2023 Buick Envision Review

2023 Buick Envision - Not sporty but luxurious and affordable, Envision deserves more respect.


Sitting in the middle of Buick's crossover lineup, the Envision is a 5-passenger compact-to-mid-size 4-door wagon. It's offered with front- or all-wheel drive. It was most-recently redesigned in 2022 and stands pat for 2023. The '22 refresh brought new styling, more power, a revised interior and additional features. Competitors include the Alfa-Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, BMX X3, Cadillac XT4, Genesis GV70, Infiniti QX50, Lexus NX, Lincoln Nautilus, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo CX60.

Envision is offered in Preferred, Essence and Avenir trim. All get a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 228-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Sole transmission is a 9-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard on Preferred and Essence. All-wheel drive is optional on those models and standard with Avenir trim. Towing capacity is a modest 1,500 pounds.

Pricing starts at just under $35,000 for the Preferred, climbs to $39,00 for the Essence and tops out at $47,000 for the line-topping Avenir. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with brake assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Other standard features include LED headlights, heated exterior mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Comfort and Convenience and Sport Touring Packages are available on certain trim levels. 

With a single engine/transmission combo, Envision buyers are faced with a take-it or leave-it proposition. Take the modest-but-acceptable motivation provided by the only engine option or buy something else. Truth be told, the powertrain is more than adequate for the purpose, pushing the Envision from 0 to 60 MPH in about 7.5 seconds. Not as quick as some more expensive competitors, but respectable none-the-less. In addition, the engine is smooth and quiet, and the transmission shifts seamlessly between gears.

EPA numbers are quite respectable as well with the Envision AWD garnering 22 MPG city, 29 MPG highway and 25 MPG overall. Those numbers are solid in the class and the engine runs fine on less-expensive regular-grade gasoline. In routine suburban commuting expect to average better than the 25 combined number - unless you are a lead foot. The 15.9-gallon fuel tank is fairly common in the class and gives Envision a highway range of about 450 miles.

Envision's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range as is not intended for off-road use. In reality, all-wheel-drive set-ups in vehicles like Envision ad more piece of mind than actual capability. Certainly, there is a traction benefit, but the system does not add cornering or stopping ability and, oftentimes, gives a driver a false sense of confidence on slippery roads.

Dynamically, Envision is one of the least athletic luxury crossovers - and for good reason. Buick has clearly defined its mission as the domestic Lexus (and that's a good thing). Quiet, comfortable and safe is the Buick mission and Envision follows that to a T.

Certainly, more agile than your father's Buick, Envision is quite easy to drive around town and nicely mannered on the highway. Brakes have ample stopping power and the pedal is quite easy to modulate. The steering has enough heft and feel to feel connected, but not so much as it's ever hard to manage. Envision tracks straight and true on the highway and is mostly immune to strong crosswinds. The suspension soaks up bumps with aplomb and does a decent job of minimizing secondary motions and body lean. Still, the tires give in quickly when rounding corners and there's too much compliance in quick transitions.

If you didn't know it, you'd assume you were riding in a Lexus because the Envision is so quiet. It might even be quieter overall because there the Envision has less tire noise than a Lexus NX. There is just a whisper of wind noise at highway speed and the engine never intrudes.

Envision sports a contemporary and modern interior that's quite user friendly. It's not European austere nor it is Asian baroque. It's American, form-over-function with just enough style and flourish to meet the class, and price, expectations. While it eschews a digital instrument cluster and humongous center screen, it provides all the necessary information and functionality with a cohesive and comprehensive approach. Materials are a cut above the norm, especially the seating surfaces and assembly quality was beyond reproach. Avenir models take things a step further with quilted leather, heated and ventilated and massaging seats.

The front seats are quite comfortable and provide enough adjustments to suit most drivers. Reach seats are bench-like and don't provide nearly the same levels of comfort and support. Front or rear, head and leg room are adequate. This isn't the roomiest crossover out there, but its has more space than a typical compact and four adults can ride in ample comfort thanks to wide opening doors, a low step in and a fairly tall roofline. Same goes for outward visibility, which is better to the sides and rear than a lot of, shall we say, overly styled competitors.

From a tech and safety standpoint, Envision has all of the features a buyer would expect, but without the complexity that often comes with it. No, it cannot park itself or arrange for dinner reservations, but it's also a vehicle you can simply drive without distraction. Wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard. The available 10-inch touchscreen is conveniently place and canted toward the driver. Driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance are well tuned and operate smoothly. About the only demerit are smallish climate control buttons, but they are, thankfully, independent from the infotainment touch screen.

With a cargo capacity of just 25.2 cubic fee with the rear seats in use, Envision falls behind most midsize competitors, but is mostly on par with compact competitors. Fold the seats down and capacity grows to 52.7 cubic feet. The hatch opening is large and you can set the opening height to prevent impacts in low-ceiling situations. Interior storage is modest with just a few open and covered bins throughout.

Bottom Line -- Sometimes forgotten, Buick's midsize crossover offers great comfort, value, and features. It is not sporty and it is not overburdened with technology for technology's sake. Prices generally undercut most luxury offerings by a wide margin. For value-conscious luxury buyers that are leaning towards comfort Envision is a great choice. If you want to spend the same kind of money but get sport, you either have to downside or perhaps consider the Mazda CX-5/CX-50.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.