buick’s lineup by bringing over the Opel Cascada convertible from Europe. Sources say GM is readying the car for the United States, possibly by early 2016.

Buick next year also should reveal its next-generation LaCrosse sedan, which is slated for a launch by the end of 2015 or in early 2016. The compact Verano redesign should follow, by early 2016.

Here are highlights of Buick’s plan for the 2015-17 model years.

Verano: Buick’s compact sedan will have a relatively short life cycle of about 41/2 years with an expected redesign in early 2016 as a ’17 model. It will ride on the same compact architecture as the next generation of its close sibling, the Opel Astra, and the Chevy Cruze. A turbocharged version of GM’s new 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is a prime candidate for the base engine. The existing 2.0 turbo should remain.

The Regal is due for a redesign in mid-2017.

Regal: The Regal, re-engineered with an improved 2.0-liter engine and all-wheel-drive option for the ’14 model year, is scheduled for a redesign in mid-2017 as a 2018 model, following a redesign of its European sibling, the Opel Insignia.

LaCrosse: A redesign of Buick’s flagship sedan is expected in late 2015 or early 2016 as a ’16 model. GM executives have hinted at a revolutionary design to position the LaCrosse as a more premium player and separate it from the Chevy Impala. The sedan will be the first vehicle built on the newest iteration of GM’s Epsilon mid-sized vehicle platform, dubbed E2XX, which also will underpin the next generations of the Chevy Malibu, Chevy Impala, Regal and others. A smaller engine than the current 3.6-liter V-6 is likely.

Encore: The small crossover that debuted in early 2013 will be due for a freshening in 2016. A redesign isn’t expected until 2018.

Envision: Shanghai GM confirmed in July that it will unveil the mid-sized crossover this year for China, with a likely launch by early 2015. Sources say a version for the United States will be ready in the second half of 2015, as a ’16 model. It’s unclear if the Envision will be sold under the same name in the United States. GM said the China version will have “a new-generation powertrain” with a start-stop system and awd, although the Chinese Envision’s engine likely will be small — possibly a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder. For the U.S. vehicle’s engine lineup, GM’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder and the 2.0-liter turbo used in the Malibu and Regal are likely candidates.

Enclave: A redesign of the large crossover is scheduled to start production in spring of 2017, its first major makeover in the decade since its launch. A new, lighter platform — which also will underpin the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia and Cadillac SRX — will allow GM to downsize from the 3.6-liter V-6 engine. A new 2.7-liter is a possibility. The Enclave should get GM’s new nine-speed transmission, due in 2016.

Opel’s Cascada may join Buick’s lineup.

Two-door convertible: All signs point to GM bringing Opel’s two-door Cascada convertible stateside as the latest Opel-to-Buick sync-up. It will likely appear in Buick showrooms by early 2016, with the same 2.0-liter engine found in the Regal and Verano. It’s unclear whether Buick will keep the Cascada name.


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