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Auto Show:  2011 Shanghai Auto Show

Buick Envisions Smaller SUV Concept - Shanghai Auto Show

April 18, 2011

In a move that further demonstrates GM's commitment to – and success in – China's automotive market, the General's Buick division unveiled its latest interpretation of the crossover SUV, the Buick Envision concept, at this year's Auto Shanghai. With futuristic sheetmetal and plug-in hybrid technology, it's not a stretch to 'envision' the concept becoming production reality, slotting beneath the Enclave in Buick's model lineup.

Ed Welburn, GM's Vice President of Global Design, noted that "the Envision has inherited Buick design DNA and taken the Buick global design language to a new height. It makes a significant statement for Buick styling and technology, and will influence upcoming models from the brand."

As Buick notes in material related to the Envision reveal, the design maintains Buick's upscale design cues, while adding a more dynamic (and less organic) edge via a combination of sharp angles and curved shapes. The profile is coupe-like (a growing trend – see Range Rover's Evoque), while the space – we're assured – is multifunctional. It's difficult to see the scissor-style doors making it into production, but we wish they would; parking lot slots aren't getting any larger.

Of course, staying connected has become more important than staying on the road. The Envision connects via a next-generation Bluetooth Intelligent Internet system, allowing users to connect on the web via their cellphones. The system also allows sharing of info from other vehicles. That info can be displayed either on the center console or projected onto the windshield.

Under the hood is GM's PHEV plug-in hybrid technology. The 2.0 liter turbo is complemented by a pair of electric motor generators located in the concept's auto/manual 8-speed transmission. The alternative energy is provided by a lithium battery and solar energy roof. When parked, started or running at low speeds the Envision engages only its electric power source. When more power is required – or the battery is running down – the engine will serve as the main power provider. And the vehicle can be plugged into a standard outlet for a recharge.

Notably, a combination of carbon fiber, magnesium and aluminum were used in the construction of the Envision's lightweight chassis. And that serves as a reminder that the future is about more than alternative energies. It's also about conserving the amount of material going into the end product.

DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Buick Envisions Smaller SUV Concept - Shanghai Auto Show - Autotrader