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Auto blogTue, 12 Mar 2013 11:57:00 EST
Answering The $30,000 Entry-Level Luxury Question
Twenty years ago, a comparison between an entry-level Buick and Acura would have matched a Skylark against an Integra.
Twenty years ago, a comparison between an entry-level Buick and its Acura equivalent would have matched a Skylark against an Integra. The unfair battle would have resulted in the compact American's defeat in nearly every measurable category, as the Japanese competitor was arguably at the height of its powers.
Buick is taking a gamble with its 2013 Encore. General Motors' near-luxury brand has enjoyed great success attracting conquest buyers to its larger Enclave crossover, but it has never offered something quite like this small CUV.
Very early signs suggest that the gamble might be working. According to Mark Reuss, President of General Motors, the automaker expected about 1,500 initial orders from its dealers for the Encore, but it's tracking closer to 9,000 units. Alluding to the fact that historically, Buick has shared similar products with GM's other brands, Reuss says that Buick dealers are "thrilled to have an exclusive." The automaker already markets almost identical models in other markets as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka and Chevrolet Trax, but The General's other brands won't offer a twin to the new baby Buick.
The new Encore is based on the Gamma architecture that underpins the Chevrolet Sonic, and it shares the economy car's available turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. With standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive, GM says its Encore will be pitted against competitors like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, both of which are much more expensive but also much more powerful.
Buick currently offers two crossovers: the compact Encore and the extra-large Enclave, leaving plenty of room to slot a mid-size crossover in between. And that's just what Buick is planning on doing. In China, anyway.
Previewed in the teaser above, Buick's upcoming new crossover is cloaked and nestled in between its aforementioned stablemates-to-be. Set to be unveiled in China sometime later this year, the model has been confirmed to wear the name Envision - at least in that market. That's the name which the concept version wore three years ago, but we're still waiting on word over whether that name will carry over to the US version or whether we should expect something different like Anthem. But we have to admit that Envision fits better in the brand's crossover naming scheme.
Shanghai GM isn't saying much about the Envision in the press release below, aside from it having "dynamic and assertive styling" backed by all-wheel drive and stop/start ignition. The last time Buick offered a mid-size crossover in North America was with the Pontiac Aztek-based Rendezvous that was discontinued seven years ago.