The all-new 2016 Buick Envision slots between the subcompact Encore and the midsize Enclave SUVs. As a premium compact crossover SUV, the 5-passenger Envision offers more amenities than a mainstream SUV like the Honda CR-V, but less swank than a Mercedes-Benz GLC or its own cousin, the Cadillac XT5. Like other Buicks, the Envision stands out with its quiet, comfortable manners.
You'll Like The 2016 Buick Envision If...
If you want a smaller, upscale SUV that is calm, refined, roomy and a good value, the Envision excels in those traditional Buick traits. Its sleek looks and small footprint bring sophistication and easy driving manners to a variety of settings.
You May Not Like The 2016 Buick Envision If...
There's no denying that Buick is no BMW or Mercedes when it comes to brand prestige. If sportier handling is more important to you, try the BMW X3, Infiniti QX50, Audi Q5, or the Acura RDX. Those seeking a wider range of trims or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will have to wait for the 2017 Buick Envision.
The Buick Envision is an all-new SUV, at least in the United States. It's been a big success -- and is made -- in China. The Envision is among the first of a handful of cars imported from China. If its quality is any indicator, it won't be the last.
The Envision's 5-passenger cabin is an open, airy, comfortable place to be. As mentioned above, rear-seat accommodations are noteworthy for their flat floor, and those in back also get their own climate controls and 120-volt AC-style outlet and USB ports for powering electronics. The front seating area feels equally spacious and controls and buttons for climate, audio and the like are easy to identify and use. Moreover, we're thankful that there are actual buttons and knobs, vs. the finicky touch-based systems employed by others. An analog clock to the upper right of the standard 8-inch Buick IntelliLink screen may seem a bit odd or refreshing, depending how you view this tradition.
The all-new Envision deftly splits the difference between the subcompact, nearly nubby Encore SUV and the larger, nearly bloaty Enclave. Comparatively, the Envision is a sleek Goldilocks with fine proportions and handsome, albeit conservative looks. We like the standard power tailgate that has adjustable lift height and hands-free operation (just stick your foot near the bumper). We're still not a fan of the portholes in the hood that serve no function other than keeping tradition.
While the Envision will offer a choice of two 4-cylinder engines next year, this year's models all use the up-level turbocharged version mated exclusively to an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. During our tests on both GM's arduous proving grounds in Michigan and on public roads around Detroit, we found the Envision to be more relaxed and quieter than rivals like the RDX and Q5. This new Buick crossover SUV adeptly absorbed the worst dips, bumps and contusions the proving grounds could throw at it. Its 252-horsepower turbocharged engine, meanwhile, offered good if not the quickest acceleration. That is more than enough power to make the Envision playful, and we also give props to its AWD system that helped maintain grip and agility upon exiting corners at speed. On the flip side, emergency stops were about as non-stressful as can be when slamming the brakes from 70 mph. The Envision's auto start/stop system that shuts off the engine at idle isn't defeatable, but also isn't the most intrusive we've experienced.
With a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just shy of $43,000 for a Premium model and just under $46,000 for a top-line Premium II trim, the 2016 Buick Envision has to work to be seen as a bargain. These prices are higher than those of rivals like the Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Lexus NX, Infiniti QX50, and even the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Keep in mind, however, that this is because the Envision for 2016 is only being sold in two top trims, and as such it is competitively priced compared to higher trims of its rivals. When the full lineup arrives for the 2017 Buick Envision, prices are set to start in the mid-$30,000 range. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Envision. As this is an all-new vehicle, the Envision SUV's resale value is still to be determined.
With the limited-run 2016 Envision sold in just two premium trims, all models come very well equipped. Included are a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive, an 8-inch touch screen display with rear-view camera and front and rear parking assist, leather, power-operated and heated front seats, a power liftgate, a heated steering wheel, and tri-zone climate control. A 7-speaker Bose premium system with AM/FM/USB/Bluetooth functionality provides audio. And if a CD player is a must-have in your Envision, get it now, as it won't be available in 2017 models (which will offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Safety features include forward collision alert, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and five years of OnStar teleservices.
The top-line Envision Premium II SUV adds high-intensity headlights, navigation, ventilated front seats, automatic park assist to help you snag smaller spots, and a head-up display. Options include a power moonroof, active safety front automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera, in-cabin 4G LTE connectivity with Wi-Fi access, adaptive cruise control, and a trailering package.
If you see a car as a sanctuary from the harried outside world, you'll enjoy the new Envision. Thanks to Buick's QuietTuning technology and active noise-cancelation system, this new crossover SUV feels like a reprieve from the stress of everyday life.
All-wheel drive and proud of it, the all-new Envision's rear passenger area stands out for what it doesn't have: an intrusive hump down the middle. Buick found a way to hide the transmission tunnel, thereby creating a flat floor. This leads to great comfort, especially for middle passengers.
Under the Hood
The 2016 Buick Envision is solely available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. When the 2017 Envision arrives, this will be the top engine (with a less-powerful, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder standard on lower trims). Power is more than adequate, if not segment-leading, with negligible lag and impressive torque available at a low rpm. The Envision engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which we found smooth and refined, and for 2016, all models come exclusively with all-wheel drive. The all-new Envision's fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg city/26 highway. Its 22 mpg combined matches an all-wheel-drive RDX and Lincoln MKC, and slightly trails the Audi Q5 and Lexus NX 200t. Towing is not a strong point, as the Envision is only rated for 1,500 pounds.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
252 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg
The 2016 Buick Envision is an all-new SUV that slots between the subcompact Encore and the midsize Enclave. As an upscale 2-row, 5-passenger crossover SUV, the Envision aims to compete with vehicles like the Acura RDX, Lincoln MKC and Audi Q5. With its "premium" (vs. full-on "luxury") status, the Envision offers more amenities and prestige than a mainstream compact SUV like the Honda CR-V, but less swank than a Mercedes-Benz GLC or its own cousin, the Cadillac XT5. For 2016, the Envision is limited to two trims laced in leather and powered by a turbocharge engine. Its lineup will expand in 2017 with less-expensive models. Like other Buicks, the Envision embraces comfort, quiet and value over dynamic handling and brand panache.