DETROIT — Buick is clearly a global car. We read somewhere that five times more Buicks are sold in China than in the U.S. And to take advantage of the crossover craze, Buick has switched to an all-crossover lineup.
The latest addition is the 2021 Buick Envision. It is billed as a compact SUV. It is lower and wider than most crossovers and that gives it the silhouette of a car. But the cargo area has 25 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seat upright and more than 50 cubic feet of storage with the second-row seats folded.
Buick said its 2021 Envision has the look and performance of a car and the functionality of a crossover.
During our weeklong test drive, we felt the oomph of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which has 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. It was mated to a nine-speed automatic engine.
The engine was smooth and power distribution was substantial. There were times during light early-morning traffic, we easily were doing 80 mph without any aural strain on the engine to get there.
This transmission was smooth, shifted effortlessly and was decisive in its gear selection. Oh, there was also paddle shifters that we never used. It could tow up to 1,500 lbs.
There were three trim lines, and we had the Essence all-wheel drive. The package got 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. And there were four drive modes: touring, all-wheel drive, sport and off-road.
We’re not sure about that last one. The styling and sleekness of the Envision did not lend itself to any sort of off-road jaunts. In these parts, something to deal with snow and ice would be better.
The instruments were a hybrid blend of analog and digital with the odometer and speedometer having old fashion numbers and the TFT screen between them being digital.
We had heated seats and a heated steering wheel. The climate controls were under the infotainment touch screen. There were 2 USB jacks beneath them with a 12V plug beside them.
There was a head-up display and we had a choice of four different packages of information that could be displayed. Keys are rapidly becoming extinct. Our test car was keyless with stop-start and a polymer veneer strip across the dash which was nicely done.
Over the years, the brand has not lost one of its most noted traits. This crossover was Buick quiet. Its road manners were excellent; it handled to bumps and ruts of metropolitan driving without a hitch.
There were two more USB jacks in the back seat area. There was plenty of headroom and legroom. We thought the rear seats were a little firmer than the front seats. And we found the door panels a little less soft. Besides, even in the front, the door panels were softer toward the opening and firmer toward the hinges.
Because of the high tunnel that was needed to accommodate all-wheel drive, we think three sitting in the back seat would really be uncomfortable. There was white ambient lighting that was faint but distinctive. We had stitching too.
The power windows were not automatic. Other than the driver’s, the windows went down automatically with one touch. But they would not go up. And the side panels had some sort of design that looked like watermarks. But they were barely noticeable.
Our test vehicle had a couple of options packages. The technology package included navigation, Bluetooth streaming, voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a memory card slot.
The sport touring package included body-colored door handles, tonneau cover for the rear cargo space, black roof rails, 20-inch alloy wheels and unique badging.
For $43,115, the 2021 Buick Envision AWD seemed like a good value.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.