When a compact SUV approaches the $50,000 mark, customers expect luxury levels of style and performance.
Today's tester, a 2019 Buick Envision Premium II, represents the top trim level of Buick's medium-sized crossover and rings up less than $2K shy of the lofty $50,000 threshold. For that, buyers expect — and get — an effortlessly powerful turbocharged engine, rich leather interior, stately exterior styling and a full suite of safety tech features.
The made-in-China Envision slots between the tiny Buick Encore and the large, three-row Enclave. It aspires to compete with such models as the BMW X3, Acura RDX and Volvo XC60, and it's clearly a step up from its corporate cousin the Chevy Equinox.
* Model: 2019 Buick Envision AWD Premium II
* Exterior color: Ebony Twilight Metallic
* Interior color: Light neutral/Ebony
* Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
* Horsepower: 252
* Transmission: nine-speed automatic
* Fuel economy: 25 mpg highway, 20 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Integrity Buick GMC, 6025 International Drive
* Price (as tested): $48,330
Locally, Buicks are available at Integrity Buick GMC on International Drive. Late this week, the dealership had 16 Envisions in digital inventory.
WHAT IS IT?
The Buick Envision is a five-passenger compact crossover equipped with either a normally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a potent, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine making 252 horsepower.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
A base Envision starts at $34,000, although new Envisions are advertised locally for as little at $29,045. Our top-of-line Ebony Twilight tester has an MSRP of $48,330, although real-life buyers will probably pay thousands less. The government estimates annual fuel costs at $2,050.
WHAT WE LIKED?
Our log-book list of likes included gorgeous 19-inch aluminum wheels, heated and cooled front seats, beefy tires, a sculpted exterior and quiet operation.
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE?
Unconvincing fake wood trim on the dash, extra-firm seats and rearward-angled dash gauges.
WHY IT'S GOOD FOR CHATTANOOGA:
The all-wheel-drive option is nice of Chattanooga-area mountain-dwellers who may occasionally have to climb hills in the snow. The suspension is also absorbent for local pot-holed streets.
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We loved the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in our tester for its effortless acceleration. Impressive amounts of sound-deadening material leads to a quiet, isolated cabin. Driving dynamics are competent if not sporty. The cabin seems a little narrow though, for those who enjoy abundant shoulder and hip room.
The Buick Envision is a comfortable choice for small families and empty-nesters. Generous discounts add to the value quotient.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.