2017 Buick Envision review: – CNET

Posted: Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Buick exists in a space that is neither mainstream nor luxury. Its middle-of-the-road pricing slots it into what can best be described as a near-premium segment, where everything gets a bit fancier without commanding huge prices.

The Envision is the latest entry in this field, and boy howdy, the field of two-row, decently priced crossovers is already quite thick. But the Envision carves itself a nice little niche, thanks to its comfortable ride, impressively peppy optional engine and a veritable panoply of tech that GM has been wise to shove into as many vehicles as possible.

General Motors debuted the Envision in China, where it’s sold like gangbusters since 2014. Now, it’s here in the US, because it smartly fills the gap between Buick’s subcompact Encore and the full-size Enclave. After spending some time with the Trishield’s latest crossover, it’s not perfect, but I think it’ll fit in just fine.

Anonymous look outside, not quite German inside

The Envision isn’t going to win any beauty contests, unless the contest is “Easiest Vehicle to Lose in a Mall Parking Lot.” To my eyes, its styling is ho-hum, with large light fixtures bucking the recent trend of slimming everything down as much as possible. Our tester made its best attempt to look forward with LED running lights, but the whole design feels rather anonymous in the face of sharper competitors like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

Is it easy on the eyes? Yes. Is it also pretty darn anonymous? Oh yes.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Speaking of lights, the side-mirror turn indicators are bright enough to confuse low-flying aircraft, likely an effort to ensure owners don’t leave the things on for a mile and a half straight.

The Envision’s interior ratchets the excitement up a notch. Cabin materials are easy on both the eyes and the fingertips, although the feel isn’t quite up to German spec (then again, neither is the price, so that’s hardly a sin). The leather in my tester was plenty comfortable over many long trips, and the seats and steering wheel both heated up quickly — great for folks in winter climes, not to mention journalists sitting in a running car between video takes in 20-degree temps.

The Envision’s dash and instrument panel have a solid mix of old- and new-school touches. My top-trim Premium II tester arrived with a multifunction screen in the gauge cluster, and the infotainment screen lives just above an array of secondary controls. Beneath that, HVAC controls are largely physical switchgear, save for a pair of annoyingly gimmicky touchpad temperature adjusters that work only when presses are long and deliberate.

Space up front is ample, and the story is the same in the second row — for occupants at or under the 6-foot mark, at least. Anyone taller than 6-foot dead will find rear headroom to be slightly lacking.

More cabin tech than you can shake a stick at

GM has done a commendable job introducing a whole bunch of center-stack tech to its vehicles lately, whether it’s a Chevrolet Cruze or this here Envision. The star of the show is an 8-inch touchscreen running Buick’s
system, which is basically the same as Cadillac’s Cue and Chevrolet’s MyLink. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, which is a nice touch.

The infotainment screen serves up your average array of connected services, including a Weather Channel app that showcases local radar maps and forecasts. SiriusXM-based traffic and weather apps are also available. Data junkies will enjoy GM’s ubiquitous 4G LTE hotspot, which did a good job of covering gaps in my phone’s LTE coverage around Greater Detroit. A trial is free, but a subscription is required beyond that.

If the one screen isn’t enough, don’t worry, there’s another one in the gauge cluster. The traditional analog speedometer straddles a portion of the screen that can display music information, a small version of the nav system’s map or settings relevant to that specific screen. An optional head-up display brings yet another screen into the fray, and like other systems of its kind, I found it helpful in keeping my eyes on the road.

Some advanced safety systems were standard, including lane-keep assist, forward collision warning and rear parking sensors. The $1,545 Driver Confidence package added adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and a surround-view camera to the mix, as well. Such 360-degree systems are always welcome, and Buick’s cameras provided sufficient resolution to make trickier parking jobs easy.


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