Near-Luxury Feel. Buick is in a strange place right now. The automaker only sells three SUVs, which toe the line between being mainstream and luxury options. It’s a strange place to occupy, but Buick does it somewhat well. Just like the brand itself, the 2023 Buick Envision is also meant to fit neatly in between the brand's other SUVs that including the tiny Encore GX and midsize Enclave.

The Envision does a good job of highlighting its place in Buick’s lineup and in the marketplace with its high-end design. The made-in-China Envision features some European flair with its sharp headlights, relatively small oval grille, and sharp front fascia. The rear end of the Envision isn’t as dramatic, but it still looks great thanks to a rounded rear bumper, slim taillights, and dual exhaust outlets.

The interior of the Envision does an even better job of balancing that line with more upscale materials than most mainstream brands, but it doesn't have the same quality we’ve come to expect from German automakers. Still, the SUV’s design looks upscale with a center console that’s slightly angled toward the driver, angular lines, and intuitive controls.

Comfort Forward Performance. Luxury brands use performance as a way to stand out from mainstream automakers. Buick doesn’t really do performance. That much is apparent from the Envision’s sole turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 228 horsepower. Against base engines from rivals like the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, the Envision doesn’t offer the same amount of power or the same acceleration.

Instead of performance, the Envision’s four-cylinder engine is all about comfort. The engine’s relaxed power delivery matches the SUV’s smooth ride. The Envision’s suspension is dialed in for comfort and becomes serene on the highway. With the standard suspension, the SUV rides incredibly well on the highway to be a great cruiser. The Avenir comes with 20-inch wheels and an adaptive suspension that result in a jittery ride. Seeing as how the Avenir is nearly $5,000 more than the base Envision, we think this is an easy upgrade to pass.

There are a few disappointing things about Envision’s powertrain. For the level of performance the Envision offers, we were expecting fuel economy to be better. Models with front-wheel drive are rated at up to 26 mpg combined. If you want all-wheel drive, fuel economy drops to 25 mpg combined. Plus, adding AWD to the Envision is a pricey upgrade that costs more than $3,500. Seeing as how quite a few mainstream compact SUVs come with AWD as standard, we’re not sure why Buick charges so much to get it with the Envision.

2022 Buick Envision Interior

Roomy Passenger Space, So-So Cargo Space. As one of the larger compact SUVs in the class, the Envision offers a roomy cabin, especially for four people. Passengers in the front get 40 inches of legroom, which is slightly below average for the class, while those in the back get 39.3 inches. The latter figure is good for the segment.

Passengers are treated to large seats with plenty of support, though the cushions are on the firmer sides. At highway speed, a little bit of wind noise makes its way into the cabin, but with a decent amount of sound deadening and active noise cancellation for the engine, the interior remains fairly quiet.

Consumers looking for an SUV with a roomy cargo area will want to explore some more options. The Envision is far from the roomiest compact SUV on sale with 25.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s plenty of space for groceries and luggage, but others in the segment offer close to 75 cubic feet of total space.

Value-Forward Lineup. With a starting price tag that’s just north of $35,000, the base Envision represents good value. The base trim comes well-equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six audio speakers, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and four USB ports. For $1,850, Buick will add a 10.2-inch touchscreen and a hands-free liftgate, but things like heated front seats and a heated steering wheel aren’t available with the package anymore.

The higher up the Envision lineup you go, the value proposition levels off. The range-topping Avenir has interior materials that match luxurious SUVs, but its list of features doesn’t. The Avenir comes with 20-inch wheels, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, heated rear seats, surround-view cameras, and a head-up display. Compared to luxury SUVs, the Avenir is missing high-end features.

Final Thoughts. The 2023 Buick Envision is a confusing SUV. It looks upscale, is a smooth operator, and has roomy seats, but it’s missing some crucial things. Against rivals, it lags behind when it comes to cargo capacity, performance, fuel economy, and high-end features. The Envision is a hard SUV to recommend, especially because of its odd placement in the segment.

The Genesis GV70 is a value-packed option with an impressive list of features, sporty handling, a gorgeous design, and a high-end interior. The BMW X3 is a well-rounded luxury SUV with a luxurious cabin, athletic performance, high-tech features, and powerful engines.

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