On paper, the Buick Envision 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. When we originally tested it we found it rather half-baked but for 2019 the car received a few improvements.
Buick has built its reputation by building vehicles that are quiet and comfortable riding, but the Envision doesn't quite 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 noticeable, which could make a highway cruise tiring.
Despite its compact dimensions, the Envision is clumsy when cornering, lacking a sense of precision and control. 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. Fuel economy doesn't stand out for the class at 21 mpg overall in our tests.
Flat contours and flaccid cushions leave the front seats short on support. Low dashboard air vents tend to freeze your elbows while leaving the upper cabin stuffy. While the rear is roomy, headroom is marginal in versions that have a sunroof. 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.
Overall, the Envision is not as thoroughly developed as most competitors. It has some zip but the driving experience is dull.