So, when someone asks us about what’s hot in compact-size SUVs, they’re probably expecting us to mention Audi or BMW. Maybe Acura. Or Kia, they’re on a roll…It’s fun to see the looks on their face when we say Buick.
Maybe you have that same look on your face? Well, you shouldn’t, because there’s an all-new Buick Envision, and it is one gorgeous SUV, inside and out. Let’s take a look.
Bold and Buick
This is simply one of the most handsome compact SUVs out there. Up front there’s a mesh grille unique to our top-of-the-line Avenir trim, that surrounds the familiar Buick logo. Slim LED headlights and daytime running lamps create a powerful visual line, while massive side gills hint at a powerful drive. A lower fascia trim gives a skid-plate look that’s very SUV.
The profile is also quite sporty, with those side gills wrapping around to bulgey fenders, while a deep sculpted door creates a muscular shoulder line and a pinched waist. A bit of chrome adds some bling, while the scripted Avenir logo is tasteful and discrete. Actually, more than one person assumed that it was the model, and not the trim level. “Who makes the Avenir?”
The thing that really sells off the Envision Avenir are the unique 20-inch Pearl Nickel finish wheels, oversize and sporty it gives the Buick a hunkered-down vibe that really catches the eye.
Speaking of catching the eye, walk around the back of the vehicle at night, and it will sense your key fob, and project and lit image of the Buick logo as a welcome. Impress your friends.
The rear is tasteful, with slit-style LED taillights, Envision in block letters, Avenir in script, and the Buick Logo. Interestingly, it doesn’t say BUICK anywhere on the outside. Maybe that’s why people thought we were driving the new Avenir…. Finishing off our tester’s stylish looks was the Ebony Twilight Metallic paint, that just set off the chrome highlights and those big, gorgeous rims.
Elegant and Upscale
The exterior isn’t the only delight to the eyes, the Envision’s cabin is equally appealing. The first thing that you see is the handsome quilted leather with contrasting stitching. And those hides are more than just lookers, with heated and ventilated front seats and a massage function for the driver!
There’s a richness to the materials that feels very Audi-like, and while you won’t find a fancy digital gauge cluster, you will find the analog gauges are large and clear. Angled towards the driver is a large, 10.2-inch diagonal touchscreen that thankfully includes knobs for volume and tuning.
The standard info-tainment package is a good one, and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Wireless charging, as well as Alexa Built-in. If you want to impress your friends, pull up a Buick-exclusive apps such as Reese’s Book Club – curated by Reese Witherspoon(!) and NCAA March Madness. The touch controls for climate control are simple and easy to use.
We’re not big fans of the pushbutton “Electronic Precision Shift” which reminds us of our recent Hyundai Tucson tester. The system is a little bit better than the Tucson in that you can sort of feel the difference in the controls without having to look down – but we’d rather just have a shift lever, please. At least you have a dual-wing center armrest, that gives easy access to driver or passenger without making the other mover their elbow to get at stuff. Nice!
Those riding in the back will find a spacious place to relax, and there’s loads of leg, hip, and legroom. With the rear seats up, the cargo area is slightly smaller than the previous Envision model, but frankly there’s plenty of room. It really is impressive how large the cabin is when you get out and see that the exterior is a tidy design. Also makes for easy parking and maneuvering.
While the look is athletic and European, behind the wheel you’ll find the performance is more American luxury. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, turbo four cylinder, that puts out a strong 228 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Connected to a 9-speed automatic, it trades off some raw performance for a smooth demeanor. It has plenty of go, but it doesn’t entice you to go chasing around in traffic.
The ride is equally well-composed, and on the Avenir, an electronically-controlled, real-time damping system gives a supple, luxurious experience – impressive with those large 20-inch wheels and tires underfoot.
Steering is light and precise, and like everything else, feels tuned to soothe you through your daily commute rather than to goad you into hitting your favorite twisty roads. Our tester featured front wheel drive, but for those living in poor weather zones, AWD is available.
We think Buick is being smart here, if you really want the full Euro-Monty, you’ll pony up for that expensive Audi or BMW, but with the Envision, it’s a nice blend of reasonably-priced goodness.
Of course, you can’t play in this sandbox without a full load of safety gear, and the Envision includes the Buick Driver Confidence Plus package, with Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian detection, Lane Keep Alert, Departure and Assist features, Forward Collision alert, plus more. Our tester had the optional Safety Package, which includes Lane Change Alert with Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert – smart value for $200.
Can I Afford to Be Stylish?
Of course! The entry-level Envision Preferred starts at $32,995, Stepping up to the Essence will run you $37,195, and adds goodies like an upgraded info-tainment system, heated seats, larger alloy wheels and more. Our top-of-the-line Avenir started at $39,850, and added the Technology Package ($1,965), Panoramic moonroof ($1,450), Premium Seat package ($350), Safety Package ($200) and Destination for $1,195 for a grand total of $45,505.
Close competitors would include the all-new Lexus NX at $45,175 – sure to be a nice vehicle. On the Euro side a comparable Audi Q5 would come in at $54,590 – a great vehicle, but stepping up $9,000 is a big step!
Great looks, great value, and luxury ride – the 2022 Buick Envision Avenir is a great premium compact SUV that won’t break the bank!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.