In 2017, Buick asked us to envision a new type of Buick. One that was not only built overseas, but designed to compete in the global compact luxury utility segment. And now that Buick is exclusively an SUV brand here, there’s more riding on it than ever. So let’s take a look at the redesigned Buick Envision.
The 2021 Envision is a critical vehicle as Buick’s entry into the expanding compact luxury SUV market. And, while the Envision nameplate got off to a slow start in the U.S., Buick sold almost 5-times as many in China last year. That makes for big brand numbers.
Originally based on Chevrolet’s Equinox chassis, the all-new envision moves over to Cadillac’s XT4 platform. Still assembled in China, wheelbase grows about an inch, while overall length gets a tad shorter. But, it’s almost 2-inches wider, and sits more than 2-inches lower, with a wider track. For a look that’s more purposeful and athletic.
The sole engine is a 2.0-liter I4 turbo. At 228–horsepower and 258 lb-ft. Of torque, it’s a little down on power compared to the previously optional 2.0-liter; but a new 9-speed transmission better manages power and overcomes any shortfalls.
No traditional shifter, just of row of electronic switches which we found a little slow to respond.
All-wheel-drive is available, although Buick sent us a front drive tester.
So, it’s off to Mason Dixon Dragway to see how the new powertrain measures up.
It’s quite spirited off the line, with noticeable torque steer lasting even into 2nd gear. We hit 60 in 6.5-seconds, which is a ½ second quicker than before.
The engine continues its eager ways the whole trip down the track; gear shifts are quick yet also silky smooth. It even sounds good. Our best ¼-mile time, a very respectable 15.1 at 94 miles-per-hour.
But, that’s where the fun times end. Taking to our slalom course, the luxury intent of this Envision is clear. There was a fair amount of body roll, with steering that was both light and numb.
But, what held us back the most was as soon as it sensed a hint of understeer, it stabs the brakes for you. Similar to what we noted in our recent Chevrolet Tahoe road test. We sure hope this safety at all cost approach doesn’t filter its way throughout all GM vehicles.
On the positive side, the brakes were great! Also it seems another GM trend in the making. Nice, stable stops from 60 averaged an excellent 110-feet.
The Envision is available in 3 levels of fitment, Preferred, Essence, and Avenir; each with specifics that easily set them apart. The available sport touring package has its own touches, including dark trim and 20-inch wheels.
Our Essence had well done interior fit and finish with very competitive materials. Either a standard 8-inch, or available 10-inch Buick infotainment touchscreen is smoothly integrated into the dash, though also quite tilted towards the driver. However, system operation is very intuitive and easy.
5-passenger seating in this 2-row utility; fronts are more firm than cushy, but hold up well for long day trips.
A power lift-gate is standard on all but base trim. The slightly tidier exterior size means cargo space has shrunk a little from last year. Still 25.2 cubic-ft. In back, 52.7 with rear seatbacks folded, is again competitive.
On the other hand, Buick has packed in plenty of safety features; Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Seat Reminder are all standard.
Possibly the most luxurious element of the new envision, is ride quality. It remains very smooth over just about any road surface; and Buick’s QuietTuning is not just marketing jargon, it is indeed very quiet inside.
The new engine and transmission combo not only improve performance, but has boosted government fuel economy ratings significantly to 24-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined for front-wheel-drive. Our average, right on, at 25.9 miles-per-gallon of regular.
Government ratings equal an average energy impact score at 12.7-barrels of annual petroleum consumption, with 5.6-tons of co2 emissions.
Envision pricing is more than reasonable, sitting at the lower end of the compact luxury crossover class at just $32,995 to start, $36,995 for Essence, with top Avenir at $41,395. All-wheel-drive an $1,800 option.
For well over 100 years, Buick was been viewed as a “premium” car brand, with offerings that are a clear step up from mass market brands, yet not quite full-tilt “luxury” in poshness or price. While that distinction is lost on many of today’s car buyers, the 2021 Buick Envision clearly embodies that aspirational approach; loaded with safety, tech, and fine furnishings, yet still very attainable. No wonder Envision is a hit in China. And, it deserves to be one here too.
Engine: 2.0L I4 Turbo
Torque: 258 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.1 seconds @ 94 mph
EPA: 24 City / 31 Highway / 26 Combined