Nearly as soon as Buick revealed the all-new Envision mid-size luxury crossover for the Chinese market, we were of the mind that it would make an excellent addition to the brand’s U.S. portfolio. Rumor has it that Buick is thinking the same thing, and we now have further evidence that plan is at least under consideration: this camouflaged Envision roaming our Ann Arbor, Michigan, environs.
For reference, the Envision is a two-row mid-size crossover along the same lines as the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Nissan Murano, and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. The vehicle has been on sale in China since last year, and it rides on General Motors’ next-generation transverse-engine, front-drive-based Delta platform. (The same architecture sits beneath the 2016 Chevy Volt, as well as the next-generation Cruze.) It is a handsome-looking thing, with a strong familial resemblance to other Buick products like the Regal and Verano.
Thanks to its larger footprint, the Envision’s overall aesthetic is more reminiscent of the three-row Enclave than the stubby and cartoonish—but nice to drive—Encore. The prototype pictured here looks identical to the Chinese-market Envision, save for its stand-in lighting units, deleted Buick badges, and hodgepodge camouflage job. Amusingly, for all the disguise work, Buick’s trademark VentiPorts weren’t removed from the hood.
In China, the Envision is powered by GM’s corporate turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed automatic is standard, as is all-wheel drive; we wouldn’t be surprised if the same powertrain made it stateside, although it’s highly likely that Buick would offer a base front-drive version, possibly even with GM’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder. A hybrid model is also a strong possibility.
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Since we haven’t heard much about the Envision since last year, we contacted Buick for an update but were told only that there are no current plans to bring the SUV here. It’s also worth noting that much of the Envision’s engineering took place on American soil, so seeing one parked in Ann Arbor doesn’t specifically indicate intent on Buick’s part. But the brand could certainly use another crossover to fill the gaping hole between the Encore and the Enclave, and we wouldn’t be at all shocked to see it confirmed for the U.S. later this year as a 2016 model with a starting price just above $ 30,000.