Premium and luxury marks like all brands have seen sedan sales fall as crossovers and SUV’s gobble up more and more market share. What to do? Well, by all means, give the people what they want. Thus, one century old car brand has added yet another crossover to their line-up. Only this one comes with a trans-pacific twist.
The 2017 Buick Envision adds a 3rd arrow to Buick’s crossover quiver, fitting neatly between the much smaller Encore and the much larger Enclave. This middle-child takes aim at the likes of Acura RDX and Lincoln MKC, with plenty of room for adults in all five seating positions.
Addressing the “Made in China” elephant in the room, we saw nothing to give consumers concern. If you’re a rival brand however, you might be a little worried with what Buick has been able to pull off. Is quality on par with Lexus? Well not quite, but darn close, and all design and development work took place here in the U.S.
On the road it feels competent enough, better than expected really; and while there aren’t any actual bells or whistles inside, there are more than enough up-to-date features.
Feel and placement of controls is more Euro-inspired than domestic, there’s a very comprehensive instrument panel with configurable TFT screen, and full connectivity from Buick’s IntelliLink.
The dash is dressed in lots of faux-wood, but it looks good and is well-integrated. Certainly better than some of the bland treatments we’ve seen lately.
Available safety features include GM’s Safety Alert Seat, Surround Vision, and Front Automatic Braking which we found to work perfectly every time, always braking late and hard just shy of our barrier.
Even lesser trims are very well equipped with 8.0-inch touchscreen, heated seats, and a programmable-height power lift gate.
While smooth, ride quality is more Chevrolet-firm than Lexus-plush; and the seats are a little harder than we’d like, but are adequate for the long haul.
As for hauling, rear seats fold almost fully flat with just the pull of the cargo area-mounted levers. Everything seemed a little stiff in operation, but we weren’t sure if that was a build quality issue, or things just needing to get broken in a little.
Max cargo is 57.3 cubic-ft.; and there’s a very good 26.9 with the rear seats up.
The only noise and vibration issue we’ll note is that this particular Envision allowed a little more noise and wind rustle into the cabin than others we’ve driven.
Standard engine is a 197-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4 in front-wheel-drive models. The upgrade is a 2.0-liter turbo I4 that makes 252-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque and comes with all-wheel-drive. Both work through a 6-speed automatic.
Both engines also offer adequate power and operate quietly; but the 2.0-liter is especially peppy, and was our choice for track work.
There, it felt very strong off the line, feeling like all torque is available right from the get-go. A slight bit of tire chirp and we were off to a quick 0-60 of 7.0-seconds flat.
Progressing down the track, automatic shifts were very smooth, but also slow; making our ¼-mile time 15.3-seconds at 92 miles-per-hour.
We battled typical understeer through our cone course; and when pushed too hard, onboard computers launched a fun-killing jab of the brakes to reel you in.
Kept just shy of its limits however, the Envision feels very composed and easy to place where you want it. Steering was actually heavier than expected, with better feel than most in this class. Body roll was present, but far from excessive.
Braking was quite good too. 110-feet was our short stopping distance from 60, with above average stability, and an easy to modulate pedal.
Exterior design is frankly rather beautiful, with a smooth shape and hefty proportions; while body lines are very pronounced. Standard wheels are 18s, though most trims ride on 19s.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 20-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined. For an Energy Impact Score of 15.0-barrels on yearly oil consumption with 6.6-tons of CO2 emissions.
Base, Preferred, and Essence trims come with the 2.5-liter, starting at $34,990, to which you can add all-wheel-drive. Premium trims, with the 2.0-liter are all-wheel-drive only, and start at $43,245.
While we were clearly impressed with the Envision, it’s actually hard to imagine any luxurious crossover not being a hit at this point and time. And, Buick has already been successful with the Encore and Enclave crossovers. So, we think the 2017 Buick Envision will be as well. After all, it is the very definition of giving the people exactly what they want.
Engine: 2.0 liter turbo I4
Torque: 260 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.3 seconds @ 92 mph
EPA: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway,
Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.6 tons/yr