It's difficult to believe a handsome gray compact crossover could be controversial, but like the nerd who gets caught in a high school cafeteria food fight, it's in trouble.
That's because General Motors builds the popular model in China, subjecting it to a 25% tariff. GM asked the Trump administration for an exemption, which of course was denied.
For now, the Envision will continue to be offered domestically, but the days of this excellent crossover are probably numbered. Staying out of politics, let's focus on the vehicle.
No matter where it is built, the Envision looks the part of a Buick crossover. Styling was finessed with a wing-strewn waterfall grille, restyled 19-inch wheels, LED headlamps, LED signature driving lights and chiseled LED taillights. Six portholes on the hood and body sculpting align with other Buicks, but it looks a little bland compared to the rakish Regal, TourX wagon and Enclave full-size crossover.
Interiors are lavishly plush with heated and cooled front seats, heated outboard rear seats and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. There's dual-zone automatic climate control up front and the rear seats have their own controls. Bose audio, head-up display, and panoramic moonroof are also pretty nice. Wireless phone charging, remote starting, and hands free power liftgate add convenience. There's even an automatic parking system.
Our Envision was loaded with infotainment and safety gear, too. The touchscreen is very easy to use for accessing navigation and audio. Devices connect with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. Keeping everybody safe are lane keep assist, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise, forward automatic braking and following distance indicator.
The safety alert seat vibrates when danger is detected, while a chime reminds parents that kids are in the aft section. Cameras put eyes all around.
You'll want to keep all of your eyes pointing forward because the powertrain is surprisingly peppy. Step into the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to stir up 252 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque -- all routed to the all-wheel-drive system through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Clipping the left lane of fast interstates and dispatching farm trucks on country two-lanes proved little concern. However, fuel economy of 20/25-MPG city/highway is unimpressive given you can buy a diesel Ford F-150 Crew Cab that gets exactly those numbers.
Beyond the powertrain, driving the Envision is quite nice. A firm, yet compliant, suspension proves you don't need a complicated electronic system for a controlled ride. Even over broken pavement and railroad tracks, the little crossover soaked it up. And, it is noticeably quiet -- perfect for having an intimate conversation, listening to that Bose audio system or insulating your thoughts from tariffs.
Buick needs to pump up the styling, but the rest of the Envision is spot-on. The interior has all of the expected features and is surprisingly roomy. Out on the road, it is swift and controlled.
Compared to other luxury crossovers, it is a bargain with a base price of $32,990 or $43,600 fully loaded. Tariffs may ultimately make the Envision uncompetitive domestically, but the vehicle is thoroughly competitive with the Jeep Cherokee, Lincoln MKC, Subaru Forester, Volvo XC40 and Acura RDX.
Casey Williams is an Indianapolis automotive journalist. Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.
2019 Buick Envision
- Five-passenger, all-wheel-drive crossover;
- Powertrain: 2.0-liter T4, nine-speed automatic transmission;
- Output: 252 horsepower/295 foot-pounds torque;
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind;
- Wheels f/r: 19-inch, 19-inch alloy;
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc;
- Must-have features: Luxury, powertrain;
- Fuel economy: 20/25 mpg city/hwy;
- Assembly: China;
- Base/As-tested price: $32,990/$43,600