- Manageable size makes it easy to drive and maneuver
- The cabin is as quiet inside as premium luxury SUVs
- You get a lot of features for the money
- Cargo capacity is merely average for the class
- Engine output is adequate but far from impressive
In the market for an SUV that sits comfortably between compact and barely able to fit in the garage? Consider the 2017 Buick Envision, a midsize SUV that fits between the compact Encore and three-row Enclave in Buick's lineup. The manageable size makes it an excellent choice for a growing family while its choice of four-cylinder engines should deliver solid fuel economy. Inside and out, there's no missing the Buick design cues, and the use of high quality cabin materials make it feel more like an entry-level European vehicle.
Buick has positioned the Envision to compete against the Audi Q5, and in terms of pricing and feature content the Buick has an advantage. The Audi, however, still comes out on top for quality, performance and brand cache. We're more inclined to pit the Envision against comparably priced crossovers like the Edmunds A-rated Acura RDX and B-rated Lincoln MKC, Lexus NX200t and Volvo XC60.
After driving the 2017 Buick Envision, we wouldn't be surprised if it challenges the Acura with a strong rating of its own. As a near-luxury offering, the Buick exceeds expectations and is definitely worth consideration.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The all-new Buick Envision debuted as a late 2016 model and was limited to its top two trim levels. For 2017, the Envision adds two lower trim levels that add the option of front-wheel drive.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Buick Envision is a midsize crossover SUV with seating for five. There are four trim levels offered, starting with the base-level Convenience trim which is available with either front- or all-wheel drive. Then there's the Leather trim level, which is also available with either front- or all-wheel drive. The Premium and Premium II models round out the lineup and are all-wheel drive only.
Standard Convenience trim features include 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, fog lights, hands-free power liftgate with programmable opening height, roof rails, keyless entry/ignition, remote start, rear parking sensors and cruise control.
Inside, you get active noise cancellation, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, cloth upholstery with leatherette trim, heated eight-way power-adjustable front seats, 60/40 split-folding sliding and reclining rear seats, a universal garage door opener, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, an eight-inch touchscreen with Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, a six-speaker stereo with two USB ports, auxiliary audio input, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Leather trim level adds tri-zone automatic climate control, driver seat memory functions, rear cross-traffic alerts, a blind-zone monitor, leather upholstery, heated rear outboard seats and a heated steering wheel.
The Premium trim adds 19-inch wheels, automatic wipers, forward collision alerts, lane keeping assist, a safety alert driver seat that buzzes to warn the driver of hazards, front parking sensors, an 8 -inch virtual center gauge cluster, a Bose premium seven-speaker audio system and a household power outlet behind the center console. The Premium II trim adds adaptive xenon headlights with automatic high beams, an automated parallel and perpendicular parking system, a navigation system, a head-up display, ventilated front seats and a thigh extender cushion for the driver seat.
Some features are available on supporting trim levels as options. Other add-ons include a panoramic sunroof, side steps, a trailer tow package, roof rack cross bars, a cargo cover and universal tablet holders for the rear seats. The Premium II trim is eligible for the Driver Confidence package that adds adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system and frontal collision mitigation.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2017 Buick Envision's interior features a modern design and thoughtful placement of controls. Materials quality is better than we expect from this class and price, approaching the standards found in entry-level European vehicles.
From the driver's perspective, the low dash gives a good forward view with an almost car-like feel. As is typical of other midsize SUVs, the roof pillars tend to obstruct the outward view, forcing heavy reliance on the electronic driver assistants when maneuvering in tight quarters.
Front seats are well cushioned and shaped and the top trim's thigh cushion extender should be of particular interest for taller drivers. Rear seats can easily accommodate adults and are further enhanced by sliding/reclining features. Thanks to the absence of a center floor hump, even the rear center passenger will have enough legroom. With plenty of sound insulation and standard active noise cancellation, the Envision's cabin remains pleasantly quiet on the highway.
Cargo capacity behind the rear seats maxes out at 26.9 cubic feet, which is about average for the class. Remote release handles in that space allow you to unlatch the rear seats, but in order to get a flat load floor, you have to push the seatbacks down from the rear doorway until they lock in place. With those seats stowed, capacity increases to 57.3 cubic feet, which is smaller than rivals. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of large bins and pockets to hold your personal items.
Standard safety features for all 2017 Buick Envision models include antilock brakes, traction/stability control, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, side and full-length side curtain airbags for front and rear outboard seats and knee airbags for the front seats.
The Leather trim adds rear cross-traffic alerts and a blind-zone monitor, while the Premium trim comes standard with frontal collision alerts, lane keeping assist, a safety alert driver seat and front parking sensors. Optional on the Premium II trim are frontal collision mitigation and a surround-view camera system.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 Buick Envision is available with two engine choices, separated by trim levels. The Convenience and Leather trims come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 197 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. These models come standard with front-wheel drive but all-wheel drive is available as an option. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. EPA fuel economy estimates are not yet available.
The Premium models receive a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that increases output to 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. These trims come standard with a more advanced all-wheel-drive system that distributes power both fore/aft and left/right. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 22 mpg combined (20 mpg city/26 mpg highway).
Properly equipped, the Envision can tow up to 1,500 pounds.
We spent a day driving the 2017 Buick Envision with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and were pleased with its linear power delivery that had no detectable turbo lag. There is enough power to confidently merge onto the highway and pass slower traffic. In the absence of testing results, we consider the acceleration adequate but not impressive.
The active all-wheel drive is standard with this engine and directs power to the appropriate wheel in order to maximize traction. From behind the wheel, it's undetectable as the SUV confidently tackles corners. Even over broken pavement, the vehicle tracks unfazed along the intended path, filtering out most of the imperfections before they reach occupants. Overall, the Envision is easy to drive and is as capable and comfortable as any of its competitors.
The 2017 Buick Envision is an all-new vehicle in the lineup that slots between the smaller Encore and the midsize Enclave SUVs. The Envision combines a practical size with a long list of standard features that make it a value-packed, near-luxury SUV worth considering.