Midsize and midpriced, Buick Envision certainly not middle of the road

Buick’s new Envision wagon is being brought to North America from a General Motors plant in China.

Chances are good that David Dunbar Buick, who in 1902 founded what eventually became a division of General Motors, would probably never have imagined such a development. And he certainly wouldn’t have counted on China, where the Envision has been in showrooms for the past year, becoming the No. 1 market for Buick vehicles.

The five-passenger Envision slots between the seven-passenger Enclave and the subcompact Korea-built Encore. And as if that isn’t enough globalization for one brand, Buick’s Cascada convertible is shipped in from Gliwice, Poland.

The Envision was conceived and developed in Michigan. It arrives with up-level wagons are in big demand. These include new and old models such as the Acura RDX, Lincoln MKC, Audi Q5 and Lexus NX.

The Envision is fronted by a toothy grille that’s common on other Buicks. Overall styling harks back to the larger Enclave, particularly in the front fenders’ rounded, bulging shape. From any angle, the Envision is one attractive automobile that contains not the slightest hint of its import heritage.

The same goes for the interior that’s all elegance and sophistication, with fancy wood and stitched leather trim. A noise-canceling system, which works through the car’s speakers, filters out low-frequency engine sounds, much like noise-canceling headphones.

The 8-inch touch-screen is visible to front- and rear-seat passengers; the split-folding back bench can be adjusted fore and aft by a few inches, depending on whether you wish to maximize passenger or cargo space. The stowage bin that’s incorporated into the floor console can hold a horde of valuables.

Base Envisions (there are five trim levels) come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 197 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Note that a few well-equipped 2016-designated Envisions with the turbo engine have already started to arrive; the rest are due this fall.

Both engines come with six-speed automatic transmissions.

All-wheel-drive is available but the type of AWD depends on which engine you select. Those fitted with the turbo 2.0 automatically get an “Active Twin-Clutch” system with a rear differential that distributes added torque to the outside wheel when turning (called torque vectoring). That feature does not come with the nonturbo 2.5 that comes in front- or optional all-wheel-drive.

The Envision rings in at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 highway for the 2.5, while the turbo 2.0 is rated at 20/26.

With a base $35,000, including destination fees, Envisions come with dual-zone climate control, heated eight-way power adjustable front seats, push-button start, rear park assist, hands-free power lift gate and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Notching up at least a couple of trim levels (and shelling out more than $8,000) gets you into an Envision Premium AWD with the turbo engine plus tri-zone climate control, premium leather seats, seven-speaker Bose-brand audio system, 19-inch wheels and a host of active safety technology to keep drivers out of collisions.

The top-end Premium II adds a navigation system, but a panoramic moonroof, outside surround-vision camera remain optional.

The new Envision appears to have the ingredients buyers expect in a premium model. Some people might balk at the car’s Chinese connection, but how it looks and drives will ultimately take precedence.

David Dunbar Buick would likely be OK with that.

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