Buick Envision Debuts With No Fanfare

The made-in-China Envision is now on sale in North America.

Buick Envision
The Buick Envision is GM’s first Chinese import to the US.

The Buick Envision has arrived, the third crossover in this tri-shield brand’s portfolio. Only you wouldn’t know that without closely examining US auto sales data for May 2016.

Tucked within that information are the 89 Envisions sold in the US last month. As promised, Buick said the Envision would go on sale in the second quarter of 2016. However, instead of the customary fanfare accompanied by TV ads and a media push, the Envision has quietly gone on sale.

Political Posturing and a New Crossover

Why the quiet debut? Buick told Automotive News the Envisions now on sale are high-trim level 2016s. In a few months, the full range of Envisions will be made available and sold as 2017s. Its an unusual approach, but it may signal an internal decision to avoid political theater.

Indeed, the Buick Envision is made in China and it might receive unwanted attention from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Trump has harshly criticized US manufacturers for shipping jobs overseas or importing products that could just as easily be built by Americans.

Just last week Trump criticized the PGA Tour for its decision to move a tournament from the US to Mexico. The WGC-Cadillac Championship has been played at the Trump National Doral near Miami and will shift to Mexico beginning in 2017. Cadillac’s sponsorship was ending and will be replaced by Grupo Salinas, an assemblage of media companies.

NAFTA and Imports

Notably, Cadillac and Buick are GM brands and just this week Trump blasted the automaker for its investment in Mexico. GM now joins the Ford Motor Company, Carrier and Nabisco, as companies the presidential candidate has attacked.

While campaigning, Trump has suggested a 35 percent tariff on vehicles imported from Mexico. Of course, that recommendation ignores NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), a trilateral agreement the US made with Canada and Mexico to do away with numerous tariffs.

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2016/2017 Buick Envision

Political posturing aside, the Chinese-made Buick Envision fills an important hole in the Buick product line. Prior to its arrival, Buick offered the subcompact Encore and midsize Enclave crossovers. The Envision provides a natural step in the product line for Buick customers.

Visit the Buick.com website today and you’ll find no information about the Envision on its home page. Click the “All Vehicles” tab and a model list is shown. Cast your eyes on the “SUVs” category and you’ll spot the 2016 Envision tucked neatly between the 2016 Encore and the 2016 Enclave.

You’ll also spot a sky-high price for the Envision, starting at $42,070 or $3,005 higher than the Enclave. Click the “explore” tab, then “view specs” and you’ll find two trim levels featured. Both are fully-loaded all-wheel drive versions, the only models marketed in the 2016 model year.

Head back to the “all vehicles” tab and you’ll spot the 2017 Envision and a note explaining its fall 2016 availability. Click “explore” and a list of five trim levels will appear. The base price for the standard Envision is $34,990 with Preferred ($36,795), Essence ($38,645), Premium ($43,245), and Premium II ($45,885) models offered.

Front-wheel drive and a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine are standard. All-wheel drive or active twin-clutch all-wheel drive are available. A turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is offered with the two top trims only.

The Buick Product Line

Buick’s model line is expanding and they’re using cars built in Michigan, Ontario, Kanas, and China to draw customers to the tri-shield brand. It is doubtful whether most customers care where their cars are built.

And as for American jobs, dealer and service level positions are keeping people employed and tax coffers are replenished no matter where the new car was manufactured.

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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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