Despite producing recent flashy auto-show darlings such as the Avista and Avenir concepts, Buick and its offerings have never been a substitute for Red Bull around C/Dheadquarters. It’s a sentiment that extends to the brand’s new Envision compact luxury crossover, which for 2017 begins its first full year on sale. (It debuted as a late 2016 model.) Yet to completely dismiss this China-built crossover for being bland is to overlook its sound execution within an increasingly crowded segment.
The Envision rides on a platform similar to that of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, filling the chasm in Buick’s lineup between the subcompact Encore and the larger, three-row Enclave. We’ve already experienced both of its available four-cylinder engines—a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter and a turbocharged 2.0-liter—and can confirm the new Buick sits in the meat of the crossover market. The Envision is within a few inches here and there of what Buick considers its key rivals, the Acura RDX and the Lincoln MKC. Yet in the $35,000-to-$50,000 space that the Envision range inhabits, the alternatives also include the Audi Q5, BMW’s X1 and X3, and even the similarly new GMC Acadia, among others.
The Buick’s generic, lifted-wagon design quickly fades into the scenery when parked in a lot full of two-box utility vehicles. Save for its shiny waterfall grille, the Envision is almost completely devoid of visual character, especially in our test car’s muted Galaxy Silver Metallic paint ($395). Our particular example was a range-topping Premium II model, which starts at $45,885 and climbed to nearly $50K with its added $1495 panoramic sunroof and the $1545 Driver Confidence package (adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and a surround-view camera system). Premium and Premium II Envisions come only with the 2.0-liter turbo engine that makes a respectable 252 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 2000—a significant upgrade over the 197-hp 2.5-liter. Also included is all-wheel drive, which, unlike the optional system in lesser models, includes a torque-vectoring rear axle that apportions thrust from side to side to help rotate the vehicle in corners. A smooth-shifting six-speed automatic that engages top gear as quickly as possible is the only transmission offered.
What you won’t find in the Envision is a sport setting or paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. (There is an awkward +/- toggle on the gearshifter, though.) Despite the Premium’s high-tech chassis, including the trick rear axle and GM’s HiPer Strut front suspension (a multilink setup sits out back), the Envision’s tuning brings secure and obedient road manners rather than extra capability. There’s zero torque steer under heavy throttle, the helm feels direct if entirely numb, and the assistance of vectored torque at the rear does an admirable job of diminishing understeer in corners. The softly sprung suspension borders on floaty, but there’s enough discipline in the body’s motions to keep the handling relatively neat at moderate speeds. Premium versions also upgrade from standard 18-inch wheels to 19s fitted with 235/50-sized Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 all-season tires, which quickly run out of grip when pushed but help the suspension smooth out broken pavement. The Envision’s insular ride is its standout feature in a herd of overly stiff crossovers on big wheels. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Chris Doane Automotive
This review is about c d.