By Keith Buglewicz
For 2017 Buick’s Envision compact-premium crossover SUV is now a full lineup of vehicles, with new base, Preferred and Essence models joining last year's Premium models. With the new models comes a new base engine, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, and a lower entry price. The new Buick Envision competes against premium SUVs like the Acura RDX, Lincoln MKC and Audi Q5, leaving the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class to its cousin, the Cadillac XT5. It offers up plenty of high-end features on the options and standard-equipment lists, and for a reasonable price through the range. We think the 2017 Envision is sure to make solid inroads against its competition, and maybe draw in new shoppers to the Buick showroom in the process.
The 2017 Buick Envision offers a smaller, upscale crossover SUV with a calm and refined driving manner, roomy interior, and at a decent price. Basically, it's the Buick of compact crossover SUVs, but in the modern sense, where you're getting a sophisticated and elegant vehicle, and not grandma's church-mobile.
The 2017 Buick Envision fills out with entry-level, Preferred and Essence models, all powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available, and a new Teen Driver mode lets nervous parents set controls, and encourage safe driving habits even when the kids are on their own.
The 2017 Buick Envision Premium models come with a 252-horsepower 4-cylinder mated to all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic. It's an impressive combination, with the 4-cylinder providing enough juice...
... to call the Envision “playful.” On the rough pavement in Detroit, the Envision showed great composure, feeling much more relaxed and quieter than rivals like the RDX and Q5. Okay, it's not going to be the quickest in its segment, but the Premium models certainly won't be the slowest, either. The all-wheel drive uses an "active twin-clutch" system that Buick says helps maintain stability and grip in corners, as well as offering all-weather capability. The Envision comes standard with stop/start technology, but it was subtle enough that we actually didn't mind that it can't be turned off. We'll have a better idea about models powered by the new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder when we get a chance to drive them later this year.
Between Buick's QuietTuning technology -- which is basically smart use of sound-deadening materials -- and high-tech active noise cancellation, the 2017 Buick Envision is a sanctuary from the noise and stress of the outside world.
There is a decently sized rear seat, as you'd expect in an SUV. But unlike many of its competitors, the Buick has no hump on the floor to ruin the middle seating position. Some clever engineering eliminated this hump, even in all-wheel-drive models.
The 2017 Envision seats five passengers in comfort, including the center position thanks to the flat rear floor. Rear passengers in Essence and Premium models get their own climate controls, plus USB ports and a 120v outlet. Nestled in their standard heated seats, the driver and front passenger will enjoy easy-to-see-and-use controls and buttons for the climate and audio systems, mainly because they're actual buttons and knobs, and not the finicky touch-based systems employed by others, including some GM brands. We'll let you decide if the analog clock on the upper right of the standard 8-inch infotainment screen is odd or refreshing.
Buick’s 2017 Envision cuts a clean profile, bearing a definite family resemblance to the subcompact, nearly nubby Encore SUV and the larger, bloated-looking Enclave, while managing to look better than both. True, it's conservative, but handsomely so, with nice proportions and just enough sculpting on the sides and hood to keep you interested without assaulting your vision. We like the standard power tailgate that has adjustable lift height and hands-free operation (just stick your foot near the bumper). We wouldn't mind the hood portholes if they actually did something, but the purely decorative bits look too tacked-on.
While the new base model 2017 Envision is more lightly equipped, it's still a lot of premium-compact SUV for the money. Buyers get dual-zone climate control, a power liftgate, tilt-and-telescope steering, and cloth seats with Leatherette trim. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 8-way-power front seats with power lumbar and heaters, and an infotainment system that includes an 8-inch color touch screen and 6-speaker audio system, a rearview camera and backup sensors, plus 10 airbags and six months of complimentary OnStar service. Also standard on the base model is the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine powering just the front wheels.
Options are added by working your way up the model ladder. Moving to Preferred lets you choose all-wheel drive (AWD), while Essence models add things like rear-seat climate control, blind-spot monitor, heated rear outboard seats, memory for the front seats, and leather seating surfaces all around. It also offers a heated steering wheel. Step up to Premium I or Premium II and you'll get the turbocharged engine and standard dual-clutch all-wheel drive (AWD), plus rear cross-traffic alert, front parking sensors, lane-keeping assist and forward-collision alert. Premium II models can add a surround-vision camera, automatic braking and adaptive cruise control.
Two engine choices await 2017 Buick Envision buyers. First is the base engine, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 197 horsepower through a 6-speed automatic transmission to the front or, in Essence models, all four wheels. The Premium and Premium II models both use the 2.0-liter 252-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder that debuted last year. It sends power through a 6-speed automatic and a different AWD system that uses a dual-clutch system for better power delivery. Power from the turbo is more than adequate, if not segment-leading, with negligible lag and impressive torque available at a low rpm. Fuel economy in front-wheel-drive (FWD) models is an EPA estimated 29 mpg on the highway; it's lower in the AWD turbos, which also require premium fuel.
197 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
192 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (FWD); 21/28 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
252 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a base 2017 Buick Envision is just under $35,000 when you include the $925 destination charge. Preferred models start about $1,800 higher than that, and Essence models are another $1,900 higher. An all-wheel-drive Envision Essence model will run a little shy of $40,500. If you want turbo power, the Premium model starts a little above $43,000, and the top-line Premium II is just under $46,000. The base prices of lower-end models are in line with many of its rivals, including the Acura RDX, Lexus NX, Infiniti QX50, and thousands less than less than the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Envision. As this is such a new vehicle, the Envision SUV's resale value is still to be determined.