Initially released for the Chinese market before making its way to North America in 2016, Buick welcomes the second generation Envision for the 2021 model year. Bigger and better in almost every category, Epoch Times took the compact crossover for a week-long test drive to get a feel for all the new changes. And there are many.
Aiming for a more athletic look, the vehicle is 43 millimetres wider, 30 millimetres shorter in length, and 56 millimetres lower in height than its predecessor – providing more car vs. SUV-like proportions. Our Essence mid-grade loaner had the Sport Touring package added on, equipping gorgeous 20-inch black aluminum wheels, black roof rails, and a dark glossy finish on the exhaust bezels, window trim and mirror caps.
Compared to the outgoing version, the grille has been stretched out to meet the slimmer LED headlamps. Similarly, the taillights are also skinnier, and the twin exhaust pipes are housed inside trapezoidal surrounds.
While the outside portrays an air of sportiness, the interior is all about elegance.
“The new Envision’s cabin is welcoming, with a comfortable and premium environment intended to make the driver and passengers feel like every excursion is an occasion,” said design manager Rob Cameron. “All of the elements are designed to celebrate what customers use the most on their drives today.”
Simple and understated, there’s perforated heated leather seating, an air ionizer with air quality indicator, active noise cancellation, and a big panoramic moonroof. The 10-inch touchscreen display and centre stack are interestingly angled towards the driver and features wireless integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (no more USB cables!)
Especially in modern times, there’s no shortage of personal belongings to carry around, from phones to various portable entertainment devices. Luckily there’s a huge hidden storage compartment underneath the double-winged armrest, and another covered one below the instrument panel.
When the need arises to carry something bigger, the 40/60 split second row can fold flush to the cargo floor, allowing easy ingress and egress of cargo. We did some light moving and the 1,492 litres of available space swallowed up boxes and awkwardly-shaped large items effortlessly.
All Envisions are propelled by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, generating 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain has some pep, accelerating from a stop nimbly, and to my pleasant surprise, emits a cool little under hood burble whenever throttle is applied.
The SUV rides on a next-generation front strut and rear five-link independent suspension that offers both a supple and composed ride at the same time. Paired with the Essence’s standard all-wheel drive system, this crossover can handle a corner or two no problem.
The MSRP for the 2021 Buick Envision Essence starts at $39,698. Also available are a base front-wheel drive Preferred trim, as well as the top-of-the-line Avenir which boasting a mesh grill, ventilated diamond-quilted leather seats, heated rear bench, wireless smartphone charging, and exclusive Pearl Nickel coloured alloys.
Benjamin Yong is a freelance writer from Vancouver, B.C. and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Follow him on Twitter @b_yong.