Buick attempts to reinvent the small crossover with Envision

2021 Buick Envision. Metro Creative Services photo
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2021 Buick Envision. Metro Creative Services photo

Buick is trying to reinvent itself. And rightfully so. It has a reputation of being a little too “mature.” I’ve always said there’s nothing wrong with a car company being conservative and steady. And Buick fits that mold. But that isn’t stopping them from trying to rejuvenate the Buick brand to have more appeal to younger buyers.

You’ve likely seen the commercials with nobody in the over 40 crowd anywhere in site. Rather, it’s all 20 somethings and young professional 30 somethings. It also helps that they’re redesigning a lot of their product line.

Enter my tester this week – the 2021 Buick Envision.

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This small crossover immediately seems less stodgy and more youthful than most Buicks of the past and even seems more youthful than the previous generation of the Envision. So if that was the sole intent for General Motors, it’s mission accomplish.

In a segment full of gelatinous, no personality crossovers or over-the-top silly designed vehicles, the Envision fits nicely with an air of elegance, refinement and a touch of youthful exuberance. The front end is a little too dull but the profile revives the design elements with a slightly taller posture. A rear spoiler shows the playful, youthful side of this crossover.

Is it the Envision sporty and vibrant? No. But does it stand out from the Buicks of the past – yes.

It seems every vehicle on the road is turbocharging small, four-cylinder engines. Buick hops onto that trend offering the Envision with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 228 horsepower and 258 lb./ft. of torque. If Buick aims to make this crossover hip they will have to do better than this engine as it is tame and lacks any personality, despite the turbo. The nine-speed automatic transmission is good and presents very little turbo lag.

The interior of the Envision is exactly what you’d want and expect a Buick to be. It has higher-end touchpoints and a quiet, comfortable cabin. Buick has always focused on passenger comfort and accomplishes that with the redesigned Envision.

The back seat claims to accommodate three people but would be ideal for only two adults. Shoulder room would get impinged upon with a third adult. Legroom in the back seat is good as is headroom. Overall passenger comfort is good, although other non-luxury brands have offered cabins that were equally solid with their touchpoints. The entire segment, except for the aforementioned cutesy “bubble SUVs” have upped their interiors and if Buick is hanging their hat on this, they will be disappointed. The Envision doesn’t stand out in this regard but falls in line.

My tester was the Avenir trim, which is one of three trim options. The hand stitching on the seats was a standout feature and the heated steering wheel is nice. The infotainment system is solid and intuitive.

The Buick Envision won’t blow you away with technology but offers everything you could want without overwhelming you with confusing technology. Is that their way of saying it’s aimed at older people?

The Avenir trim, which is the best trim of the three, has a starting MSRP of $40,200. My tester had a couple extra packages including the technology package which brings it with adaptive cruise control and a panoramic sunroof. Final MSRP of my tester was $45,305.

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Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard for the Envision, although all-wheel drive is an option. My tester, with FWD had an EPA rating of 24 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of suburban driving I averaged nearly 25 mpg.

The redesigned Buick Envision hits many of the marks GM intended with the redesign. They have a lot of work in front of them to change the perception and persona of the Buick brand. The Envision embraces a lot of what has made the Buick brand successful while attempting to be hip and youthful. It only partially accomplishes that with the new-look crossover.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Buick Envision Avenir

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $40,200/$45,305
  • Mileage..........................................24 mpg/city; 31 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 228 hp/258 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 9-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Shanghai, China

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