Buick lifts cover on Envision crossover in China
DETROIT -- General Motors has taken the wraps off a new midsize Buick crossover in China amid growing evidence that the vehicle is destined for U.S. showrooms.
The Buick Envision, shown Thursday in the central China city of Chengdu, is 183.7 inches long, about 15 inches longer than Buick's Encore compact crossover and 18 inches shorter than the Enclave large crossover. Styling cues include sculpted side panels, a large daylight opening and flared taillights.
Meanwhile, a camouflaged Envision was spotted this week in a parking garage in suburban Detroit, the latest in a string of U.S. sightings of test mules. GM is mum on whether the Envision will appear on American shores, but sources say its U.S. launch is slated for late 2015 as a '16 model.
The China version of the five-seat crossover is powered by the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine offered on the Chevrolet Malibu, combined with a new, GM-designed six-speed transmission with stop-start, the company said.
It features a new "intelligent" all-wheel-drive system that includes two electronic clutches in the rear axle to automatically distribute torque both from front to rear wheels and between the rear wheels, similar to Audi's Quattro system. GM says it offers a more responsive, comfortable ride.
Interior touches include piano black accents, "French-style dual stitching" and active noise cancellation, which uses microphones and sound waves to counteract unwanted engine noise.
Other features include a panoramic sunroof, grille shutters that close at higher speeds to reduce wind drag, and an optional power liftgate with a foot-sensing function for hands-free opening.
In an interview Thursday, Duncan Aldred, U.S. vice president of Buick and GMC, wouldn't discuss potential markets for the Envision beyond China. He said Buick's U.S. lineup will add seven new or redesigned models over the next three years.
"We have a lot of exciting things to look forward to," Aldred said. "Some of those are in segments in which Buick has proven to be really successful."
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