The 2020 Buick Envision may be positioned as a sort of entry-level luxury or "premium" model, but in reality, its price tag, feature content and overall refinement align with the upper trim levels of mainstream compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-5 and the Nissan Rogue. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that, because this Chinese-built Buick makes a much better case for itself when not being compared to Acuras, Audis or Lincolns.
Now, the Envision has less space and worse fuel economy than those mainstream models, but it stands apart with an ultra-quiet cabin and easy-to-use technology typical of the Buick brand. Its styling, which was updated for 2019, is also a bit more grown-up than the more youthful (or parental) vibe of those other compact SUVs. Plus, unlike most vehicles in that segment, it offers a powerful engine upgrade, which actually received a significant boost in torque as part of the 2019 update.
So, although we think the Envision is generally not as appealing as other compact SUVs (be it mainstream or luxury), it is certainly an alternative that packs in decent value, especially in its most affordable trim levels.
What’s New for 2020?
There are no major changes for the 2020 model year. See the 2020 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
- Questionably expensive Preferred trim
- Safety tech exclusive to top trim levels
The Envision’s first three trims come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 197 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. It has a 6-speed automatic transmission. With standard front-wheel drive (FWD), it returns an estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. That lowers to 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/24 combined with optional all-wheel drive (AWD). This fuel economy is lower than compact SUVs with comparable power outputs.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder found in the Premium trims boasts 252 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic and AWD are standard. Fuel economy lowers to 20 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Buick Envision is available in five trim levels: 1SV, Preferred, Essence, Premium I and Premium II.
The 1SV trim level ($31,995) comes standard with 18-in wheels, automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights, fog lights, a hands-free power lift gate, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, remote ignition, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 8-way power front seats, a 60/40-split back seat (folds, reclines and slides), cloth/leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an autodimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, OnStar emergency and remote services, in-car Wi-Fi, an 8-in touchscreen, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a 6-speaker sound system. The base trim is available only with FWD and white paint. There are no options available.
The Preferred trim level ($33,500) has a higher price but doesn’t actually add any extra equipment. It does, however, grant you access to five paint choices. You can also specify it with some optional vehicle accessory packages and AWD, but that comes with a further charge of about $2,000.
The Essence ($35,800) does add extra equipment, including roof rails, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems, tri-zone climate control, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
The Premium I ($40,700) adds the turbo engine, an upgraded front suspension, 19-in wheels, bi-LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, an upgraded trip computer and a 7-speaker Bose sound system. Both Premium trims are only available with AWD.
The Premium II ($43,600) adds an automatic parking system, automatic high beams, a head-up display, ventilated front seats, driver thigh support adjustment, wireless smartphone charging and integrated navigation (optional on the Essence and Premium I). The optional Driver Confidence package adds automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a surround-view parking camera.
A sunroof is optional on all but the base trim.
Every 2020 Envision comes standard with 10 airbags (front, front knee, front- and rear-side, side-curtain), a backup camera and OnStar emergency communications. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are included on the Essence trim and above. Both Premium trims include forward-collision warning and lane-keeping assist, but only the Premium II can be outfitted with optional automatic emergency braking.
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 (IIHS) gave it top marks in crash tests and a rating of Advanced for the Premium II’s crash prevention system.
Behind the Wheel
The 2020 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.
Power from the base 197-hp engine is sufficient, and indeed, more than most compact SUVs from mainstream brands. Its fuel economy isn’t great, though. The optional turbocharged engine also compares favorably to the engine upgrades of those mainstream models, but then it comes 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 subpar when compared to an Acura or 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 nonluxury models will be more spacious and versatile.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Honda CR-V Touring — For about the same money as the base Envision, you get even more equipment in the CR-V Touring, plus a more efficient engine, better driving dynamics and immensely more interior space.
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature — The range-topping CX-5 trim levels are genuinely luxurious and come with more equipment than a comparably priced Envision. The Signature trim comes standard with a strong turbocharged engine, AWD and a turbodiesel option.
2020 Lincoln Corsair — If you’re seeking an SUV from a premium American brand, the all-new Corsair boasts similar size and pricing. It’s a more modern and technologically advanced crossover than the Envision and some may appreciate that it’s built in the United States rather than China.
2020 GMC Terrain — Since Buick dealers are invariably GMC dealers as well, it’s also worth looking at the Terrain. It has a newer, more sophisticated vehicle architecture, and although it may not be as quiet as the Envision, we think it’s a stronger vehicle overall.
Used Cadillac XT5 — The XT5 is a step above the Envision in terms of both size and luxury, but you’re going to want to look for a used or certified pre-owned (CPO) model to bring the price down. This is a great option if you want a nice luxury crossover with a little more room in the back seat.
It is absolutely absurd that Buick makes you pay $1,500 extra for the Preferred trim level when it only provides four extra color choices over the base model. Nevertheless, it’s still reasonably priced compared to similarly equipped compact SUVs. As such, going with that or the Essence is a good call. We like the turbocharged engines of Premium trims, but paying more than $40,000 for an Envision seems questionable considering what else is available at that price point. Find a Buick Envision for sale