2019 Buick Envision
Once the nameplate that near-luxury car buyers preferred, Buick has gone through an identity crisis of late. In the USA, its SUV lineup has helped Buick’s cause by creating a trio of luxury offerings at a lower price point than its more premium rivals.
However, Buick is become the brand to buy in China. They love Buick’s balance of luxury and affordability without the pretense of a European brand. It also helps to have a history In China that dates back decades.
In turn, we now benefit from its success in the world’s largest automobile market with one of its best-selling vehicles – the Envision SUV. After a few years in America, this compact SUV has undergone a mid-cycle refresh with some Buick’s latest design elements.
We had a chance to drive the latest Envision to find out whether it has that Buick feeling. Or, to answer the question of would you rather have this Buick?
The Envision is a compact-sized SUV that fits between the subcompact Encore and mid-sized Enclave. Its size lends to familiar Buick design traits, such as the horizontal chrome trim that crowns the Tri-Shield badge, the dual set of “portholes” on the hood and a flowing set of lines that end at a sculpted tailgate with a trimmer set of taillights. This mid-cycle refresh of the Envision now aligns this SUV with the rest of the Buick lineup on this side of the Pacific Ocean.
Inside is a rather interesting cabin design that speaks “Buick” to both new and traditional customers. The instrument binnacle is mostly a TFT screen flanked by analog half-dials. The TFT screen is customizable for either an analog or digital-style speedometer in the middle. The infotainment screen is part of a sweeping gray-wood finish décor – that is not really wood. Controls vary depending on where you look. Some of the center stack controls have solid function and logic, whereas the steering wheel ones provide some issues with finger positioning for better control. We also found some controls, mainly for the climate system, to be quite fussy at times.
The gray leather seating in our Premium II tester offers some bolstering and support. Though it felt somewhat flat with a slippery leather surface. Front seat room is fine for a lot of bodies, but rear seat room can limit taller people to become comfortable. You can recline the rear seatbacks, if need be. Cargo space is quite sizeable, expandable to 57.3 cubic feet with the rear seats down.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
A nine-speed automatic transmission sends power to our tester’s all-wheel-drive system. The powertrain is actually the best part of our tester with great response on the road and smooth shifts. However, we managed an average of 22.3 MPG in terms of fuel consumption.
The ride quality is pretty good. It does absorb not-so-good roads well and provides a smooth ride on better surfaces. Handling is quite good, though one would expect some softness on maneuvers. Brakes offer sold stops in all conditions. We like the pedal feel on the Envision. We were surprised by the steering action. Although it feels artificial, it does offer a tight turning radius and solid action from the wheel.
Pricing for the Buick Envision starts at $31,995. Our Premium II AWD tester came with a sticker price of $49,925.
Buick sees the Envision as playing in the premium-brand market instead of the mainstream one. The closest vehicle in competition to the Envision is the Acura RDX. However, you can add the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar E-Pace, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Cadillac XT4, GMC Terrain Denali, Lincoln MKC, Lexus NX, and Infiniti QX50 to your shopping list, as well.
There is no question that the Envision helps Buick’s image in China as a premium compact SUV. In this country, we see the Envision as a vehicle that fits well with the brand’s traditional customers. It may be a good choice looking to step up from mainstream offerings without paying luxury SUV prices.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors