Buick was spared the executioner’s blade in the GM bankruptcy reorganization that felled Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab, largely on account of a venerable and mysterious phenomena: Chinese car buyers think Buicks are cool.
Chinese consumers also think large cars are cool, too, the larger the better, which is, for instance, why Sweden’s Volvo recently joined German and English brands by stretching their standard sedans for sale in the world’s largest auto market. And in this context, we can look to the Chinese as a big part of the reason behind Buick’s surprise show car, the Avenir, a large, long, swoopy four-door, rear-wheel-drive sedan, designed in GM’s Australian design office, which may actually enter production.
The brand has lacked a convincing flagship for years and the Avenir, which in its rear aspect harkens back to the boat-tail Rivieras of the 1970s, could be the answer. Avenir, we are told, is French for portending the future, and as future portents go, we’ve seen worse. American car design has had its low points, but big cars were something we once did well and bought plenty of. The large sedan market was largely abandoned in favor of large trucks in the 1990s, with outliers like the Lincoln Town Car (now deceased) a faint reminder of how cush cushy could be. Frankly, forced to choose between it and yet another king-sized SUV, I’d take the Avenir in a heartbeat.