2021 Buick Envision: First Drive Review

© General Motors2021 Buick Envision
Buick’s Envision compact premium crossover receives a redesign for 2021, replete with a new exterior look and a more upscale interior. The automaker also adds a top-of-the line Avenir trim level to broaden the appeal of the 2021 Buick Envision to luxury buyers. Larger than the compact Encore and smaller than the midsize Enclave in the Buick crossover family, Envision joined the lineup for the 2016 model year.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Design
The first major redesign since the model debuted, the 2021 Buick Envision looks more athletic and refined than the previous generation with a lower, wider stance and the addition of a Sport Touring Package. The new front-end design looks similar to the Encore GX introduced last year, although the wider, narrower grille and the longer, flatter roofline elongate the profile. The body sides include sculpted accent lines and the narrow yet wide taillights also accentuate the Envision’s the width. This new design not only looks lower and wider, it is — 2.2 inches shorter and 1.7 inches wider, riding on a 1.5-inch longer wheelbase, although the overall length shrinks by 1.2 inches.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
Buick offers the 2021 Envision in three trim levels: Preferred, Essence and Avenir. The starting price for Envision Preferred is $32,995; the Essence starts at $36,995; and Avenir starts at $41,395. All prices include a destination charge of $1,195. A Sport Touring package is offered for Essence and Avenir at $1,325.

© General MotorsStandard Equipment
Standard equipment for the 2021 Buick Envision includes QuietTuning Technology with Active Noise Cancellation, Buick Driver Confidence Plus, Wireless Apple CarPlay compatibility, Wireless Android Auto compatibility, a Buick Infotainment system with an 8.0-inch color touchscreen, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.2-inch driver information center, 18-inch aluminum wheels with a Bright Silver finish, LED headlights and taillights, and heated outside mirrors.

© General MotorsEnvision Essence
The Essence trim level adds perforated leather seats, an 8.0-inch color driver information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, an In-Vehicle Air Ionizer with air quality indicator, a hands-free programmable power liftgate, heated front seats and steering wheel, Buick Infotainment System with 10.2-inch touchscreen, and 18-inch machined aluminum wheels with a Charcoal Metallic finish. The available Sport Touring package includes a Dark Gloss Finish Grille with tinted chrome inserts, high-gloss black and tinted chrome trim and 20-inch aluminum wheels with a Dark Finish.

© General MotorsEnvision Avenir
The new top-of the-line Avenir trim features Black Ice Chrome grille mesh, body-color rocker panels, body-color wheel arches, clear-lens LED taillights with swipe turn sequence, and 20-inch aluminum wheels with a Pearl Nickel finish. Inside, Avenir adds diamond perforated leather seat inserts, Avenir trim with a wave pattern on the doors, and the model name embroidered on front-seat head restraints. The Avenir trim also includes special door sill plates and a color head-up display, a Buick Infotainment with Navigation, a Bose 9-speaker premium audio system, HD surround vision and front park assist.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceTest Vehicle
Buick provided us with a 2021 Envision Essence AWD to test, finished in Ebony Twilight Metallic with a two-tone interior in Whisper Beige with Ebony. Equipped with the optional Technology Package for an additional $2,500, the total price as tested came to $41,790. The Technology Package includes HD surround vision, a head-up display, a Bose 9-speaker premium audio system, front park assist, Buick Infotainment with Navigation, a 10.2-inch touchscreen display and HD radio.

© General MotorsUnder the Hood
Envision draws power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoTec engine that produces 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from 1500 to 4000 rpm, mated with a 9-speed automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive with electronically controlled twin-clutch operation is available for all trim levels for an additional $1,800.

© General MotorsBuick Driver Confidence Plus
Buick’s Driver Confidence Plus group of standard safety features for Envision includes front pedestrian braking, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, following distance indicator, Intellibeam auto high-beam headlights, lane change alert with side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and rear park assist.

© General MotorsInner Space
Many automotive interior designs have been described as driver centric, but the Envision design actually feels focused on the driver thanks to a center infotainment screen angled toward the pilot, as well as the climate control switches below and an asymmetrical center console with an integrated passenger-side grab handle. The center console includes Buick’s Electronic Precision Shift — an electronic gear selector that uses push and pull buttons — covered storage at the front, additional storage below and a split-center armrest covering the rear storage compartment. Five-passenger seating is standard with 25.2 cubic feet of storage behind the second-row seat, as well as 52.7 cubic feet when the second row is folded flat.

© General MotorsOn the Road
The 2021 Buick Envision delivers a quiet, smooth ride with plenty of power from the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with maximum torque at low rpm. When equipped with AWD, four driver modes are offered: Tour, AWD, Sport and Off Road. Tour is front-drive only and even in the AWD setting it’s easy to initiate a little front wheelspin before power gets directed to the rear axle. Sport not only adds more responsive throttle and a more aggressive shift map, but also better overall balance with power directed quickly to the rear axle when needed. The stiffer body structure and 5-link independent rear suspension are designed to achieve smooth ride quality yet also respond well to more aggressive driving on winding roads.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceAppealing Interior
The Envision interior design is extremely appealing, and the Essence trim in Whisper Beige leather adds to the upscale feeling. Interior trim includes a carbon fiber pattern and accent lighting on the dash and the door panels. The infotainment interface is easy to use and includes volume control and channel selection knobs. The instrument cluster has dual analog gauges with a large center driver-information display that is both easy to read and to configure. A couple caveats: The steering wheel feels a bit too thick at the 3- and 9- o’clock positions, and the A-pillar and outside mirror create a blind spot on each side.

© General MotorsRight for You?
Many buyers have abandoned sedans in favor of crossovers, creating a hot market segment with many new models arriving all the time. With the 2021 Envision, Buick delivers a more attractive, more refined and upscale model that has the potential to be incredibly competitive within the category. For shoppers in market for a compact premium crossover, the Envision should be high in their consideration set.

© General MotorsRating: 8.5
Pros: Attractive exterior design; driver-centric upscale interior; good infotainment interface; available all-wheel drive.
Cons: Steering wheel shape; thick A-pillars.
Bottom Line: Buick redesigns the Envision with a more athletic exterior, a more driver-focused interior, upscale trim options and a quality infotainment system.

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