The Buick Envision is a compact crossover from GM’s near-luxury Buick brand, and perhaps unsurprisingly, its slowest-selling utility vehicle in the U.S.
New for 2020: The Envision carries over unchanged from 2019.
Why unsurprising? Because as hot as utility vehicles are at the moment, the Chinese-built Envision was the target of much derision leading up to its launch. American consumers didn’t much like the prospect of a Chinese-built vehicle, and the US’s auto manufacturing workers had some strong feelings about its overseas production.
Still, the Buick Envision is apparently an important enough vehicle in GM’s eyes that for now, the automaker is paying new, higher import duties without raising the vehicle’s price. Prior to the Envision, Buick had nothing to plug the hole in its lineup between its tiny Encore and its large, three-row Enclave. That’s a pretty big gulf.
Part and parcel for GM’s tri-shield brand, the Buick Envision offers a premium vehicle experience at a sub-premium price. Heated front seats, a power liftgate, and a swanky cabin trimmed with upscale materials comes standard from a low base price of $33,190, including destination.
Pros/ Refined powertrain / Plenty of premium materials
Cons/Cabin on the noisy side / Bouncy ride / Sleepy styling
Bottom Line/The Buick Envision is perhaps too little, too late in the competitive up-market compact CUV class.
Table of contents
Find everything you need to know about the Buick Envision here, along with expert reviews, specs, photos, videos and more.
Buick Envision Pricing
The 2020 Buick Envision is priced from $33,190 in the U.S. market, including an $1,195 destination fee, at the base 1SV trim level. The 1SV is only available in front-wheel-drive, with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission. That 2.5-liter is the only engine available at the higher Preferred and Essence trims, too. Those models start at $34,695 and $36,995, respectively, with all-wheel drive a $1,750 option.
Only at the top-spec Premium and Premium II trims does one get access to Buick’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. On those trims, which start at $41,895 and $44,795, respectively, a more sophisticated twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system comes fitted as standard, as does a nine-speed automatic transmission. Load up a Buick Envision Premium II as far as you can before dealer-installed accessories and the price will cross the $50,000 mark.
Buick Envision Features
Like other Buick models, the Buick Envision prioritizes comfort and convenience above all else from the base trim. It offers standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system; standard heated front seats; standard rear park assist; and a standard hands-free power liftgate. The third trim up in the hierarchy—the Essence—adds standard niceties like perforated leather seating, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, tri-zone climate control, and heated steering.
One will need to step up to the Premium or Premium II trim to get the full high-tech experience. LED headlamps, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and Bose audio with seven speakers and a premium audio amplifier are all standard on those trims. On the Premium II, you also get a head up display, automatic park assist, front seat cooling, and wireless smartphone charging.
Buick Envision vs Lincoln Corsair
With a starting price of $36,940 including destination, the 2020 Lincoln Corsair starts nearly $4,000 higher than the Buick Envision—a not-insignificant amount. Granted, with more standard equipment from the base model—things like a lane keeping system and blind spot monitoring, for instance—that price jump could be justified.
What’s more, the Lincoln Corsair offers more power, with nearly identical fuel economy to the Buick Envision, along with a quieter, more comfortable ride.
Buick Envision vs Acura RDX
Unlike most of the Buick Envision’s competitors, the Acura RDX offers just one engine: a 2.0-liter turbo-four capable of an impressive 272 horsepower. Even with a basic model, you get truly solid performance. Of course, you pay for that; the RDX has a $38,595 starting price—a whopping $5,400 above the Buick Envision.
If you want to get into an upscale, well-appointed compact crossover cheaply, the Acura is certainly not the way to do it. The Buick Envision is a comparative bargain, although you might end up spending just as much on the Buick if you need things like automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist, both of which are standard on the RDX.
Buick Envision vs Lexus NX
The Lexus NX is a real looker, and with a starting price some $4,700 above that of the Buick, you’d better believe it’s more feature-rich—although arguably not as feature-rich as it should be, for the money. It packs the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite of active safety technologies, which includes forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert, and more.
But the Lexus’s 2.0-liter turbo engine can’t measure up to the Buick’s range-topping motor, and its automatic has jut six speeds to the Buick’s nine—although that doesn’t seem to impair fuel economy.
2017 Buick Envision Video Review
|Engine /||2.5L 4-cyl / 2.0L turbo 4-cyl|
|Horsepower /||197 / 252|
|Torque /||192 lb-ft / 260 lb-ft|
|Transmission /||6-speed automatic / 9-speed automatic|
|Drivetrain /||Front-wheel-drive / All-wheel-drive|
Our Final Verdict
There’s nothing specifically wrong with the Buick Envision, apart from the fact that it came to market a bit late, allowing other semi-premium compact crossovers to get a head start on building a loyal customer base. In typical Buick fashion, the powertrain is smooth and perfectly competent without lighting the world on fire, and equipment is packaged in such a way that even from the base trim level, you get a pleasant, upscale experience—although you’ll have to do without some popular active safety tech.
But in such a hot segment, “adequate” isn’t adequate enough, and the Buick Envision, with its sleepy styling and somewhat jostling ride, wouldn’t be our first choice.