It seems a strange thing for a vehicle to be known for, but at a point in time where Chinese car manufacturers have yet to enter the Canadian marketplace, the Buick Envision compact crossover remains notable for being the first Chinese-built vehicle to reach a showroom in this country.
No, that's not the same as a Chinese-based company marketing a car here, but it is a sign that country's auto industry is continuing its climb toward legitimacy.
The Envision's most notable update for 2019 is a new nine-speed automatic transmission to go with the optional 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That's a combo Chevrolet buyers already had access to in the Equinox, a mechanical near-twin to this Buick.
Other news includes new LED headlights that replace HIDs in Premium trim models; HIDs are now standard across the rest of the Envision range, in place of halogens.
Also new to the Envision lineup this year is a tire fill alert system, and wireless smartphone charging.
In all other ways, this handsome small crossover carries over unchanged from 2018. Engine choices start with a 2.5L four-cylinder that makes 197 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque and comes matched with a six-speed automatic transmission in Preferred and Essence trims.
The Premium I and Premium II variants continue to use that 2.0L turbo mill, rated at 252 hp and 260 lb-ft.
All Envision models come standard with all-wheel drive, with Premium models getting a more sophisticated torque vectoring system that can direct all of the engine’s power to either front or rear axles, and can further divide power between the two rear wheels. It's not unlike Acura's SH-AWD system in that it was conceived to improve dry-road handling as well as to boost grip on slippy surfaces. Those Premium models also benefit from Buick’s HiPer strut front suspension, which aids steering feel.
Other standard features across the range include dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, eight-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility, six-speaker stereo, power tailgate, fog lights, passive keyless entry, backup camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror and eight-way power front seats.
The new nine-speed transmission gives Buick the number of gear ratios it needs to keep up in the more-is-better race that, to this point, the Envision's European competition had been winning: the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 both use eight-speeds, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class has a nine-speed.
At the time of this writing, Natural Resources Canada hadn't published Buick's fuel consumption estimates for the 2019 Envision, but expect the new nine-speed to improve those ratings to something like 10.9/8.3 L/100 km (city/highway), the figures NRCan cites for the Equinox with its 2.0L turbo/nine-speed combo; that would a notable improvement from the 2018 turbo model's 11.8/9.1 L/100 km ratings. Figures for the 2.5L engine should remain the same, at 11.1/8.6.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed