Buick delivers early look at ’21 Envision

Redesigned 2021 Buick Envision is more fuel-efficient. (Bud Wells photo)

As the 2021 Buick Envision showed up in my driveway, after I’d cleared the snow, I was impressed with its appearance – lower and wider than last year, finished in cinnabar metallic, with dark 20-inch wheels and dark-gloss grille and chrome inserts.

I’d not seen any of the redesigned Envisions on the roads and I was looking forward to one after this e-mail:

“We’d love to give you access for a week in one of our upscale 2021 Buick Envision models,” sent to me from Shauna Sichi of General Motors Communications West Coast in Los Angeles.

It is the 2021 Buick Envision Essence, a luxury compact SUV crossover, with new design, interior and powertrain. But, heck, the one delivered was of front-wheel-drive configuration (all-wheel drive is an $1,800 option). Why send a FWD crossover into Colorado in the middle of the winter?

No matter, though, I said I would drive it and I was happy to do so – 350 miles during the week.

The Envision is built in China, at a General Motors’ plant in Yantail, southeast of Beijing. Buick in the early days of the 20th century established its legacy in China as a prestigious automobile, and as recent as 2013 sold more than 800,000 vehicles over there.

Highlighting the new Envision is a more fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder of direct-injection and stop/start technology. Mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, it develops 228 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque; somewhat slow off the line, it performs with good thrust midrange, and earns an EPA estimate of 24/31 in FWD form. I averaged 26.8 miles per gallon overall; two years ago with a ’19 Envision, my overall average was 20.5. Fuel tank capacity is 16.1 gallons; premium unleaded is recommended.

Builders of the Buick see the major competitors of the Envision here at home as domestic rival Lincoln Corsair and Japanese-based compacts Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50. Three quality compacts from Germany, the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, are higher-priced.

The new Envision is an inch longer in wheelbase, 2 inches wider and overall height is 3 inches lower than last year. Inside, its center stack is tilted toward the driver, features a 10.2 infotainment center and below that the electronic shifter with push and pull buttons.

The Envision’s rear cargo space of 25 cubic feet tightens somewhat when compared with the three designated rivals – Infiniti with 31.4 feet, Acura with 29.5 and Lincoln 27.6.

Center stack is tilted toward driver; shifter is electronic buttons. (Buick)

The Essence is the middle of three trim levels for Envision; its sticker price reached $41,315 with addition of a technical package of head-up display, Bose audio, navigation and sport touring package of the dark wheels and grille and black roof rails.

Among standard safety features are automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert and auto high beams.