2017 Buick Envision Review


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2017 Buick Envision Overview

Until its Envision debuted for the 2016 model year, Buick skirted the heart of the crossover market. The city-size Encore is a tight fit for a growing family, while the full-size Enclave is simply too much vehicle for many buyers. With the Envision, however, Buick has gained focus.

There’s a lot of story to tell with the Envision, not the least of which is its birthplace. It is the first full-line model to be built in China and exported to the United States (technically, a very specific trim level of the Volvo S60 was sourced from China first), a move that may ruffle some feathers but really illustrates how global General Motors’ Buick division has become. Today, Buick derives most of its worldwide sales from China, and even its North American product range was largely developed in Asia or Europe.

As for the Envision, it's a 5-passenger premium crossover designed to square off against the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and Acura RDX. The entry-level Envision may undercut those three on price but is otherwise a highly competitive luxury crossover.

Anchoring the entry-level end of the lineup is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder rated at 197 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. A 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, meanwhile, ups the ante with 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Envisions with the turbo motor are only offered with all-wheel drive (AWD), while the 2.5-liter is available with either front- (FWD) or all-wheel drive, depending on trim level. Either way, a 6-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox on offer.

Standard regardless of powertrain is Buick’s HiPer Strut front suspension, which is designed to improve traction and handling under full-throttle situations. Snow-belters will appreciate the optional AWD, which utilizes a twin-clutch setup to more rapidly transfer power to the rear of the car when slip is detected. While the Envision is certainly not meant to be an off-roader, it can handle a good snowfall.

Equipment is generous, even on the base trim, which includes heated cloth-covered front seats, automatic climate control, a backup camera, and a remote starter. A host of trim levels add more content—think leather trim for the seats, a moonroof, navigation, an upgraded audio system, and a blind-spot monitor.

The range-topping Premium II, meanwhile, lavishes extras like heated and ventilated leather seats, a system that will parallel park the vehicle autonomously at the press of a button, and a larger LCD screen in the instrument cluster.

Envisions include a high-resolution touchscreen for audio and infotainment controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included as standard, while a fully integrated navigation system is a modestly priced optional extra.

On the safety front, the Envision is available with a host of camera and radar-based collision avoidance technologies. The optional Surround Vision system utilizes cameras all around the vehicle to give a virtual 360-degree view via the infotainment screen to help drivers avoid nearby obstacles. At higher speeds, a Safety Alert Seat pulses the driver’s seat base if it detects the Envision is either drifting into another lane or about to collide with another vehicle. Additionally, an available full collision-avoidance system will bring the crossover to a halt in order to prevent or mitigate the severity of an impact.

One thing to note is that the full collision-avoidance technology comes standard with the turbo but is not offered on the 2.5-liter trim.

Like other GM products, Envision offers the automaker’s OnStar system with 4G connectivity. Although the services require an additional fee after an initial trial period, they can provide safety and concierge services at the press of a button and make the vehicle into a full Wi-Fi hotspot.

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