Look for General Motors’ Buick brand to add another Chinese-market compact SUV to its family for 2023, as the compact Envista joins its U.S. line-up.
Built from a SAIC-GM design for the Chinese market, the new vehicle should arrive in the United States during the second half of 2023. It may be among the last Buicks powered by an internal combustion engine as Buick begins introducing EVs in 2024 using the Electra sub-brand.
GM President Mark Reuss talked about the new vehicle during the automaker’s investor day conference on Nov. 17.
Part of an expanding Buick line-up
Most likely, the Envista would slot between the $25,900 Encore GX and $35,600 Envision in Buick’s line-up now that the diminutive Encore has been dropped. At 182.6 inches long with a 106.3-inch wheelbase, it’s at the larger end of the compact spectrum, being notably larger than the Encore GX at 171.4 inches long with its 102.2-inch wheelbase.
That said, it’s every bit as long as the Chinese-built Buick Envision, which is about the same length, but employs a longer 109.4-inch wheelbase and comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4, not the 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine use in the Envista. It’s rated at 181 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque through a continuously variable automatic transmission versus the Envision’s 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
The Envista debuted in China in August, the first Buick to sport the brand’s new design language, which employs styling first used on the newest Buick Wildcat concept car and is the first to use Buick’s redesigned tri-shield badge. The front fascia’s grille and thin, wing-shaped LED lighting are to become Buick’s new face.
A GS Package is available that adds a number of sporty design flourishes, including a high-gloss black mesh grille, 18-inch wheels with a black finish and red brake calipers, and suede-wrapped sporty seats featuring embroidered GS logos.
The new vehicle should shore up Buick’s SUV portfolio in China, where the company has sold 10 million Buicks since the brand was reintroduced.
GM hasn’t mentioned pricing, but the Buick Envista starts at ¥152,900 in China, or $21,352 using current exchange rates.
What’s expected next
According to Automotive News, a new Enclave will follow in 2024, although it would be the last new ICE-powered Buick, as the brand is expected to have a fully electrified line-up by the end of the decade. Buick’s electric vehicles will be sold under the Electra sub-brand, reviving a name last used in 1990 for its full-size sedans. Models will be distinguished from one another using alphanumeric designations.
The new Electras will all be built in China, Buick’s biggest market.
The same year, 2024, will also see the Envision receive a mid-cycle freshening, as will the Encore GX. Whether anything like the Buick Wildcat EV concept reaches production remains to be seen. But odds don’t seem good. Buick has repeatedly shown stunning new coupe concepts, none of which have reached production. So look for the Wildcat to remain a source of inspiration for designers; a statement of intent.
That said, it will be interesting to see what happens with Buick in the long term as Cadillac attempts to move upmarket as it electrifies, as Buick would step upmarket as well. Buick is already heading in that direction with its post Avenir luxury sub-brand, enhancing Buick’s number one ranking in J.D. Power’s latest initial quality survey.
Buick sold 179,799 vehicles in 2021, up 9.5% from the 162,741 units in 2020. The Encore GX was its most-popular vehicle, followed by the Envision, Enclave and Encore. For the first three quarters of 2022, Buick sold 76,598 units down 49.2% year-over-year. While the Encore GX remains its top seller, the Enclave is second most-popular, followed by the Envision and Encore.