made quite some noise for itself just ahead of the start of the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The brand introduced the Avista sport coupe concept, as well as the 2016 Buick Envision. The latter is an all-new model that fills an important gap in Buick’s product line.
Make That Three Buick SUVs
This SUV is not entirely new to GM. Introduced in early 2015 in China, its U.S. arrival is set for this spring. The Buick Envision is also the first made-in-China model from GM. It follows the Volvo S60 Inscription as another vehicle manufactured in China and sold in the U.S.
Buick has positioned the Envision to compete with other upscale models, including the Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and Lincoln MKC. The marque claims that the Envision has more rear cargo space than its competitors. Its passenger volume is also larger than the MKC, providing more rear legroom as well as superior front and rear shoulder room.
“The all-new Buick Envision is a modern, confident and responsive luxury compact crossover that combines the brand’s core characteristics with great performance features like our HiPer strut suspension,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick. “That dynamic experience behind the wheel is complemented by Buick’s signature luxury, whisper-quiet cabin and connectivity features to benefit drivers and passengers alike.”
A Recognizable, Upscale Look
The Envision’s face is an entirely familiar one, with Buick’s tri-shield insignia punctuating its broad grille. Large, wraparound lighting assemblies containing LED daytime running lights are present. A narrow lower grille opening is hemmed in by incisions housing the available fog lamps.
This SUV has firm shoulders, a sloping roofline, a rising beltline, upper character lines along its profile and distinctive body sculpting. Contributing to the Envision’s upscale demeanor are standard 19-inch aluminum wheels shod within all-season tires. At the rear, wraparound combination assemblies with LED accent lights are on hand. The Envision also has a distinctive liftgate spoiler, rear reflectors, chrome embellishments and dual exhaust finishers.
Luxurious Cabin and Generous Amenities
The Envision’s cabin features luxuriant power-operated bucket seats up front and a 60-40 split-folding seat in the rear. Notably, Buick has included kneeling cushions in the second-row seat to provide a flatter load floor when the seat is folded. Thus, cargo space can quickly be expanded from 26.9 cubic feet to 57.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Buick makes generous use of high quality materials throughout the Envision’s cabin, including French-style dual-stitching. Heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel are standard, while cooled front seats are available.
The dash features a three-analog instrument cluster and a wraparound instrument panel that flows into the door panels. The cluster sits behind a newly designed steering wheel that is outfitted with thumb-operated toggle switches, making it easier to scroll through the Envision’s IntelliLink infotainment system.
The center stack is neatly arranged and highlighted by an 8-inch color display serving as the nerve center for infotainment. IntelliLink provides full technology connectivity, including Bluetooth, navigation, and audio. The Envision also has an OnStar telematics system that can serve as a Wi-Fi hot spot and comes with four USB ports, four 12-volt outlets and a 120-volt outlet.
Ample storage space is also included. A large, dual-wing console storage bin between the front seats is easily accessible by the driver and the front passenger, as well the rear-seat passengers. In-door storage pockets with drink holders and a sensibly sized glove box are also on deck.
Other features include a standard Bose audio system, three-zone climate control and an available panoramic moonroof.
One Powertrain Choice
Under the hood, Buick offers one powertrain combination. All models receive a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It’s the same engine powering the Buick Regal GS, but it’s specially tuned for the Envision. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Low-end torque is plentiful in the Envision, with 90 percent of its power achieved from 1,800 rpm. Steering comes from an electric rack-and-pinion system with HiPer Strut front suspension employed to mitigate torque steer while enhancing the steering experience. The rear suspension is composed of a four-link independent arrangement along with a hollow stabilizer bar.
Buick Envision Safety Features
On the safety front, the Buick Envision has 10 standard air bags. A rearview camera is included, while an available Surround Vision system provides a 360-degree view around the vehicle. Notably, this system works at low speeds and is especially useful when parking and reversing.
Additional standard safety features include front park sensors, rear cross traffic alert and lane keeping assist. GM’s Safety Alert Seat is also standard, which vibrates to warn the driver if there’s a crash risk.
Also available is adaptive cruise control and collision mitigating braking. As with all Buick vehicles, the Envision is equipped with OnStar technology featuring an advanced crash response system along with emergency assistance.
The Bottom Line
The Buick Envision provides a natural succession for customers seeking to step up from the Encore without immediately jumping to the Buick Enclave. Given that nearly all Buick and GMC dealerships are united under one roof, the slightly larger GMC Terrain provides another choice for consumers. All the same, Buick has stamped its own signature on the Envision, providing yet another new product for the tri-shield brand.