After a first model year lasting only a few months, Buick is kicking off production of the 2017 Envision early. The intermediate-sized luxury crossover adds new, more affordable trims to the mix to continue bringing new customers to the Buick brand.
Although the Envision was styled, engineered, and tested in Detroit, it is assembled in China, Buick’s largest market. It is presently the only vehicle on sale in Canada built there. While the Envision might seem like it’s based on the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, or the Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia, the Buick actually rides on a derivative of the new Chevrolet Cruze’s platform.
Handsomely styled, the Envision features all the usual Buick styling cues including a waterfall grille with active shutters, Ventiport faux hood vents, and a scalloped tailgate window. The interior is pleasing to look at with a large plinth of highly glossed wood and matte metal finishes. Capacitive touch controls are used for the climate system in place of conventional knobs and buttons. Overall space is quite good for an intermediate vehicle, and the Envision offers more rear legroom and cargo space than compact rivals like the Audi Q5 and Lexus NX; a sliding and reclining rear seat further helps. Triple-sealed doors, acoustic glass and active noise cancellation help make the Envision a quiet place on the move.
New for 2017 are two entry level trims. The base trim is called Preferred, while the next step up is dubbed Essence.
These two trims receive GM’s 2.5-litre direct-injected four-cylinder, which was featured on the Cadillac ATS and the previous generation Chevrolet Malibu. With less power and torque (197 hp, 192 lb-ft), the Envision no longer needs the trick HiPer strut front suspension, which is used to tame torque steer. The higher-output 2.0-litre turbo is used for the full-zoot Premium I and II trims, and produces 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission and feature all-wheel drive as standard equipment. While the Envision 2.0T features a torque vectoring rear differential, the Envision 2.5 goes without it.
In Preferred trim, the Envision loses some of the formerly standard equipment. Cloth trim with leatherette bolsters replaces full leather upholstery; heated rear seats and the tri-zone climate control system are also no longer included. The sound system is a simpler six-speaker system, and the instrument cluster has a smaller 4.2-inch display. 18-inch wheels are featured instead of the 19-inch units found on Premium trims. The Essence trim adds leather upholstery, tri-zone climate control, heated rear seats, blind-spot warning, and can be fitted with navigation.
Also new for 2017, is GM’s Teen Driver Mode, which can be activated to monitor driving habits and produces a report card outlining how many times the active safety features (where available) were triggered. Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system also now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, which were not available when the car launched last year.
On the luxury ledger, features such as ventilated seats, a 360-degree parking camera, and emergency autonomous braking are available. Certain trims receive forward collision warning and lane-departure warning as standard.
Thanks to the new trim levels, the base Envision now starts at less than $40,000 - $39,995, to be precise. The fully loaded Premium II trim sells for $49,565.