Orientation: 2016 Buick Envision SUV to Be Imported to U.S. from China Next Summer
Buick has a crossover problem here in the United States. Despite the continued popularity of the aging Enclave three-row, as well as the tiny Encore’s surprising market traction, the automaker is leaving sales on the table by selling only those two crossovers. And if you’re thinking the chasm between the subcompact Encore and the full-size Enclave is colossal, you’re not alone. As the saying goes, if a hole is deep enough, it could reach all the way to China. The pit between the Encore and the Enclave, it turns out, is almost literally that deep—because to help fill it, Buick dug all the way to China and grabbed the mid-size 2016 Envision crossover.
If this news sounds familiar, it’s because for more than a year rumors have swirled that the attractive, right-size Envision already on sale in China would be sent to the U.S. Just a few weeks ago, these reports seemingly were confirmed, but now Buick has come out and set the record all official-like. The 2016 Envision is to appear at the Detroit auto show next month and go on sale next summer, and Buick has handed out preliminary details to feast upon.
For starters, yes, the newest American Buick is to be built in Yantai, China. If you don’t know where that is, according to Google Maps, it’s an 18-hour flight west from Detroit. TripAdvisor.com lists among the top attractions Kunyu Mountain, a whale shark aquarium, and the “Huanghai Amusement City.” And to recap, it’s in China. That makes the Envision only the second car to be imported from the country (after Volvo’s long-wheelbase S60) by an established manufacturer. It will not be the last, we assure you.
When it arrives, the U.S.-spec Envision will be all-wheel-drive-only (at first) and powered by a 252-hp (estimated) turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy will be bolstered by active grille shutters and a claimed curb weight of 4047 pounds. Size-wise, the Envision’s footprint shadows those of the Ford Edge, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, and the Nissan Murano. Standard luxuries will include an 8.0-inch IntelliLink infotainment display, OnStar with 4G LTE data connection and Wi-Fi hotspot, active noise cancellation, eight-way power front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power liftgate, a Bose audio system, remote engine starting, a heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats.
Final details—including locked-in power figures, fuel-economy numbers, and pricing—will come closer to the Envision’s on-sale date. For anyone with hang-ups over the Envision’s Chinese origins, note that GM designed and engineered the Envision here in the U.S., with a lot of testing in the greater Detroit area (we’ve spotted prototypes often near our Ann Arbor offices). Expect to pay more than $30,000 for an entry-level Envision, which according to Automotive News will later gain a front-wheel-drive option.