Buick added a more powerful engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission, exterior refreshing and technological tweaks for its 2019 five-passenger Envision SUV.
In China, where it is manufactured, Envision sold six times as many vehicles in 2017 than were sold in the U.S., where luxury sport utility vehicle sales were accelerating.
Envision faces disappearance in the United States, a potential casualty of the ongoing trade war between the Trump administration and China. Possible auto import tariffs of 20-25 percent have been proposed.
That would be a shame.
After test-driving the 2019 Envision all-wheel-drive Premium ll (top of five trims), it is a worthwhile, competitive compact luxury SUV capable of holding its own against similarly optioned Mercedes, Lexus, Audi and Infiniti models.
Buick has risen in recent years to reside in the top echelons of J.D. Power consumer ratings. They selected Buick as the 2018 most dependable brand in the auto industry.
Envision slots above the smaller Encore, made in South Korea, and below the larger, third-row Enclave, made in Michigan.
Our tester’s price was outfitted with $4,330 in options for 19-inch-wheels, moonroof, driver safety aids and a bright Chili Red Metallic paint job.
Upgrades from its 2016 U.S. launch include a turbo-charged 2.0-liter engine manipulated by a smoothly integrated 9-speed automatic transmission.
Handling remained confident during a steady rain downpour, and the ride was always composed and quiet on interstates, steady in curves, and the all-wheel drive adjusted wheel spin effectively on a muddy dirt road.
A heads-up display (HUD) included speed limits, navigation cues, and dynamic cruise control spacing (regular cruise control can also be selected). OnStar provided on-screen navigation.
Outside, front fascia was restyled and LED taillights added.
The comfortable and roomy cabin has sliding and reclining rear leather seats suitable for three adults. Fit and finish are excellent with upscale materials and knick-knack spaces plentiful, although map pockets are narrow.
Technology touches include wireless charging and Buick’s vaunted IntelliLink infotainment system easily used via an 8-inch dashboard elevated touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto replace the CD player.
A new in-vehicle ionizer improves air quality, a plus in China’s carbon exhaust haze.
Rear seats fold 60/40 for ample cargo space. A new auto-fill feature tells when tires are properly inflated, including the compact spare tire.
Envision gets top safety scores; visors don’t extend.
LIKES: Ride, power, luxury, fit and finish, quiet, handling, reliability, heads-up display, cargo space, roomy.
DISLIKES: Pricey, No CD, visors don’t extend.
BOTTOM LINE: Luxury at hefty price, quality excellent, enacted tariffs bound to stifle U.S. sales.
BUICK ENVISION AWD PREMIUM ll
Base price w/destination fee: $44,595 ($49,925 as tested)
Vehicle weight: 4,083 lbs.
Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
Length: 183.7 inches
Width: 72.4 inches
Engine: 2.0-liter, inline four cylinders, turbo-charged, VVT
Horsepower: 252 hp at 5,500 rpm
Torque: 295 ft-lbs. at 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed shiftable automatic
EPA rating: 20 mpg city/25 mpg hwy
Range: 17.3-gallons, premium recommended
Performance: 0-60 in under 7 seconds