Looking ahead with the 2021 Buick Envision
When it comes to Buick SUVs, it’s all about size. To some, the Buick Enclave, their flagship vehicle, is too big. And the subcompact Buick Encore is simply too small. Slotted right in between the two is the Buick Envision, about the size of a typical Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, which seems to be a popular size SUV these days.
The Envision is all-new for 2021 and like the first generation that came out in 2015, it continues to be built exclusively in China, alongside the Cadillac XT4 with which it shares its platform. This new Envision has a more upscale appearance with its nicely tailored sheetmetal. It’s wider and lower than the model it replaces, but it’s also slightly shorter which means cargo space drops by a few cubic feet in the new model.
Inside, the five-passenger SUV is a clean simple look. The center dash is canted towards the driver making the infotainment touchscreen an easy reach. And there is no bulky shifter – instead, a push-button gear selector is used – which really frees up the center console area. Interior space is good for those up front. Backseat passengers, though, if tall, may feel a bit cramped on long trips, so plan accordingly.
When it comes to cargo space, the Envision has 25 cubic feet of storage space behind the back seat. Fold the backseats down, and that increases to more than 52 cubic feet. Both of these numbers are down slightly from the previous model.
Just how fancy the Envision’s cabin is will play in part to the trim level chosen. The base Preferred trim level will have a power driver’s seat, 8-inch touchscreen, keyless entry and ignition and wireless connectivity for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Move up to the Essence, which is how the tester arrived, and the Envision gets a larger 10.2-inch touchscreen, hands-free liftgate, remote ignition, heated front seats and heated steering wheel. The top-of-the-line Avenir dresses up the Envision nicely with a heads-up display, diamond-quilted leather seats, vented seats, heated rear seats, driver’s seat massager and a surround-view camera.
Under the hood of every new Envision is a turbocharged 228-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. This new engine replaces the previous model’s base 2.5 liter engine as well as the optional same-size 2.0 liter turbocharged engine.
The Envision is a nice driver, with plenty of power from the boosted four-cylinder. The engine is hardly smooth, but it does deliver good power. Handling is what you would expect from an SUV – the Envision feels well planted, but hardly sporty. So if you are looking for a performance SUV, this is not it. But what the Envision does deliver is a very quiet serene ride, even at highway speeds.
Buick says the Envision is intended to compete against the Acura RDX, the Infiniti QX50, and the Lincoln Corsair. My Envision Essence, while nice, was not as fancy as its competitors, did have the price advantage. The Preferred Envision starts well under $35,000 while the others all start above that mark. Going with the Essence trim level means the Envision will start at $35,800. The Technology Package ($2500) that the tester had equipped with Envision with a heads-up display, surround camera and Bose audio system.
The 2021 Buick Envision is one of those vehicles that is hard to find fault with, but at the same time doesn’t really shine in any certain area. It’s a nice little SUV and if you liked the previous Envision, you will certainly like this new one. Or if you like Buicks and find the Enclave too big and the Encore too small – well the Envision certainly is certainly sized right.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2021 Buick Envision Essence FWD
Base Price: $35,800.00
Price as Tested: $40,820.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission: nine-speed automatic
Horsepower: 228 hp
Torque: 258 lb/ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 24 city / 31 highway mpg
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