Expert Reviews

2024 Buick Envista First Drive Review

Having dropped the Encore as its entry-level model last year, Buick has a new crossover to take its place.

For its looks, comfort, and performance relative to its size, the 2024 Buick Envista not only impresses on its own, but it might well be the most impressive vehicle in the brand’s lineup right now. It comes in three trims of Preferred, Sport Touring, and Avenir, and goes on sale later this summer.

All Crossed Up

From entry-level to top-of-the-line, Buick’s lineup consists of this new Envista along with the Encore GX, Envision, and Enclave. Oddly, while the Envista slots below the Encore GX in terms of price, it’s slightly longer and taller. The Encore GX was also updated for 2024, with refreshed front and rear styling, an updated interior with a new multimedia screen, and a top Avenir trim that will now be offered on all Buick models.

The Envista rides on the same basic platform as the equally new and impressive 2024 Chevrolet Trax. It also shares its turbocharged 1.2L three-cylinder engine that makes 137 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The outgoing Encore had a 1.4L engine that was a little more powerful, so this may seem like a considerable step down, but don’t judge the Envista until you’ve driven it. This little engine will surprise you with how peppy it is from a stop, and while it can get a bit wheezy when passing on the highway, it keeps up with traffic once you’re back to cruising along. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) rates it at 8.4 L/100 km in the city, 7.4 on the highway, and 7.9 in combined driving on regular-grade gasoline.

The outgoing Encore was available with all-wheel drive (AWD), but the new Envista is strictly front-wheel drive (FWD). That may limit its popularity in the snowier areas of Canada, but it’s not unusual for an entry-level compact.

Dutiful Daily Driver

The Envista is a very pleasant vehicle to drive. The cabin is extremely quiet, and the sightlines and hood height make it feel more like a sedan, but with a crossover’s ease of entry and exit, since you slide in sideways rather than sit down into and rise up out of the seat. The steering is well-weighted, light but with enough resistance for confidence, and it’s responsive and smooth on curves. The ride is equally smooth and quiet, soaking up bumps without feeling floaty.

Standard on the Avenir trim and optional on the Sport Touring is a Watts link suspension – a rear-axle design that limits side-to-side motion for better ride and handling. I drove the Envista back-to-back with the Encore GX, and while that latter is a good vehicle, the Envista is better: quieter, a smoother ride, and peppier response even though the Encore GX has a slightly larger and more-powerful engine.

Good Looks – and Bad Ones, Too

The Envista is a handsome machine that looks better in person than in pictures. It’s well-proportioned with its longer nose and shorter rear overhang, although its sloping roof reduces rear-window visibility, and steals a bit of rear-seat headroom. The Preferred and Sport Touring come with 18-inch wheels; 19-inch rims are optional on the latter and standard on the Avenir.

I’m less impressed with the rear lighting. The horizontal lights at the top are just taillights – the brake lights and turn signals are lower down in the fascia. The automaker says it’s a design feature that meets all regulatory requirements, but I’m not on board. There’s the mandatory high-mounted brake light atop the rear window, of course, but most of us are used to seeing the main brake lights of vehicles ahead at our eye level. And with so many SUVs and trucks getting taller, these lights might not even be visible to those drivers when they’re close behind. [Hyundai is another brand that has done this with its Tucson crossover. – Ed.]

Mostly Luxurious

Inside, the Envista provides decent front- and rear-seat legroom, along with 586 L of cargo capacity with the rear seats in place and up to 1,189 L when they’re folded. The cabin design and materials give it a luxury feel. There are only a couple of items that reveal its entry-level status in the lineup, like the single-zone climate control, and that its 19-inch tablet-style screen isn’t seamlessly wide-screen, but rather a pair of displays with blacked-out portions between them.

Standard features include heated seats and steering wheel, a power driver’s seat, remote engine start, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Depending on trim, other standard or optional features include a power tailgate, wireless charger, sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, auto-dimming driver’s-side mirror, and rear park assist. Pricing will start at $28,999 for the Preferred; $30,299 for the Sport Touring; and $33,899 for the Avenir, all including destination.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the 2024 Buick Envista doesn’t feel like you settled for the brand’s entry model. Buick has traditionally been about a quiet cabin, smooth ride, and well-composed performance, and it’s done a very good job of bringing them all together in this all-new model. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a very impressive machine.