2021 Buick Envision Essence AWD

2021 Buick Envision Essence AWD

The Envision is Buick’s compact crossover, fitting in the line-up between the smaller Encore and larger Enclave. It’s redesigned for 2021 and offers a smooth, comfortable ride, decent passenger and cargo space, a user-friendly infotainment system and good fuel economy, all at a lower price than many rivals.

Base Price: $37,600
As Tested: $41,790
Horsepower: 228
Mileage: 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined

The five-passenger Envision comes in three trims: Preferred, Essence and Avenir. The Preferred trim starts at $31,800, one of the lowest starting prices among compact crossover. The Avenir starts at $40,200, which is below average for a top trim in the class. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is available on all trims for $1,800.

All trims get the same new engine: a turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder that makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Envision is not super sporty but does deliver a comfortable ride with decent driving dynamics. Acceleration from a stop is quick with little turbo lag and there’s enough power for merging and passing at freeway speeds. Brakes and steering are responsive and the nine-speed shifts quickly and smoothly. There’s only a little body roll when cornering. Visibility is good all the way around. While the Envision doesn’t have the nimble handling of some rivals, it is easy to drive and can handle most driving situations.

The gear shift isn’t a traditional shifter; instead it’s an electronic system that uses buttons instead of a mechanical shift lever. Buick says this design frees up space under the console.

When properly equipped, the Envision can tow up to 1,500 pounds.

Fuel economy is good for the class. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with a combined rating of 25. I got 24 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The cabin is pleasant with a clean, simple layout. Materials are nice, for the most part. Seats are comfortable, and even taller adults will have enough room in the front row. Although there’s seating for three in the second row, it’s more suitable for two, especially if the second-row passengers are adults.

Even the base trim comes well equipped. Standard features include a rearview camera, cloth and faux leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, eight-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, two USB ports, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a rear seat reminder.

Available features include remote start, surround-view camera system, head-up display, dual-zone automatic climate control, real leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, massaging front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, 10.2-inch touchscreen, seven-speaker audio system, nine-speaker Bose audio system, HD Radio, navigation, additional USB ports, wireless device charging, Amazon Alexa integration, panoramic moonroof and air ionizer.

Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, lane change alert, front pedestrian braking, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. Also standard is GM’s Teen Driver system which lets you set speed and audio volume limits for your young drivers.

Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, front parking sensors, and parallel and perpendicular park assist. Buick’s Rear Camera Mirror is also available. This system displays a camera feed through the rearview mirror for a wider view compared to a traditional rearview mirror.

The infotainment system is user-friendly. My tester has the larger screen and it looks great with sharp graphics. The screen is angled toward the driver so it’s easy for the driver to see and reach; however, it can be a bit awkward for the front passenger to see and reach some of the controls. While wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, you may want to still use a cord to connect because the system responds more quickly that way.

The Envision has 25.2 cubic feet of cargo space with both rows of seating in place, which is about average for a compact crossover. There are 52.7 cubes with the second row folded, which is less than some rivals. The second row split-folds 60/40. A hands-free power liftgate is available.

The good:

Decent handling

Smooth ride

Pleasant interior

User-friendly infotainment system

Lots of standard features

Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Not as sporty as some rivals

Infotainment system can be difficult for front passenger to reach

Less total cargo space than some competitors

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $37,600. The Technology Package is $2,500 and adds HD Surround Vision, head-up display, Bose nine-speaker premium audio system, front park assist, memory card receptacle, Buick infotainment system with navigation

Bottom line:

The 2021 Buick Envision does a lot of things right and is a solid offering among compact crossovers. While it’s not as nimble as some rivals, the Envision offers a comfortable ride, good fuel economy, a user-friendly infotainment system, and a relatively low sticker price.

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