2021 Buick Envision
2021 Buick Envision
The 2021 Buick Envision is a five-seat crossover made in China. It has exceptionally sleek new styling, and its mid-size interior has more space for people and cargo.
Under the fresh bodywork lies a more refined chassis and a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Backing it up is a 9-speed automatic that sends power to either the front or all four wheels. The EPA says the Envision is good for 24 mpg city, 31 highway, 26 combined in front-drive form or 22/29/25 mpg with all-wheel drive.
Every Envision gets standard automatic emergency braking, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control. Pay a bit more and you can get adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and a head-up display.
The 2021 Envision hasn’t been crash-tested.
While the new range-topping Avenir takes the spotlight, more buyers will find themselves bringing home the more modest Preferred trim. Starting at $33,490, the Preferred comes standard with features such as synthetic leather and cloth upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a power driver’s seat, LED headlights, and 18-inch wheels.
Moving into the $37,490 Essence adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, remote start, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen.
The fanciest Envision is the Avenir, which begins at $41,890. It’s loaded up with heated rear seats, a surround-view camera system, 20-inch wheels, and navigation.
The new Envision is both sporty and alluring; the lines are chiseled and sculpted. The bluff front end and the flat, creased hood lead the eye to an upright and shapely rear end. It’s a two-box design, but these are two mighty attractive boxes.
The back end finishes things off with a trim overhang, slim taillights, and a raked backlight that bridges a tapered roof and upright hatch. We want to call it sporty, but more specifically the Envision is athletic, limber, and exceedingly tasteful. The elegance of it lies in its deft detailing and excellent proportions. Is this the best-looking Buick in the lineup? We’d answer that with an emphatic yes.
Buick has done up the Envision’s cabin with the same relish it has redesigned the exterior. A distinct, driver-centric layout gives the impression of a cockpit; dark glossy trims and a thick-rimmed steering wheel bring a sporting flair. We question some of the ergonomics—you need to reach around the steering wheel to twist the radio knobs—but the fit and finish is appropriate for the price point.
Buck builds base Envisions with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, but moving into the Essence and Avenir trims brings along a 10.2 inch touchscreen. Both are easy to use and feature wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a wi-fi hotspot. The screen cants strongly towards the driver, so passengers hoping to act as the MC will probably end up relinquishing control to their chauffeur.
The Envision has power-adjustable front seats with synthetic leather and cloth upholstery right off the bat. By the time you arrive at the Avenir trim, perforated leather seats that heat, cool, and massage take center stage. Those indulgences aren’t necessary to be comfortable, though. The base seats offer plenty of cushion and support.
Back-seat passengers are spoiled with nicely contoured seats, good leg and shoulder room, and big windows that afford an expansive view outward. Head room is tighter when the panoramic sunroof is ordered, but otherwise you don’t need to doff your cap to sit upright in the back.
The Envision has 25 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and 53 total cubic feet of room for stuff.
While the outgoing Envision offered both a base 197-horsepower inline and a meaty 252 turbo 4, the 2021 splits the difference with a single turbo-4 that churns out 228 horsepower.
While we miss the punch of the outgoing turbo-4, the new Envision is no slouch. Its 258 Ib-ft of torque hits by 1,500 rpm and doesn’t drop off until the needle on the tach is north of 5,000 rpm. At lower speeds, the notion of speed feels empowering; it’s easy enough to dart across a multi-lane or scoot into a gap in traffic.
It’s in the upper registers of the speedometer where the illusion fades. Passing power on the highway is there, but the refinement fades as the engine’s efforts begin to penetrate the layers of active sound cancellation that Buick dialed into the Envision.
GM uses a 9-speed automatic with all Envisions. We’re happy to report the gearbox consistently delivers clean, crisp shifts, though we did note the occasional slow shift at lower speeds. We see no point to the paddle shifters and multiple drive modes: the transmission is perfectly competent shifting for itself in the default Tour mode.
Handling is responsive but relaxed. You won’t find sporty moves here, despite what the ambitious styling suggests. We think most buyers will appreciate how easy it is to loaf along over weather-ravaged roads.
The 2021 Envision gives Buick a right-sized fighter in the mid-size niche. The sharp styling draws us in; the ample features, decent powertrain, and soft ride keep us close. We’d buy a front-drive Essence, but the Avenir’s appeal is unmistakable.
—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection