With the arrival of the new Buick Envision came the arrival of Deanne’s sister Leah and her husband Don from the Portland, Oregon, area, who we had not seen for over a year because of the pandemic.
After arriving, they had the desire to visit Deanne’s brother David in Parowan. It seemed like the perfect combination, seeing relatives and getting some extended driving time in Buick’s new premium Envision SUV, which it designed to “stand out” by featuring upscale exterior and interior design features.
“The all-new 2021 Envision is a tremendous opportunity for the brand,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC. “With strong, differentiated designs, and a combination of advanced technologies and premium appointments, it will stand apart in one of the industry’s most competitive segments.”
After that, it seemed like putting four grown adults into the Envision and heading two and half hours south on I-15 would really show if the new design would stand out. The first bit of good news was that all four of us fit very comfortably into the Buick, which from the outside does not appear to have the space inside that would have accommodated us all.
This mystique added to the appeal of the Envision for all of us, as from that first impression it looked extremely sporty. But after five hours in the SUV, we arrived completely relaxed and comforted from the long drive in both directions.
Inside, the new all-new SUV is very comfortable, and easy to get in and out of for us age-advanced adults. It is loaded with all kinds of new enhancements and technological additions. The first thing we noticed was the departure from the old, standard 8-inch infotainment screen to a new 10.2-inch touch screen that is slightly tilted toward the driver for a much better view and ease of use.
Phone connection was super simple, taking less than a minute to complete before our start for Parowan. And the best part was that Apple CarPlay was wireless, a feature that is becoming more and more prevalent with the model year 2021. This made it easy to talk with Siri and get our destination input with ease.
Being a weekday drive, this was a huge help for Craig. With this system, Siri will read text messages and allow response via voice — no need to look at the phone or the infotainment screen! So work was able to continue in the middle of the week on the daylong drive.
With the added heads-up display coming with the add-on of the Technology Package ($2,500), the drive could certainly not have been any more perfect. Of course, the leather heated seats and steering wheel also contributed for the first hour of the drive as temperatures stared in the low 40s.
Safety has been a key factor in this all-new design for Buick, with them now including many standard features: automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian detection, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, lane change assist with blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, intelligent high beams, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist and following distance indicator.
It was this last one, following distance indicator, that kind of got our attention, especially on the drive, as we thought that it would function like adaptive cruise control because the buttons had similar indicators on them. However, it did not; it would only indicate that we were getting closer to upcoming vehicles. This worked all the time even without cruise control engaged.
Adaptive cruise control can be added to the Envision and we would recommend that addition, especially if you are planning to take longer trips or even have a daily commute that can be complicated with stop-and-go traffic. We did find it somewhat strange that this was not part of the package, as so much other technology seemed to be included with the SUV.
All of the other safety features worked perfectly, proving to be a huge help during our day trip and throughout our week with the Envision. Blind spot monitoring is so helpful on the freeway when changing lanes and along with rear cross traffic alert proves to make just backing out of the driveway a better experience.
Under the hood, the Envision excels, coming with a 2.0-liter I-4 power plant that proved to be a huge bonus when needed. Even under what would be considered possibly extreme grades heading into southern Utah, acceleration worked flawlessly. It would climb the mountain passes with ease and maintain the 80 mph speed limit, even loaded with four adults and everything we needed for the day trip.
Providing 228 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque, all managed through a nine-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift control, it proved to be way more than we would have anticipated with the mid-sized SUV. After a week with the Envision and over 500 miles of driving, we averaged 28.1 mpg, above the EPA estimate of the 26 we would have expected — again, a very nice number for the size of the vehicle.
Our test ride came in the front-wheel-drive version, but we would most likely go for the all-wheel-drive model to be more compatible with the Utah winters, which may affect the mileage numbers slightly.
One other thing we ought to mention is that, for the first time, Buick has added an air ionizer to one of their models that will help to monitor the quality of the interior air. With folks spending upwards of 10 hours a week in their vehicles, this is becoming a more prevalent environmental need for consumers.
The new Buick Envision proved to be a great long-haul vehicle along with being the perfect everyday driver — small and nimble yet large enough to get out and spend some time with the relatives.
Base price: $35,800
Price as driven: $41,315