This week I bring you the refreshed 2019 Buick Envision, a midsize family SUV that’s so understated on the outside you’d be forgiven for thinking it wasn’t anything terribly exciting underneath its wrapper. But take a turn behind the wheel and you discover there’s more to this SUV than meets the eye. Not the least of which is a button to disable the last model’s much-maligned stop-start system.
2018 Buick Envision Premium II AWD
My test model is the top-of-the-line Premium II trim equipped with standard all-wheel drive. Admittedly, the Envision’s non-sporty exterior didn’t excite me too much. But it’s OK-looking and well-suited for drivers who prefer a non-polarizing look. The 2019 model brings a new grille design in front and tweaks to the rear. My Bronze Alloy Metallic ($395) tester featured upgraded new 19-inch wheels along with new bi-functional LED headlamps. (LED taillamps also now come on all trims.)
The interior of the top tier Envision is inviting with perforated leather seating and quality soft-touch materials on the dash, console and door panels (one exception would be the glossy faux wood trim on the glove box which I didn’t love.) An 8-way power adjustable driver’s front seat with power lumbar features a thigh extender. Comfort-wise the heated and ventilated front seats were ok, though my back could have used a bit more cushion.
The center stack is well designed overall with everything in easy reach. Things that stand out are touch-sensitive controls operate the climate controlled seats, a wireless phone charging sleeve, along with an electric parking brake. I did, however, find the leather gear shifter cumbersome to use. But Buick did a nice job with the spacious dual-winger center console storage area.
The Premium II’s digital, colorful, tachometer and driver display is a highlight as is a terrific Head Up Display. But not so much the 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, which needed protection from sun glare. It houses Buick’s Infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot along with GM’s Market Place App where you can order things from your car. Navigation comes standard on the Premium II.
While the Envision is technically a compact luxury SUV, it certainly doesn’t feel compact. It’s very roomy both in front and back with plenty of leg and head-room for five adults. Everyone will be breathing easier, too, thanks to a new air ionizer to reduce dust and pollen. Buick didn’t skimp on amenities in the 60/40 split-folding reclining and sliding back seat, either. Soft-touch materials carryover to the door panels and tri-zone climate controls on the upper trims keep back seat passengers comfortable. Drivers can access the amply-sized trunk with a motion-activated liftgate, standard across all trims.
Ride, Drive, and Performance
I must say I didn’t expect to enjoy the Buick’s ride as much as I did. It’s pleasant, smooth and quiet. As the first Buick crossover to get HiPer Strut front suspension, it handled bumps in the road with ease. Acceleration is great too thanks to its 2.0-liter Turbo 4-cylinder engine (lower trims are equipped with a 2.5-liter with 197-horsepower.) Matched to a new 9-speed transmission and all-wheel drive, the Turbo engine delivers 252-horsepower and 292 b-ft of torque, which is up 32 over last year. And wow did I notice its terrific brake performance. Buick tweaked the system to improve overall brake performance with less effort. By the way, I absolutely loved the remote vehicle start system that starts up the engine with the press of a button on the key fob.
Note, the Envision’s Turbo engine recommends Premium Fuel from a capless gas tank.
Start/Stop Disable Button
This news is music to a lot of ears (I can hear Car Pro Show Host Jerry Reynolds’ applause from here!) The 2019 Envision is the first U.S. Buick model to be equipped with a button to disable the start-stop system. Buick added one after listening to feedback from owners who haven’t exactly been enamored with the system’s performance. But I have to tell you, I didn’t need to use it. For 2019, Buick also recalibrated the system for more seamless performance and, for me, it worked so smoothly that I daresay I didn’t notice it at all.
Standard Lineup Features and Premium II Options
Standard features across the Envision lineup include a hands-free power liftgate, rear vision camera, remote vehicle start, carpeted floor mats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, active noise cancellation, push-button start, and electronic parking brake. New standard technology includes a tire fill alert that honks the horn when you reach the right tire pressure.
Options on my test model included a Panoramic moonroof ($1,495) and a Driver Confidence Package ($1,545) detailed below.
Safety and Driver’s Assistance
While my top tier test model is loaded with standard or optional safety technology, Buick falls short when it comes to basic standard driver’s assistance features on lower trims. Unbelievably, front automatic braking is still not standard on ANY trim. You have to spring for the aforementioned Driver Confidence Package ($1,545) available on the Premium II to get it, along with adaptive cruise control and surround vision. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard on the Essence, Premium and Premium II. Forward Collision Warning and Lane Keep Assist, along with seat vibration alerts, are reserved for the Premium and Premium II.
On the plus side, the entire lineup comes equipped with GM’s great Teen Driver and Rear Seat Reminder systems. RSR reminds you to check the back seat for children or pets. In my case, it let me know my laptop was occupying the back seat with three quick honks of the horn.
What You’ll Pay
The 2019 Envision comes with a lower starting price this year (which at first I’d be tempted to say may seem like a better value, but note the continued lack of standard safety features above.) You can get into a base model starting from $31,995, excluding destination. Prices reach well into the $40s with the top-level Premium and Premium II trims.
The Envision excels most when it comes to its 2.0-liter Turbo powertrain and its pleasant ride quality. It also offers some cool tech like remote engine start and the new stop-start disable button. But unless you are springing for the loaded top model, does all that makes up for the lack of key driver’s assistance technology in the lower trims? That’s a question car shoppers must decide for themselves.