The party started long before the 2017 Buick Envision sashayed in, flashing tight creases and curves.
Even cloaked in glossy silver, though, the Envision couldn’t claim to be fashionably late.
Two years ago, the roaring compact crossover segment began filling with vehicles like the Acura RDX, Lincoln MKC, Audi Q5 and BMW X1 – all of which Buick sees as competitors for the Envision.
That’s some serious strut.
Let’s be honest here: the Envision is about as distinct as another caustic tweet from Big Don Trump. (I really expect the Prez to be shredding me any day now for not being taller and better looking. I’m working on it, sir.)
Not that the Envision is unattractive, however. The two-box wagon just feels pretty darn familiar – kind of like being at the annual family reunion and realizing you look an awful lot like all your gomer cousins.
Traces of several other vehicles cling to the Envision’s sleek, sculpted sides, whispering Ford and Acura.
But my Envision definitely shouted Buick up front, sporting a big bold grille with an emblem in the center large enough to leave a distinct imprint on the garage wall – uh, not that I did, GM. Honest.
Likewise, aggressive headlamps complemented a slightly raised hood and big, raked-back windshield.
Though the all-wheel-drive Envision weighed a porky 4,000 pounds, it felt smaller – helped by short overhangs front and back, and optional 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 235/50 tires that filled the wells.
Similarly, the rear, at least murmured Buick, marked by wrap-around tail lamps and another prominent Buford emblem in the center of the hatchback.
The sides, meanwhile, seemed more derivative, with a subtle character line down low and a more prominent one up high running through the door handles.
I kept seeing Ford Escape from the back door to the tail lamps — which might not be quite the image upscale Buick aims for.
Still, most of your neighbors will be fairly impressed if you drive home in a new Envision.
Just don’t take them for any joyrides.
The Envision Premium I had got its push from a turbocharged 2-liter four cylinder that generated a reasonable 252 horsepower and was tied to a six-speed automatic.
Moreover, the mini-motor twisted out a healthy 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm.
While the huffed, direct-injected engine had two tons to move, it appeared on paper to have the muscle for the job – and did, but it was about as exciting as watching a bunch of my fellow seniors play softball.
“Where’s the ball?”
Drive the Envision like an adult and it feels smooth and adequate, accelerating to 60 mph in a decent 7.1 seconds, according to Car and Driver, but the engine seemed soft, lacking the sizzle and pop provided by some turbo four-bangers.
The fuel economy, meanwhile, also struck me as pretty average – 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway.
Fortunately, the steering – rapidly becoming a General Motors strength – was well weighted and quick, and the suspension firm enough to competently negotiate curves.
Although not sporting, the Envision moved with European firmness and compliance, making a couple of fairly long drives to downtown Dallas easy work.
In addition, my Premium model came standard with all-wheel drive, which scoffed at a recent dusting of snow while remaining mostly invisible.
While smallish with a length of about 184 inches, the Envision provided good leg- and head-room in back for me – and I am slightly larger than your average 12-year-old – as well as 27-cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seats.
With a window-sticker of $44,135, my Envision seemed a bit pricey, but it’s brown interior felt mostly upscale. A fairly flat brown dash in pliable, high-end plastic sloped gently from a hood over the instrument panel to the glove compartment. Fake dark-brown wood added a slightly retro band to the classy dash, which wrapped around an 8-inch display screen and dropped onto a broad console.
Like the dash, the console wore more of the dark-brown wood trim, while the door panels featured interesting curves and swoops, as well as padded brown centers.
The seats, meanwhile, also kept the interior on a high note, wearing smooth brown leather with perforated centers.
Initially, I was a bit miffed that my well-equipped Envision didn’t even offer a “sport” button to firm the suspension, quicken the steering, and add some zip to the engine, but, hey…maybe that would be out of character for the Envision. As a Buick, it looks pleasantly stylish, coddles its occupants in a tight, silent, well-executed interior and moves with quiet confidence.
Those traits have served Buick well for decades.