About as average as they come. The Buick Envision debuted in 2016 with a good amount of fanfare, as it was supposed to finally give the brand a legit near-luxury compact crossover to scoop up lighter-walleted BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class shoppers.
While it started competitively, the 2020 Buick Envision struggles to keep pace with an ever-changing class and is now about as average as they come for a sub-luxury crossover that tops the $40,000 price point in its higher trims.
Satisfying turbo engine, but it’ll cost you. The Buick Envision comes standard with an underwhelming 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces just 197 horsepower. This puts it about in line with its sub-luxury competition, but it falls way short of luxury models like the Volvo XC90 at 250 hp and the X3 at 248 hp.
The optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the better option for buyers looking to go apples to apples against European metal, as it pushes 252 hp through a nine-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers satisfying straight-line speed and smooth shifting.
While the boosted engine satisfies your inner driver, it'll tug hard at your bank account. The 2.0-liter engine won't only cost you more up front, it’ll siphon cash at the pump. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, which drags fuel economy to an EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon combined. Making matters worse, this engine sips only the finest premium fuel, further increasing your cost of ownership.
Comfort for four. The Buick Envision’s focus is on interior comfort, and it delivers the goods for up to four people. Its front seats come standard with heat and boast eight-way power adjustments, giving every size driver and passenger plenty of seating positions in all trim levels.
In the rear, the passengers get a relatively wide door opening for easy access, a high-mounted bench for additional knee room, and a respectable 37.5 inches of leg room. The latter beats the X3 by 1.1 inches and the GLC-Class by 0.3 inches.
Keep in mind, though, that despite it having a middle seat, the second row is best suited for two adults. Trying to cram three adults in the rear seat will likely lead to some complaints.
With its extra rear leg room, the Envision gives up a lot in cargo room with 26.9 cubic feet with the seats upright and 57.3 cubes with them folded. The X3 beats it by 1.2 cubic feet with the seats up and 5.4 with the seats folded. The Mazda CX-5 beats the Envision’s cargo area by 4 cubic feet with the seats upright and 2.3 cubes with the rear seats folded.
Despite some shortcomings, the Envision’s sound-deadening insulation and standard active noise cancellation make the cabin whisper quiet while the chassis delivers a smooth ride. Buyers with a particularly sensitive backsides to bumps may prefer the 17- or 18-inch wheels with thicker-sidewall tires to the 19-inch rollers, though we found every wheel option plenty comfy.
High-cost safety tech. The Buick Envision’s base trim boasts the interior tech most buyers look for today, including a standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.
Even some of the more premium models, like the X3 and GLC-Class, lack standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In the case of the X3, Android integration isn’t even on the options list.
Where the Envision comes to a screeching halt – or doesn’t come to a halt, maybe – is its lack of standard advanced safety tech. While most family-hauling crossovers now come standard with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and other advanced stay-safe goodies, the Envision wants you to pay top dollar for them.
Not only is automatic emergency braking part of the $1,545 Driver Confidence Package, it's only available in the range-topping Premium II trim, which results in a $46,835 price tag (destination fees included).
Final thoughts. Buyers who want a crossover that rides like a luxury rig and has all the technology they crave will find this in the 2020 Buick Envision. That said, the Envision’s expensive automatic emergency braking system shows a lack of … well, vision.
Buyers who must have all the tech and more accessible advanced safety equipment can throw a stone at any other showroom and hit a model that includes this and more. Not that we recommend tossing rocks at cars.
The CX-5 includes this safety equipment on all trims above the base model, and the three German brands – Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz – include it standard on theirs.
Check prices for the 2020 Buick Envision »