Buicks are immensely popular in China, which is why General Motors has taken to launching certain models there first, rather than in the U.S. That includes the Buick Envision crossover, which debuted all the way back at the 2014 Chengdu Auto Show.
Now, the Envision is finally coming to Buick’s home market. And while Buick stresses that the compact Envision was “engineered and tested in Michigan,” U.S.-market models will still be built in Yantai, China. In addition to being the first Chinese-built Buick sold in the U.S., the Envision will fill a major gap in the brand’s lineup.
Buick currently has two crossovers: the massive, three-row Enclave, and the subcompact Encore. They’re on opposite ends of the size spectrum, leaving plenty of room for something of more moderate proportions. The Envision stretches 183 inches from bumper to bumper, and it targets small luxury crossovers like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and Lincoln MKC.
So will the Envision measure up? Under the hood, the sole available powertrain option in the U.S. is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It produces 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Envision also gets Buick’s new twin-clutch all-wheel drive system, similar to the one offered on the 2017 LaCrosse and the Cadillac XT5.
The styling is as innocuous as that of other current Buicks. Interestingly, because it was introduced last year, the Envision was recently leapfrogged in terms of styling by the LaCrosse, although the differences in design language aren’t too great. To aid fuel economy, Buick equipped the Envision with active grille shutters, and used larger amounts of high-strength steel as a weight-reduction method. An aluminum hood helps in that area as well.
On the inside, the Envision features active noise cancellation (this is a Buick after all), and a standard Bose audio system. The Intellilink infotainment system and 8-inch touchscreen used in other Buick models are also available, as well as the OnStar 4G LTE system, which includes a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot that can support up to seven devices.
The Buick Envision is scheduled to go on sale in the coming months. Pricing information will be released in the weeks leading up to its launch date.
Updated 1/11/2016 by Ronan Glon: Added information about the U.S.-spec model.