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2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Buick Envision: Which Is Better?

If you’re in the market for something slightly different in the crossover world, look no further than either the 2021 Subaru Forester and the 2021 Buick Envision. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The 2021 Subaru Forester offers off-road ability in a compact but spacious package. It also comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight safety suite.
  • The 2021 Buick Envision is all-new for this year and gets plenty of upgrades. It is, however, only available with one engine option.

2021 Subaru Forester

2021 Subaru Forester Front Right Side in RedBase Price: $25,845/ Read our 2021 Subaru Forester Review

What we like: Attractive price; EyeSight safety and driver assists; standard AWD.

What we would change: Better response from the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); more rugged styling; add a more powerful turbo engine option.

Overview: After its recent redesign, the Subaru Forester comes across as a more highly refined crossover SUV. While it’s much nicer inside, the mechanicals remain just as robust as the previous model with its flat-4 2.4-liter engine sending power to all four corners through Subaru’s superb and standard AWD system. The Forester also retains more than eight inches of ground clearance, making it one of the few SUVs in its class with solid off-road credentials. Subaru also boasts an excellent reputation for quality, safety (thanks to its standard EyeSight suite of assists), and high resale value.

What’s new for 2021: Since its recent redesign, there are few changes this year. There’s a new headlight system that allows the beams to track with the angle of the front wheels. Also, Subaru has added a rear seatbelt reminder.

Features and technology: There are four trims above the base 2021 Subaru Forester, including Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring. The base model comes with 17-inch steel wheels, automatic climate control, power windows/locks, hill-hold assistance, and Starlink infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen.

High trim models add items that include a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, automatic rear braking, navigation, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, premium Harman Kardon sound system, heated steering wheel, heated front, and rear seats, and a power panoramic sunroof.

What does the future hold: Having just redesigned the Forester, Subaru will not be making significant changes to the vehicle in the next two years. See 2021 Subaru Forester models for sale near you

2021 Buick Envision

2021 Buick Envision Front Left Side in SilverBase price: $31,800 / Read our 2021 Buick Envision Review

What we like: Turbocharged engine; great safety suite; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; great top-of-the-line Avenir model; optional AWD across the lineup.

What we would change: Add power lift gate on the base model.

Overview: The Buick Envision is a compact premium crossover by Buick that offers tons of luxury amenities for a good price. It is a 2-row, 5-passenger vehicle that is built off the same chassis as the Cadillac XT4. While the vehicle is an American SUV, it is built in China.

What’s new for 2021: The Envision is all-new for this model year. It is about the same length as the previous generation, but it is lower and wider and comes in three trim levels: Preferred, Essence, and Avenir. All versions get a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that makes 230 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. There are no other engine options, though you can opt for either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive across the lineup. The FWD version gets 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. The AWD versions are slightly less fuel-efficient making 22 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Adding AWD will cost you $1,800 regardless of the trim level you choose.

Features and technology: At the base level, or Preferred trim, the Envision comes equipped with Bi-LED headlights, manual cloth-covered front seats, and an infotainment system featuring an 8-inch touchscreen, Sirius XM radio, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. It also comes with push-button ignition, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, cruise control, and a safety suite that includes automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The mid-grade Buick Envision is the Essence trim, and it adds heated, power-adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-inch touchscreen, an 8.0-inch multicolor driver information center, and a power lift gate. The Essence also can be ordered with AWD.

Most luxurious is the Envision Avenir. At this level, you get a premium Bose 9-speaker audio system, a cargo compartment cover, premium floor-mats, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera, a massaging driver’s seat, heated rear seats, and an infotainment system with more memory. The Buick Envision Avenir also has front and rear park assist, plus larger wheels and tires.

In addition to a $1,450 optional moonroof, the 2021 Buick Envision Essence can be ordered with a $2,500 Technology Package that includes front and rear park assist, HD surround vision, the 9-speaker Bose audio system, and a head-up display. The Essence and Avenir versions of the Envision also are available with a $1,965 Technology Package II. This includes enhanced versions of the automatic emergency braking and parking assist programs, plus adaptive cruise control, articulating headlamps, a video rearview mirror, and an active suspension with continuous damping.

What does the future hold:  Buick sells more cars in China than it does in the U.S., which means that we may see some additional engine options in future iterations. Find a Buick Envision for sale near you

Forester vs. Envision: Strengths comparison

Subaru Forester benefits: Standard AWD; good off-road performance; reliability; high resale value.

Buick Envision benefits: Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; tons of luxury amenities; turbocharged engine

2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Buick Envision: Which is better?

Since the Forester comes with standard all-wheel drive and Subaru’s comprehensive suite of safety equipment, we would go with the Forester over the Envision in this comparison. While the Forester is a bit less luxurious, it offers a bit of off-road ability and has great resale and reliability. Find a 2021 Subaru Forester for sale or Find a 2021 Buick Envision for sale

Popular Powertrains 2021 Subaru Forester 2021 Buick Envision
Engine 2.5-liter Flat-4 2.0-liter turbo I-4
Horsepower 182 hp @ 5.800 rpm 228 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
Transmission Continuously variable 9-spd automatic
Fuel Economy 29 mpg (26 city/33 hwy) 25 mpg (24 city/31 hwy)
Also Available AWD
Basic warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 4 years/ 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/ 60,000 miles 6 years/ 70,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 stars NA
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 105.1 inches 109.4 inches
Overall Length 182.1 inches 182.5 inches
Width 71.5 inches 74.1 inches
Height 67.5 inches 64.6 inches
Turning Diameter 35.4 feet 38 feet
Headroom, Front 41.2 inches 39.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.6 inches 38.9 inches
Legroom, Front 43.3 inches 40.4 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.4 inches 39.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.2 inches 56.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.2 inches 55.9 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 111.9 cubic feet 100.4 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 35.4 cubic feet 25.2 cubic feet

Abigail Bassett
Abigail Bassett
Abigail Bassett is a freelance journalist based in L.A. and she's covered automotive topics for a variety of well-known outlets including Fortune, Forbes, CNN and Motor Trend. She's also a television and video host and regularly covers breaking news, social justice, technology, health and wellness, and science in addition to her car coverage. When she's not working on her next project she's... Read More about Abigail Bassett

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