Buick’s 2019 Envision includes a bevy of upgrades and modifications and, while they’re not especially sexy, they were of great importance to Buick. That’s because the ideas came straight from Buick’s customers.
Owners were surveyed and, yeah, Buick listened and responded. Things like heated seats that warm up quicker – done. Faster wireless phone chargers – done. Sharper picture on the backup camera, and greater sound clarity from the hands-free microphone – done and done.
As a bonus, Buick knocked off a grand on the MSRP for all five trim levels.
While Buick may be the oldest American nameplate on the road, this five-seat crossover SUV is built in Shandong, China. That’s likely because Envision sales in China are roughly quadruple what they are in the U.S.
We can probably thank the Chinese connection for one of the new improvements: an ionizer that purifies the air coming into the AC/heat system. With urban smog an even bigger problem in China – some major cities have even banned gas-driven vehicles – cleaner cabin air was critical to Chinese customers.
From the curb, Envision’s revisions are rather subtle. The waterfall grille and front fascia have been mildly redesigned and dechromed to reflect the new Buick look across the line. In the rear, sleeker taillights, a new lift gate and resculpted fenders give it a more aggressive look.
Under the hood, a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine gets the same 252 horses but a 35 pound-foot torque boost to 295. It’s now mated to a smooth 9-speed transmission with toggles, not paddles, for manual shifting. All turbos get GM’s twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system which can send torque exclusively to the rear axle.
For the lower trim levels, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and 6-speed tranny carry over unchanged.
Envision is a capable handler and has good steering feedback thanks to GM’s HiPer (high performance) suspension system. But it’s not a sport-driving machine, even with the turbo. Zero-to-60 mph comes in at a fraction under 8 seconds, a half-second better than last year.
It is great, however, at what it’s meant to be: A solid highway cruiser that can put away the miles comfortably and quietly.
Buick’s QuietTuning technology is a story in itself. It starts with sound-dampening materials like acoustic glass and insulation under the hood and dashboard. Doors are triple-sealed and carpet is extra thick. And underbody paneling, Buick says, is designed to reduce wind and road noise.
EPA figures fuel economy at 20 mpg city, 25 highway for a combined figure of 22. That is aided by a start-stop feature which, by the way, now has a shut-off button. Customers spoke again.
Seats in the top-line Premium II are heated and cooled, nicely cushioned and offer extendable thigh support. Eight-way power includes lumbar adjustment. In the rear, head and leg room are adequate and seats slide back, too, for even more leg room. But getting three adults into the rear seat is a squeeze – they had better be smallish or darn friendly with each other.
Materials have a soft and upscale feel despite a fair amount of plastic and fake wood trim.
An 8-inch infotainment screen carries GM’s well-appointed CUE system, includes voice recognition and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A new wireless charging pad energizes newer iPhones like the 8 and X more rapidly. And a head-up display offers drive data on the lower corner of the windshield.
Cargo space is sufficient for most folks at 27 cubic feet, reachable via a hands-free lift gate. The space more than doubles with the rear seats folded down.
Envision gets parking sensors and even a teen-driver mode but, disappointingly, an active-safety package is not included as standard with the Premium II. The Driver Confidence package ($1,545) has adaptive cruise control with forward automatic braking, lane-keep assist and warning, blind spot monitors and parallel parking assist.
Perhaps more standard safety features will be on subsequent consumer surveys. Remember, Buick is listening.
MSRP: $49,925 (Includes 19" wheels – $1,895; Driver confidence package – $1,545; and moonroof – $1,495)
What's all the excitment about? Consumers spoke, Buick listened, on numerous improvements for the 2019 Envision compact crossover
Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 9-speed transmission; twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system is standard
How's the performance? Lackluster acceleration at 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds, but comfortable and quiet on the highway
What about the fuel economy? PA-rated at 20 mpg city, 25 highway (22 combined)