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- Highs Distinguished styling, quiet and comfortable interior, priced under European rivals.
- Lows Tepid base engine, staid driving dynamics, cabin falls short of luxury competitors.
- Verdict Although a step up from mainstream SUVs, the Envision doesn't quite reach its luxury-class intentions.
Buick has had some success recently in the North American market primarily from two sport-utility models, the large three-row Enclave and the subcompact Encore crossover. Late in the 2016 model year, Buick filled the gap between them with the Envision, a two-row, five-passenger model from the hottest segment in the industry, the compact SUV. The Envision is built in GM’s Beijing assembly plant, making it the second volume vehicle built in China and sold in North America, after the Volvo S60 Inscription sedan. The few 2016 Buick Envisions imported here in the waning months of that model year all were fully equipped Premium trim models.
What's New for 2017?
The Envision's Base, Preferred and Essence trim levels join the top-spec Premium I and Premium II models. The standard engine is now a naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter inline-four, and it's available with front- or all-wheel-drive. Envision Base (primarily a rental-lot model) and Preferred come with cloth seats, though backup camera, power liftgate, rear parking sensors, and Teen Driving mode all come as standard equipment. Higher trims add features like 18-inch polished alloy wheels, satin silver roof rails, and a host of interior upgrades.
- Base: $34,990
- Preferred: $36,795
- Essence: $38,645
- Premium I: $43,245
- Premium II: $45,885
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Envision's base engine is a tried-and-true, but barely adequate, naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four that makes 197 horsepower and is available with front- or all-wheel drive. Upgrade to the Premium trim and you get a more spirited 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four and an AWD system that can direct torque up to 100 percent to the front or rear, as needed. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Premiums also come with Buick’s HiPer Strut front suspension, providing a tighter turning radius and virtually no torque steer. Go with either engine and the Envision fulfills the Buick stereotype for quiet and smoothness, but you’ll want the 2.0-liter turbo and HiPer Strut front suspension for livelier acceleration and a more responsive chassis. Even with quicker steering and firmer damping, and 19-inch wheels with 50-series tires, the Essence Premiums remain committed to a quiet, comfortable ride, rather than handling prowess.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Fit and finish inside the Envision are befitting of Buick’s premium-brand image, with quality plastics and soft touch points on the doors and dash. But even the top-trim models fall short of the luxury found in European competitors. The Base and Preferred trims come with such features as heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and remote start. The Essence adds leather upholstery, seats that are power-operated in front and heated front and rear, plus passive keyless entry. The Premium trim levels add items like a head-up display, ventilated and cooled seats, perforated leather upholstery, and GM’s trick video camera rearview mirror. Cargo space is 26.9 cubic feet behind the second-row seat and a generous 57.3 cubic feet behind the first row.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Base Envision's standard tech includes an 8.0-inch color touchscreen with Intellilink connectivity, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, and a six-speaker stereo. Options and higher trim levels add features like navigation and a seven-speaker premium Bose audio system.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.