Buick sales have been strong throughout the last troubled year with virtually all of the growth coming in its range of crossovers. The latest of these is the completely redone 2021 Envision expected to help Buick continue to attract new buyers.
Buick says 60% of current Buick owners are new to the brand, and 30% new to GM.
The Envision slots into the Buick crossover lineup between the Enclave and Encore. The five-seater enters its second generation for 2021 with a new body and interior atop a new platform. There has been considerable effort to extend the range of standard equipment and new technology through the three available trim levels – Preferred, Essence and a new top-rung Avenir.
The new Envision is based on GM’s global E2 platform which is one-third stiffer than the old one and has a five-link rear suspension. The additional 28-mm between the front and rear axles provides more interior space between the front and rear seats.
The 2021 Buick Envision is wider, lower, fresher
The new design is fresh and very much like a tall wagon – but with the sought-after higher seating position. It is wider and lower than the old Envision.
The new front end features LED headlights on all three trim levels. which should help the new Envision capture a coveted Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Starting with the 2020 model year, only vehicles equipped with good or acceptable headlights across all trims are eligible for the agency’s top two awards. It has been common practice for manufacturers to equip the same vehicle with several different headlight systems depending on trim level. The IIHS started to encourage better vehicle lighting in 2016.
Headlights are rated on the distance low and high beams illuminate straight and curved roads.
Points are deducted for headlights that can momentarily blind oncoming drivers. At the other end of the vehicle, the new Envision employs the now-mandatory rearview camera. Transport Canada says that since May 1st, 2018, all new cars sold in Canada, weighing less than 4536 kg, must be fitted with a backup camera.
The new Envision’s engine has less horsepower and torque; stiff suspension improves ride
While the headlights of the new Envision are a major improvement over those of the outgoing model, the only available engine is a step back.
The 2021 Envision comes with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 228 horsepower and 258 lb. ft. of torque, down 24 ponies and 37 lb. ft. from the previous unit. Paired with a nine-speed automatic and standard all-wheel-drive it delivers satisfactory, if not impressive, performance and fuel economy.
The new stiffer platform and suspension has brought an improved highway ride but at the cost of a little of the athleticism of the outgoing model. But, Buick knows its customers are more likely to appreciate the ride quality than miss a little alacrity in the turns.
The interior of the 2021 Buick Envision is a delight, a significant upgrade both visually and content-wise.
Material quality and application is first rate. The transmission is controlled by buttons atop the console. The instruments are lidded to reduce glare, the centre console has a pair of lids, and there is another storage bin beneath the HVAC controls.
There is comfy seating for four. A fifth can be squeezed into the back if necessary. The rear seat back folds flat for added cargo space which is easily accessible through a power-operated, hands-free hatch. When opened at night, it casts a Buick logo onto the ground beneath.
A 26-cm (10.2-inch) infotainment screen is standard across all models in Canada. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard on all. You get a 4G LTE hotspot, satellite radio, heated seats and steering wheel are all standard.
The 2021 Buick Envision is loaded with standard safety features
The standard safety equipment list is pretty complete with both passive (before) and active (after) features. Standard features include lane departure with lane keep assist, forward collision warning with automatic braking, front pedestrian warning and braking.
With a lower, wider stance, wheels pushed to the corners and attractive proportions, the 2021 Envision has the looks of a wagon and the utility of a crossover. Attractive, well-equipped and competitively-priced, it should bring even more new customers to a brand that has been here for more than a century.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Buick Envision AWD Essence
As tested: $44,983 including freight
26-cm touchscreen, Bluetooth streaming audio, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto compatibility, voice recognition, in-vehicle aps, personalized profiles, seven speakers
Front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, following distance indicator, automatic high beams, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist.
Leather seats, LED headlights, power, heated, auto-dimming mirrors with memory; programmable, hands-free power tailgate, eight-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, power windows and locks, cruise control, tilt & telescope steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror
Power panoramic moonroof, $1,795; Ebony Twilight metallic paint, $495; Sport Touring Package (20-in alloy wheels, black trim, cargo compartment cover), $1,295.
Turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 228-horsepower, 258 lb.ft. of torque, nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 10.5/ 8.2
Length, 4,635-mm; width, 1,882-mm, wheelbase, 2,779-mm; weight, 1,573-kg
Acura RDX, Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX, Lincoln Corsair, and Volvo XC60.