Historically, Buick has served as GM’s premium brand, delivering a slew of car models of distinction. Today, Buick maintains its position between Chevrolet and Cadillac, but its model line and sales are skewed heavily toward utility vehicles.
The Buick marque has successfully adapted to changing consumer tastes, delivering three SUVs to consumers: Encore (subcompact), Envision (compact/midsize), and Enclave (midsize, three rows). Yes, the LaCrosse sedan and Regal hatchback and wagon remain, but the first model is in its final year, while the future of the Opel-supplied Regal is uncertain.
Auto Trends received a 2019 Buick Envision for testing in July, a model offering naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. Two transmission choices, front- and all-wheel drive, and five trims are available. The Envision rolled out in 2017 and is GM’s first made-in-China utility vehicle sold stateside.
2019 Buick Envision Overview
The 2019 Envision’s five trims include Envision ($31,995), Preferred ($35,250), Essence ($37,550), Premium I ($40,700), and Premium II ($43,600) trims. Add $1,195 for the destination charge. Choose the optional all-wheel drive, which is available in the Preferred and Essence trims and your cost rises by $3,255. The two top trims supply standard all-wheel drive.
Most models come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which generates 197 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. This engine works with a six-speed automatic transmission. Also available is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 252 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Buick pairs this engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Competing models include the Volvo XC60, Acura RDX, Lincoln Corsair, and the Jaguar F-Pace. We also think a few of the top-trim versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, and Nissan Murano are worth comparing.
A Matter of Style
From stem to stern, the 2019 Envision wears its Buick skin well. The front fascia is punctuated by the brand’s emblematic grille, which is offset by tear-dropped-shaped headlamps. A broad lower grille opening is honed in by available fog lamps.
Along the sides, the beltline rises to intersect with the gently falling roofline. Deep body sculpting and painted aluminum or alloy wheels impart gracefulness. From the rear, the clamshell liftgate features wraparound tail lamps. On some models diffuser-like trim with dual-exhaust ports raises the styling quotient.
Inside, the cabin isn’t especially roomy, delivering sufficient room for four or five in a pinch. You’ll sit tightly in the back with two others if you dare. Otherwise, we recommend upgrading to the Enclave or moving over to the GMC Acadia, which is usually sold in the same showrooms as Buick.
The Envision features a layered dashboard, a broad center console, and sculptured door panels. You’ll find a variety of materials in place, including a long slab of imitation wood across the dashboard, with leather trim on some models. The brown and beige interior of our test model was certainly attractive, something we would expect Buick to deliver.
All models come with keyless entry and push-button start, a reclining and sliding second-row seat that also folds, full power accessories, power-controlled and heated front seats, and air conditioning. Cloth and imitation leather seats are standard. Some models feature leather seats. Other upgrades include a heated steering wheel and heated outboard rear seats.
Safety and Technology
Both the NHTSA and IIHS award the Envision with favorable crash test ratings. Indeed, the NHTSA assigns its top 5-star rating to this SUV.
But there is some disappointment with the Envision and that is its available driver-assist safety technology. Like other premium brands (not just GM), most of the advanced technologies available today cost more and are optional on the top trims only.
These features include adaptive cruise control and forward automatic braking, which are bundled with a surround vision camera as part of a $1,545 Driver Confidence Package. Mainstream brands such as Toyota offer many driver-assist features as standard equipment or at least deliver packages available across the model line.
Other driver-assist features such as lane keep assist with lane departure warning and forward collision alert are standard beginning with the Premium I trim. The Premium II trim adds a head-up display.
Buick equips the 2019 Envision with a six-speaker audio system and an 8-inch touchscreen display. OnStar safety and security features, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility come standard. Most models have two front USB ports. Available equipment includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, and a pair of rear charging-only USB ports in the rear center console.
On the Road
Our test model had the turbocharged engine. It is offered in a variety of applications across various Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac models.
We were pleased by the amount of power supplied — from step-off acceleration to passing performance. With a little lag of note, this turbo spools quickly and convincingly. It offers an excellent substitute for a V6.
Steering is precise and evenly weighted. The Envision shines on the straightaways and holds its own on curvy roads. Braking is firm, the ride is comfortable and the interior is quiet — the latter trait is a Buick standard.
Credit GM with building a wonderful and modern 9-speed automatic transmission. It works seamlessly in the background and is hardly noticeable, which is what customers want.
As for the base engine, we think it’ll suit the majority of shoppers, but it offers just a 2 mpg edge over the turbo. Thus, opting for more power supplies the performance benefit you may want and brings in all-wheel drive as well. The latter does, of course, supply an extra measure of stability when power is sent to all four corners.
Auto Trends Recommends
We think starting your search with the Preferred trim is the right way to go. This model adds a hands-free power liftgate and rear part assist. We also noticed that as of this writing, the Preferred trim carries a generous discount, lowering its price below the base model.
Choose all-wheel drive if you live where winter conditions prevail. Of course, if you want all of the available driver-assist technologies, you’ll have to pay for it by selecting the top-trim model and related safety package. But only choose this if you can negotiate by bringing your final cost close to $40,000.
2019 Buick Envision Specifications
|Base Sticker Price||$33,190 (including a $1,195 destination charge)|
|Price as tested||$49,030|
|Engine No. 1||2.5-liter, inline-four|
|Horsepower||197 @ 6,300 RPMs|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||192 @ 4,400 RPMs|
|Engine No. 2||2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-four|
|Horsepower||252 @ 5,500 RPMs|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||295 @ 3,000 RPMs|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||3,755 to 4,083|
|Headroom (f,r…inches)||40.0, 38.5|
|Legroom (f,r…inches)||40.9, 37.5|
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)||57.0, 55.8|
|Hip room (f,r…inches)||54.4, 53.1|
|Storage (cubic feet)||26.9/57.3|
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||NR|
|Fuel Tank (gallons)||17.3|
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway)||22/29/25 (I4); 20/25/22 (turbo) city/highway/combined|
|Manufacturing Plant||Yantai, Shandong China|
See Also — Sportback Performance: Buick Regal GS
2019 Buick Envision photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.