2019 Buick Envision AWD Premium II
For a taste of the premium life, without as much of the price
By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | June 2019
The 2019 Buick Envision presents a solid value for someone who wants a decent number of bells and whistles, but who would rather not pay the full price of entry to the world of luxury brands. You may give up a small measure of premium feel, but the value that the Envision presents is undeniable.
What is this vehicle?
The Envision filled the gaping hole in Buick’s lineup between the tiny Encore crossover and the Enclave 3-row utility. It occupies a sweet spot in the market, competing with the wide array of small-to-medium CUVs from both luxury brands and mainstream ones. It’s a two-row crossover that has plenty of room inside for most types of people, or for a bored dog on a road trip. The Envision has lots of luxury features available, and for less than you’d have to pay for them on an Acura or a Lexus, but it does show some more humble roots sometimes.
Who is this vehicle for?
The Envision is for families who need room for all their members and their accompanying stuff, and would like to haul them in style. By now crossovers have taken over the bulk of the market for several reasons, including their cargo flexibility and AWD availability, but especially since they give drivers a more commanding view of the road. Vehicles like the Envision offer a good compromise for many drivers who are coming out of larger sedans, but still want plenty of back seat space and other benefits that a larger vehicle offers.
Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?
The Envision offers an alternative to buyers who want premium touches but don’t care as much about a luxury nameplate. It competes well against vehicles like the Acura RDX and Lexus NX, both front-wheel drive platforms from upscale brands. It starts around $5,000 under those vehicles, though, and offers a nice size advantage over the Lexus. If you’re in that segment, you might want to add the Envision to your list.
Interesting facts about the Envision!
The Envision was actually the first Chinese-built vehicle available in the U.S., and it should give buyers the confidence to accept that the quality of manufacturing from that country is top-notch. After all, we already get most of our high-tech goodies from factories in China, so we know that they can build products with precision. The build quality of the Envision is beyond reproach, and barring further tariff threats, American consumers may see more Chinese-built vehicles here in the future.
What Impressed Us / Top Likes:
There’s a lot to like about the Envision, and it’s a shame that more people don’t know about it.
Some highlights for us are:
- GM’s strong infotainment offerings — The central screen was fairly easy to use, and things like Bluetooth pairing are easy.
- Our Envision had a head-up display projected off the windshield, making it easy to keep your eyes on the road.
- Buick’s QuietTuning is standard on this vehicle, making for a mostly tranquil soundscape in the vehicle. It consists of acoustic laminated glass and triple door seals.
- The back seat is highly flexible, in that it can slide fore and aft for the perfect mix of passenger legroom and cargo volume. The seatbacks can also recline.
- Air Ionizer — On our trip to up to Big Bear Lake, we passed through some nasty cattle smell. When we turned on the recirculate function the car told us the Ionizer was on, and the smell disappeared lightning fast.
- The digital cluster was a pretty high-end piece, making the vehicle seem more upscale.
- The automatic rear-seat warning lets you know if someone, including your furry friend, is still in the back seat so you don’t leave them behind on a hot day. It senses whether you opened the rear door before getting into the driver’s seat.
Items to Make Better (Least Favorite Things):
- This platform isn’t very upscale, so it doesn’t feel quite as stiff as the structures of some of its competitors. While handling is good and the ride is very comfortable, there are occasionally some judders that come up from the road. The QuietTuning does a great job of shushing wind and engine noise, but road noise does seep through.
- It takes a bit of time for Apple CarPlay to connect, even though it’s a physical cord connection. It would be less frustrating if there were no cord needed, but so far very few brands have implemented wireless CarPlay connectivity. We also think it would be nice if the car could display CarPlay content on its excellent, full-color head-up display.
- The infotainment system is missing a couple features, like high-speed scrubbing by sliding your finger across the timeline, and a play/pause button. Our plea to every manufacturer would be to include these.
- The transmission is a nice piece, normally very smooth and unobtrusive, but occasionally at launch it lets the engine wind up and then engages a bit too suddenly. It can also take too long for gear downshifts.
Segment and Competitors:
Since Buick is a tweener brand, we see the Envision having two competitive sets. The first consists of smaller 2-row luxury crossovers:
- Acura RDX
- Lexus NX
- Infiniti QX50
- Audi Q5
- Cadillac XT4
The second is larger 2-row vehicles from the mainstream brands:
- Ford Edge
- Nissan Murano
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Subaru Outback
Pricing and Availability:
Pricing starts at $33,190 for the base model, while our Premium II trim with AWD starts at $44,095. Destination charge adds another $1,195 to this range of pricing, and packages like Driver Confidence—which added adaptive cruise, auto emergency braking and a birdseye camera—and a panoramic moonroof added a few thousand dollars more.
The Envision is in dealers now, so head over to check it out, or build your own at Buick’s website: https://www.buick.com/suvs/envision-compact-luxury-suv/build-and-price/trim