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Buick’s Envista Avenir – QUITE GOOD…GENERALLY

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Buick’s Envista Avenir – QUITE GOOD…GENERALLY

Buick’s Envista Avenir

QUITE GOOD…GENERALLY

For Boomers, Buick’s always been there – until, of course, it wasn’t. In the ‘50s a Buick’s footprint (and wingspan!) may have been solely responsible for the popularity of the two-stall garage, given that one stall was hard-pressed to enclose either its length or width. And in the ‘60s it was right behind Cadillac in its design language, and immediately behind Oldsmobile (one-time home of the Rocket 88) in performance. If – in the GM lineup – Chevy was blue collar while Pontiac and Olds were there for middle management, Buick targeted the owner/entrepreneur not wanting to be saddled with the baggage – real and figurative – of Cadillac. And at no time in Buick’s mid-century narrative would we have envisioned the all-new Envista.

This, of course, is a different Buick in 2024 than it was in 1964; hell, it’s considerably different than it was in ’14. The carmaker’s sedan lineup is gone, and one of my favorite models from anyone in the last decade, Buick’s built-by-Opel Regal TourX, left the U.S. market concurrent with GM leaving Europe. Today, Buick is crossovers…nothing but crossovers. And if models like Envision and this week’s subject, the Envista, aren’t familiar, that’s not your fault. For whatever reason, Buick has – of late – been  barely audible in the U.S. marketplace.

This subcompact Envista is as far removed from Buick’s ‘60s-era Electra 225 as its 43 inches of abbreviated length – and roughly one ton of reduced weight – would allow. Sharing its platform with Chevy’s all-new Trax, and residing beneath Buick’s Envision in the Buick showroom, the Envista sits on 106 inches of wheelbase while stretching just over 15 feet in length, while weighing just over 3,100 pounds. It’s tightly drawn, but subcompact crossover is almost a misnomer; this is a small crossover fully capable of handling four adults, or families of four and most of their stuff.

In the walk-up you’ll see that General Motors design continues to be the adult in the room, with a product team presumably assembled from staffers living in their own homes and not – notably – in their parents’ basements. In profile the Envista is a 4-passenger coupe, with a fastback roofline that may not maximize utility, but will certainly make you feel – in both the walkup and behind the wheel – more sporting. And its big hatch will still swallow most of what you throw at it; for me it was a gravel bike, while you could make a Home Depot run. Numerically, the specs suggest 42 cubic feet of storage with the second row folded, and 21 cubic feet with the second row up.

The front fascia offers hints – to my eyes – of Porsche’s Cayenne and maybe (MAYBE!) the Lamborghini Urus, while the oversized grille – what the Chinese dub a wide-Maoth – is expansive, but not offensive. It all flows in a very unified way, especially when compared to some of its competitive set. 

The Envista is also well served by its footprint. Wearing 245/45 Contis on 19-inch rims, the Envista sits like a grown-up, with its proportions nicely balanced atop that footprint, which is unlike some crossovers – Hyundai’s existing Venue and new Santa Fe come to mind – I might suggest. And despite front-wheel drive and the front overhang that inevitably goes along with it, the Envista doesn’t seem as nose heavy as others; here I’m thinking Honda’s HR-V and almost any Mazda.

Inside, the overall impression is upmarket, and that was confirmed by Car-ED co-founder Kevin Joostema. Kevin has served on product and marketing teams at Honda, VW and Cadillac, and knows a well-trimmed interior when he sees one. He and I both noted lapses, and to-the-price-point plastics in some applications, but the main takeaway is a comfortable, ergonomic execution of a subcompact interior – and one that, despite the subcompact descriptive, does a damn good job of seating four and their stuff. And with the aforementioned hatch and folding rear seat, airport runs won’t require UberX – unless, of course, you want UberX.

Under the hood, what I initially thought was 1.5 liters of turbo power was, instead, but 1.2 liters of turbocharged three. And for many reviewers this package – again, shared with Chevy’s Trax – apparently comes up short. Those reviewers, however, don’t share my automotive history. My first car in high school – a ’66 Beetle – delivered but 50 horsepower from its 1.3 liter air-cooled four, while my first new car, a ’72 Fiat 128, had but 1.1 liters to get itself going. And when I put the Fiat into a Brown County, Indiana ditch, I did so at a reasonably high speed. 

In short, 1.2 liters, delivering 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque through its standard 6-speed automatic, is a good example of doing more with less. Response from idle is good, cruising at highway speeds is comfortable, and merging onto freeways is as safe as you’d hope it to be. The only real gripe is the EPA’s 28 City/32 Highway/30 Combined estimate, when the buying public is beginning to expect something closer to 40.

Buick’s Envista has a base price of under $25,000. In our top-of-the-line Avenir trim it stickered for just over $31K with destination. In an age of sticker shock sending many buyers – even younger buyers – into cardiac arrest, Buick’s Envista offers a real solution to this affordability crisis. Perhaps Buick should make this great deal…more of a big deal. Perhaps?

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as AutoTrader.com, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Buick Envista and Chevrolet Trax – TWO FOR THE ROAD | txGarage

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