General Motors unveiled its new 2015 Buick Envision at the 2014 Chengdu Auto Show in China on Monday, giving us an advance look at a premium compact crossover likely to be sold in North America as well.

While not officially confirmed yet, the Envision is expected to arrive in the U.S., where it will fill the rather large gap between Buick's two existing crossover utility vehicles, the subcompact Encore and the large three-row Enclave.

The styling bears a familial resemblance to those other Buick models, but the Envision's footprint is closer to that of small luxury crossovers like the Acura RDX or BMW X3.

2015 Buick Envision (Chinese spec)

2015 Buick Envision (Chinese spec)

In China, the Envision will be powered by a direct-injected, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, producing 260 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive will be standard on all models at launch.

The all-wheel-drive system is new for GM, and features two electronically-controlled multi-plate clutches in the rear axle that automatically distribute torque as needed. Up to 100 percent of the torque can be sent to either the front or rear axle, depending on conditions.

That system may make it to the U.S., but the Envision may feature a different powertrain when it arrives here in calendar-year 2015 as a 2016 model.

For maximum fuel-efficiency, GM could perhaps even deploy the most powerful of its next-generation Ecotec engines in a U.S.-spec Envision as a fuel-efficiency headliner.

2015 Buick Envision (Chinese spec)

2015 Buick Envision (Chinese spec)

Replacing no fewer than three separate engine families globally, the new Ecotec range will include three- and four-cylinder engines, ranging in displacement from 1.0 to 1.5 liters.

One of these engines is expected to be used in the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, already unveiled in China as a 2015 model.

The Buick Envision may be a 2016 model by the time it is launched in North America, and it will likely be assembled here as well.


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