Buick has gone all-in on SUVs. As of this year, Buick no longer offers passenger car models, preferring to focus on refining their crossover SUV lineup. Buick's offerings range from the subcompact Encore and slightly larger Encore GX through the compact Envision and the mid-size Enclave models. The laser-focus on crossovers has allowed Buick to deliver on their signature brand promise: to deliver a premium vehicle at an affordable price.
The newly updated Envision is a perfect example. This is a compact, five-passenger crossover powered by an up-to-date turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
Because it's mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the smaller engine gives the Envision performance more like a traditional V6. Buyers still get their choice of front-wheel or all-wheel-drive, which is good news for Portland drivers. Spring is everywhere now, but in a few short months we'll be back to rain and snow.
The Envision returns up to 24 MPG in city driving and up to 31 MPG on the highway in front-wheel-drive trim, and 2 MPG less if you choose all-wheel-drive. In addition to attractive fuel economy, Buick gives the Envision a full family-vehicle safety package. Buick's Driver Confidence package is standard on all Envision trims, with front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, following distance indicator and automatic high beam control. The optional Confidence Plus package adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Dashboard technology is similarly generous, with an available 10.2-inch touchscreen interface, which pairs nicely if you get the optional technology package with a head-up display and 360-degree camera system. The infotainment system will pair up with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or Amazon Alexa.
Besides the tech features, the Envision is a truly comfortable vehicle, and it benefits from Buick's efforts in QuietTuning, making it one of the most peaceful interior environments in its price range. Speaking of the interior, the Envision offers 25.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which is enough to keep all luggage for a family vacation inside the vehicle. Flip the rear seat down and there's 52.7 cubic feet for a trip to the appliance or big box store.
On the road, the Envision is a pleasure to drive. It's smooth and easy to operate, and all the controls are intuitive. While it's not a powerhouse of engine power, the available power is used well, and you won't ever feel like you're in a sluggish or bloated SUV.
The best feature of the Envision, though, is the price. The base Preferred trim starts at $34,795 with all-wheel-drive, and the well-equipped Essence at $38,995. The top Avenir trim brings in all the options and starts at $43,995, but with current factory incentives you can find an out-the-door price of about $42,660 with all-wheel-drive and all the high-tech features included. That's an attractive deal on a competitive premium SUV that offers top-tier luxury.
2021 Buick Envision
Base price: $37,600
Price as tested: $41,790
Type: Compact crossover SUV
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (228 hp, 258 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 24/31
Overall length: 182.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,904 pounds
Final assembly: Yantai, China
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