(Warren, Michigan) CUV, SUV, whatever you want to call it, the sport utility vehicle is: an extended hood, a flat roof and a steep drop tailgate. We can round the corners, stretch its silhouette, refine the design of the glass surfaces, soften that of the grille and shape the sides to try to evoke something else. Wasted effort. Nothing looks more like an SUV than another SUV.

The proliferation of SUVs therefore encourages a certain standardization. Therefore, we can understand the reluctance of designers to move away from it. Buick intends to take this risk with the Envista, although the American brand presents its latest model as “an urban SUV”. To the eye, this terminology does not stick to it at all, but we have to admit that from a distance, it looks like a miniature Lamborghini Urus. So, come a little closer, the silhouette of the Envista appears more complex than it seems, more difficult to categorize too. Our bewilderment at the object delights Steve McCabe, one of the Envista stylists.

“If everyone is surprised, then we have succeeded in arousing the curiosity of consumers. Even more, this clearly assumed mix of genres has, in part, the ambition to capture the buyers weary of SUVs, but also to put Buick back in the spotlight.

Designed in the United States, produced in South Korea, the Envista made its debut on the Chinese market last December. Differences ? Yes, but they are mostly under the hood. The Chinese version lifts this one to a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine while the North American Envista gets a 1.2-liter (and one cylinder less). This mechanism revisited by the engine manufacturers is lighter than the previous generation. The use of a more sophisticated turbocharger has made this engine less sharp and quicker to deliver the goods. On that note, it develops 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Pending EPA and NRCan certificates, the designers estimate just under 8 L/100 km as the Envista’s average fuel economy rating.

While Chinese buyers are offered a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the North American Envista will get a conventional six-speed automatic transmission. Finally, remember: the Envista only drives its front wheels… These technical characteristics therefore position the Envista against the Kia Soul, Hyundai Venue and Nissan Kicks. In fact, Buick sets its entry price at US$23,495. The Canadian distributor has not yet determined its prices, but promises to communicate it shortly before the marketing of this model scheduled for the end of the summer.

Cleverly bodied, the Envista frees up vast space in the rear seats – a central argument when it comes to selling a car to Chinese families. North American consumers won’t mind.

Built on an architecture similar to the Encore GX, the Envista provides bench occupants with more legroom. However, they will have to deal with less clearance at shoulder level and under the headliner. In addition, despite the gaping opening of its tailgate, the Envista is also a little less greedy (586 liters against 665 liters for the Encore GX).

To minimize production costs, the interior furniture is taken entirely from the Encore GX, which was, it should be remembered, redecorated this year. That’s to say ? A redesigned instrument block, an oversized central screen (11 inches) and a flat steering wheel in its lower part. The appliqués, materials and textures vary according to the chosen version. There are three: Preferred, ST, and Avenir. And each one, judging by the displays set up at this preview at the General Motors Design Dom in Warren, Michigan, is inspired by women. An observation far from making the brand managers wince. They bluntly admit that women make up more than 50% of customers in the United States. Their Canadian counterparts do not reveal their demographic data, but until recently, the importance of finding an ambassador to succeed Marie-Pier Morin was recognized.