Compact crossovers make up the meat of the upscale utility vehicle market, so it surprised us that Buick waited until 2016 to field an entry in this competitive segment.
The Envision occupies the middle spot in the Buick SUV range, in between the Encore and Enclave. It competes with heavyweights like the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Volvo XC60, Acura RDX, Lexus NX and Cadillac XT5.
For 2020, the Envision is unchanged, save for the addition of two paint colours.
Like last year, it comes in Preferred, Essence, Premium and Premium II trims. Preferred and Essence use a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that makes 197 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Premium trim levels share a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder good for 252 hp and 295 lb-ft. It comes with a nine-speed automatic.
It's easy to assume the Envision is a more relaxed driver than many of its competitors. That might be true for the entry-level Preferred and Essence trims, but beyond its stronger engine, the Premium trim models get a more sophisticated HiPer strut front suspension that makes a measurable difference in handling. And while all Envision models get standard AWD, Premium models get a more sophisticated setup that can direct all of the engine's power to the front or rear wheels, and can further split it between the two rear wheels.
Starting with Preferred trim, standard features include 18-inch wheels and tires, automatic on-off headlights, LED daytime running lights, fog lights, hands-free power tailgate, heated side mirrors, LED taillights, a 4.2-inch driver information display, heated eight-way electric front seats, active noise cancellation, 8.0-inch infotainment display, USB phone charging ports, dual-zone automatic climate control, engine start/stop system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, passive keyless entry and start, ambient interior lighting and rear parking sensors.
Essence trim adds chrome roof rails, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, blind spot monitor with lane change and rear cross traffic alerts, perforated leather seating and three-zone climate control.
Premium trim brings the 2.0L turbo engine and nine-speed transmission, a Bose stereo system, HiPer Strut front suspension, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, 8.0-inch digital gauge display, front and rear park assist, following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning and a safety alert driver's seat.
Premium II adds automatic parking assist, navigation, ventilated front seats, a head-up display, driver's seat thigh support and wireless smartphone charging.
Premium II options include a surround-view exterior camera system and forward automatic emergency braking.
Buick's fuel consumption estimates are 11.1/8.6 L/100 km (city/highway) for Preferred and Essence trims with the 2.5L engine, and 11.7/9.4 L/100 km for the Premium's 2.0L turbo engine.