Underdeveloped, overpriced, and over here. That's the story of the Buick Envision. On paper, this new addition to the Buick family looks appealing. It's a semi-luxury, handily-sized SUV with plenty of standard equipment, emulating the concept of competitors from Audi, BMW, and Lexus. Built in China, where Buick is very popular, the Envision bridges the gap between the small Encore and large Enclave.
While it has potential, the Envision isn't fully baked. The crossover falls short on ride comfort, noise isolation, and handling agility. On top of that, the Envision's price--$45,000 as tested--is not commensurate with its merit. It's overpriced by about $10,000.
Buick has built its reputation by building vehicles that are quiet and comfortable riding, but the Envision doesn't deliver here. At first blush, the ride seems absorbent, but that's only a thin veneer; as miles are traveled, impacts punch through and the SUV bobs and rocks. Wind noise is pronounced, making a highway cruise tiring.
Despite its compact dimensions, the Envision is clumsy and uncoordinated when cornering, lacking a sense of precision and control. And that's not helped by the vague steering and mushy brake pedal. Ultimately though, the Envision proved secure with sound performance in our avoidance maneuver and braking tests.
Two engines are available, a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the uplevel 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder we opted for in our test car. While the base engine comes with either front- or all-wheel drive, the uplevel engine comes only with AWD. Power proves to be no problem. However, the six-speed automatic transmission isn't a smooth operator and fuel economy doesn't stand out at 21 mpg overall in our tests.
Flat contours and flaccid cushions leave the front seats short on support. Low, recessed dashboard air vents tend to freeze your elbows while leaving the upper cabin stuffy. While the rear is roomy, headroom is marginal. To the Envision's credit, big doors and chair-height seats provide super-easy access. The Buick's connectivity is comprehensive, and the IntelliLink touch screen infotainment system is easy to use.
Forward-collision warning (FCW) is not available with the base engine; it comes standard with the turbo. Unlike most cars, automatic emergency braking (AEB) isn't included with FCW; it is only optional on the very top level trim.
Regardless of country of origin, it is clear that he Envision isn't thoroughly developed. Adding insult to injury, there is a disconnect between the price and the car's list of assets and liabilities. For perspective, a $30,000 Ford Escape is more refined and drives dramatically better than the supposedly fancy-pants Envision.