A rear shot of a red 2019 Buick LaCross driving in a city.

What Buick’s China-Only Sedans Might Mean for America

If you head to your local Buick dealer here in the States, you’re going to find a lineup that includes a few SUVs and… that’s it. There are different sizes and different trims, but with similar styling across a lineup that only has one body style, it’s easy to wonder: what happened to all the sedans? Buick used to be known for its sleek, luxurious sedans. Did the company really stop making these beloved nameplates? For customers in the United States, the answer is “Yes.”

The compact Verano was discontinued after the 2017 model year. Buick’s flagship sedan, the LaCrosse, was phased out after the 2019 model year. The Buick Regal was ditched after the 2017 model year, though the name managed to live for another three years, now taking shape as the Buick Regal Sportback (a luxury hatchback based on a European design), the Buick Regal GS (a more athletic version of the hatch), and the Buick Regal TourX (a station wagon based off the platform with a more outdoorsy look and feel). But all of these variants bit the dust after the 2020 model year, and America hasn’t seen a Buick sedan since.

But while Buick is an American brand, they don’t limit their market to their home country. This company does fairly well in China, and its lineup over there is completely different from what we get here in the States. How are the Buick sedans getting along over there, and should they come home someday? Let’s dig in and consider the luxury brand’s present offerings overseas and how they might impact future offerings domestically…

Classic Buick Models Living Overseas

While the LaCrosse, Regal, and Verano may all be old news in America, they’re still available in China—and they haven’t stood still these past few years; they’ve been evolving overseas. In 2021, Buick announced the Verano Pro, a midsize sedan designed to appeal to young drivers with a sporty vibe and modern styling inside and out, in addition to the usual slate of luxury features.

A new generation for the LaCrosse was announced in 2023, getting a fully new design with an almost unrecognizable front face that leans into the trend of slim headlights and has a bold grille that’s more prominent than the one last seen in the States. Inside, there’s a wraparound dash with a curved 6K screen and ambient lighting with 121 color options (both of which would feel at home on the set of a Sci-Fi movie) alongside more traditional touches like perforated leather surfaces, with brushed chrome accents tying past and future together. A brand-new Regal also launched in 2023, embracing the latest in Buick’s design language and incorporating the latest technology, including an AI voice assistant.

New Models Bringing Futuristic Style

With electrification taking off worldwide, Buick has started to enter the EV game in China. The Velite 5 entered the market a few years back. While the nameplate won’t be familiar to American drivers, this electric hatchback itself might ring a bell since it’s essentially a Buick-branded version of the Chevy Volt. While the Volt was discontinued stateside after the 2019 model year, the Velite nameplate has gone on to spawn a family of vehicles in China that now includes crossovers (the Velite 6 EV & PHEV) as well as an all-electric SUV (the Velite 7).

A blue 2024 Buick Envista parked outside a Buick dealer.

Models That Have Crossed the Ocean

Many enthusiasts look at Buick’s lineup in China with envy, wishing that some of these models could make their way over here. For those dreamers, there are precedents that might provide a glimmer of hope. After all, automakers have shifted models from one market to another plenty of times in the past, and more specifically, Buick has brought a model from China to the US as recently as the 2024 model year.

While Buick calls their new Envista the nameplate’s “first-ever” on its website, that’s only true if you narrow your focus to the United States. This compact SUV was announced in Shanghai back in September of 2022, and it was confirmed just a few months later that the model would eventually be making its way across the Pacific. That pattern is set to repeat again for the 2025 model year, with the Electra E5 (an all-electric SUV that was launched in China in 2023) soon to join the American lineup.

Can Sedans Boom Again in the US?

It would be foolish to overlook the fact that the Envista and Electra E5 are both SUVs that fit neatly into Buick’s American lineup. Bringing over a sedan is sure to be a harder sell. After all, there’s a reason Buick stopped selling sedans in this country in the first place. Still, there’s one more announcement from recent years that brings a little oxygen to enthusiasts’ spark of hope and might just be the thing to fan it into a flame down the line: the Wildcat EV Concept.

The Wildcat wears an old nameplate, previously used by a full-size sedan that was produced from 1963 to 1970, but its design is brand-new. When it was revealed back in 2022, it was exciting to see it wearing Buick’s then-new tri-shield logo between the sleek headlights that have been a part of Buick’s exterior design language in recent years. Most important to car fans, the Wildcat EV isn’t a crossover or SUV; it’s a coupe with a low center of gravity and a sleek silhouette.

While the concept is far from being a reality, its development and the fact that its announcement comes from Detroit rather than Shanghai both make it impossible to completely rule out the possibility of Buick sedans making a US comeback.

A close-up shot on the hood of a white 2023 Buick Electra E5.

Should Sedans Return to the US?

It’s within the realm of possibility that Buick will return to selling sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes in the United States, but should they? Will the past simply repeat itself and send any new models back to the grave as soon as they appear? Well, the future is famously difficult to predict, but there are some good arguments for giving it a try.

For one thing, we’re learning more and more about the dangers of SUVs. When it comes to drivers and passengers, rollover is a concern in the case of an accident. If you look at the 2023 Buick Encore GX and Buick Envision, you’ll find that both have a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration but only a four-star rating in the rollover category. This isn’t a Buick-specific issue by any stretch; it’s the case for most five-star SUVs. Safety can be an issue for pedestrians and cyclists, too: the higher point of impact makes accidents involving SUVs more dangerous than ones involving cars.

If risk doesn’t change American habits, other factors just might do the trick. According to Automotive News, sales of sedans increased during the first quarter of 2023, and there are a few possible reasons for this. Because they take fewer materials to make, sedans tend to be more affordable, both in terms of sticker price and fuel economy. It could also be a generational shift, with new drivers rejecting their parents’ idea of what kinds of vehicles are desirable or cool. And while it might just be a blip that arose thanks to lingering supply chain issues, it could also be a precursor of what’s to come, especially with electrification on the rise.

One Possible Future

Instead of the old slate of Buick sedans returning to the States, it’s possible that the future will see a compromise between the SUV and sedan body styles thanks to electrification. Fuel economy is an important factor to many American drivers, but others are willing to spend more at the gas station to get more size or power. But since charging an EV takes longer than filling up a fuel tank, range seems to be a more important factor for EVs than fuel economy is for traditional gas-powered vehicles.

This could very well lead to EV designs that are smaller, more lightweight, and more aerodynamic, which would basically make them more sedan-like; the Electra E4—a China-only Buick “Coupe SUV”—is a good example of this. As for how much this phenomenon will actually affect Buick’s American lineup going forward, we’ll just have to wait and see.