The first Chinese-built vehicle to be sold in North American doesn’t come from a Chinese brand; instead, it’s the Buick Envision, which also happens to be the brand’s first compact crossover model.
If it seems strange that an American company would opt to build a car in China, consider that Buick is regarded by Chinese drivers as one of the most prestigious brands in the world, and General Motors’ decision to build the Envision in that country reflects that perception.
This marks the Envision’s third model year, though its first, in 2016, was abbreviated, so this utility returns with no changes compared to last year’s model.
That means the Envision is once again available in Preferred, Essence, Premium I and Premium II trims, all of which come with standard AWD. However, which trim you choose determines the type of all-wheel system you get: Premium models come with a more sophisticated torque vectoring system that can direct all of the engine’s power to either front or rear axles, and can further divide power between the two rear wheels. It’s an arrangement that, like Acura’s SH-AWD system, makes a vehicle more capable in slippery conditions, but also contributes to more agile cornering on dry roads.
Those Premium models also benefit from Buick’s HiPer strut front suspension, which aids steering feel and reduces annoyances like torque and bump steer.
There’s a choice of two engines, starting with a 2.5L four-cylinder that puts 197 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque under the right foot of Preferred and Essence trims. Premium trims come with a 2.0L turbo four cylinder that boasts 252 hp and 260 lb-ft. Both motors come paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Envision is a handsome enough vehicle, but like some GM products of the past, it bears more of a resemblance to less-expensive models with which it shares its underpinnings, like the Chevrolet Equinox. On the plus side, the Envision adopts one of the Equinox’s more useful features, a sliding rear seat that can be used to provide more rear-seat legroom or a bit of extra cargo space.
All the same, the Envision comes reasonably well equipped in its most basic form, with niceties like dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, eight-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility, six-speaker stereo, power tailgate, fog ligjts, passive keyless entry, backup camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror and eight-way power front seats.
Other desirable upscale features include HID headlights, head-up display (Premium II trim), heated rear seats and steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and tri-zone climate control (Essence and Premium trims), Bose audio system (Premium) and navigation (Premium II).
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed
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