I love a long drive, preferring to hit the road every year to journey from suburban New Jersey, where I live, to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show.
It ends up being two days of driving to cover the roughly 1,200 miles round trip. However, with the right vehicle, the experience is bliss, even in January when the weather can be anything but cooperative. A flight takes only about two hours, but I like to get behind the wheel and see America.
In 2016, I made the trek in a Ford Escape, a popular compact crossover SUV. Just to spread the love around the Detroit automakers, I went with the competition this year and asked Buick, a General Motors brand, if I could borrow an Envision, also a compact crossover, and slightly more luxurious than the Escape.
An added wrinkle: the Envision is made in China. And I would be driving it along the I-80 corridor, right through the heart of made-in-USA Trump country.
There are no actual Chinese-branded vehicles for sale in the US, but there are two Chinese-made vehicles that are imported: the Envision and the Volvo S60 Inscription, a sedan that we drove and liked. Thus far, the BI Transportation team has been impressed with the Chinese-built cars that we’ve driven.
But clearly, with the new administration in the White House, it remains to be seen whether more Chinese cars and trucks bearing US and European badges will make it into the country.
The Envision I tested was priced slightly higher than $45,000, which means that it wasn’t a cheap choice. And because it was fully tricked out, it came packed with luxurious and high-tech features.
Here’s how the trip went:
My chariot for this arduous jaunt was a 2017 Buick Envision, a compact crossover SUV manufactured in … China! General Motors imported it from the Middle Kingdom to plug a glaring hole in the Buick lineup. It’s one of just two Chinese-made vehicles on sale in the US. The other is the Volvo S60 Inscription.
You can read our review of the Volvo here.
The design of the Envision is nothing too snazzy. It gets the job done, but it doesn’t stand out. Our tester was the Premier II trim level, with all-wheel-drive and plenty of techie features.
There’s the familiar Buick “waterfall” grille and tri-shield badge.