At the Detroit Auto Show in January, the 2017 Buick Envision will make its North American debut, entering the mid-size luxury crossover class to compete against vehicles like the Audi Q5, Lincoln MKC, and Acura MDX.
It has the latest Buick design similar to the new LaCrosse we just saw unveiled, looking upscale inside and out. Like its competitors, it will offer a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.
With 252 horsepower it should offer good drivability but also fuel efficiency as the Buick Envision will feature an auto-start-stop system to save fuel. And it debuts the brand’s first application of a dual-clutch all-wheel drive system.
The interior will offer all the latest technology and some of the most dramatic design we’ve seen from Buick in a long time. So for all intents, it will be shoulder to shoulder with all its would be competitors here in North America. Except for one thing. It’s built in China.
The Buick Envision has already been on sale in China since fall of 2014, where Buick is one of the top brands. The Envision has been quite popular there selling over 127,000 copies so far in 2015, contributing total brand sales in the country nearing the pace of 1,000,000 vehicles a year.
When you consider Buick will barely reach 250,000 vehicle sales in the United States, it’s clear the brand has become one who’s gravity and soul is really more in China now that here at home.
Right or wrong, in their birthplace Buick still struggles with the image of being an old-person’s brand, the same problem which sealed Oldsmobile’s fate. But in China, the up and coming middle class sees Buick as a premium American brand, something to aspire to, and quite fashionable believe it or not.
Buick needs a new premium mid-size crossover SUV here to compete, but all of their other North American plants are at full capacity. This brings us to the reason General Motors chose to import the 2017 Buick Envision from its Chinese plant.
While they anticipate the Envision to become very popular in North America, it isn’t expected to move enough volume to justify a second assembly plant here. They say it simply didn’t pencil and it would have delayed bringing a new product to at least 2-3 years.