We can credit much of what is going on in the all-new 2016 Buick Envision to the influence China brings to Buick’s product planning. Not to mention that this CUV is built in China. Beyond that, Buick sees itself as more than a premium brand. It aspires to crack the luxury club with the Envision serving as another step in that direction. Both in price and standard content, the Envision goes toe to toe with CUVs from Acura, Audi and Lincoln.
Plugging the gap between the pipsqueak Encore and the midsize Enclave, the Envision is furnished for five. It tours along in nearly hushed silence. It’s comfy and well stocked with all the popular luxury convenience features. There are loads of technology both in terms of connectivity and safety.
We don’t think Buick quite hit its target, but General Motors loyalists will find plenty to like.
What’s New for 2016?
The Buick Envision is all new for 2016. See the 2016 Buick Envision models for sale near you
What We Like
- Abundant standard features for the money
- Quiet cabin
- Sliding and reclining back seat
- Easy-to-use touchscreen
What We Don’t
- Below-average cargo space
- Disappointing fuel economy
- High price structure
Both grades of the 2016 Buick Envision use a 252-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission to motivate all four wheels. That’s correct, Buick chose to release the new Envision as an all-wheel-drive-only vehicle. A naturally aspirated four-banger is on deck for 2017, along with front-wheel drive. Estimated fuel economy is 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Standard Features and Options
Envision comes in only two well-equipped AWD trim levels: Premium I and Premium II. Prices include the $925 factory delivery charge.
Premium I ($42,995) arrives with a wide array of standard features including 17-in aluminum wheels, fog lamps, LED daytime running lamps, heated outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators, rain-sensing wipers, 8-way heated power front seats, 60/40 split sliding/reclining rear seat, heated rear-seat outboard positions, driver memory settings for seat adjuster/outboard mirrors, a 120-volt power outlet, dual charging USB ports, remote vehicle start, tri-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, backup camera, front/rear park assist, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, Buick IntelliLink with an 8-in touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, available Wi-Fi hot spot, available OnStar telematics system and a 7-speaker Bose audio system with active noise cancellation.
Premium II ($45,635) adds to or enhances the Premium I features with 19-in aluminum wheels, articulating HID headlamps with automatic high-beam control, auto on/off headlamps, a power hands-free rear lift gate, leather seating, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a head-up display, push-button start, automatic parallel/perpendicular park assist, and an upgraded infotainment system with navigation system and satellite radio capability.
A power tilt/sliding moonroof is optional on both grades.
Every 2016 Buick Envision comes standard with 10 airbags (front, front knee, front- and rear-side, side-curtain), a backup camera and OnStar emergency communications. Also standard on both grades are a backup camera, front/rear park assist, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Premium II models also come with automatic high-beam control and assisted parking.
In government crash tests, the Envision received 5-star overall and side ratings, and 4-star frontal and rollover ratings. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it top marks in crash tests and a rating of Advanced for the Premium II’s crash prevention system.
Behind the Wheel
The Envision is notably quiet, thanks to ample sound deadening, acoustic glass and standard active noise cancellation. If you don’t want to hear a lot from the outside world, it’s a good place to start. The suspension is soft and soaks up bumps well, but doesn’t do a very good job around corners. The Envision can seem a bit out of whack when you throw greater demands at it, and frankly, it’s not really in keeping with General Motors’ other efforts. One has to imagine the Envision’s Chinese market origin has something to do with this softer approach.
The turbocharged engine compares favorably to the engine upgrades of many mainstream models, but is attached to trim levels with prices that exceed them. Of course, that same turbocharged engine aligns pretty well with what’s under the hood of most luxury compact models, but the Envision’s overall refinement and driving experience pale to those, so such comparisons are basically a moot point.
Inside, the Envision similarly straddles the line between mainstream and luxury models. Its materials are sub-par when compared to an Acura ora Lincoln, but pretty good when stacked up to a Honda or a Nissan. Its infotainment offerings are attractive regardless, however, as you get tons of standard features and an easy-to-use 8-in touchscreen that controls them.
In terms of space, there’s plenty for passengers in the sliding and reclining back seat, but the Envision’s cargo capacity is low among compact SUVs. Both luxury and non-luxury models will be more spacious and versatile.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Lincoln MKC — If you’re seeking an SUV from a premium brand, the MKC boasts similar size, feature content and noise levels. It’s better to drive, though, and some may appreciate that it’s built in the United States rather than China.
2016 GMC Terrain — Since Buick dealers are invariably GMC dealers as well, it’s also worth looking at the Terrain. Although it may not be as quiet as the Envision, we think it’s a stronger vehicle overall.
2016 Acura RDX – An early competitor in the compact luxury CUV segment, the RDX is well equipped and enjoys Acura’s reputation for quality. It also has an available suite of safety/driver-assist technologies.
Used Lincoln MKX — Everything we said above about the MKC also applies to the most recent MKX, albeit with a larger, more luxurious cabin. New vehicle prices are higher than the Envision’s, though, so considering a used or certified pre-owned version is recommended.
No question that Buick is aiming directly at the compact CUV offerings of some of the luxury brands. Pricing puts them out of the reach of folks shopping for a Honda CR-V or a Nissan Rogue. We think that if you are going to pony up nearly $43,000 for the Premium I, why not spend another $2,600 for the Premium II with a lot of extra features? Find a Buick Envision for sale