From the November 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
Grabbing hold of a thin-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel reads luxury in much the same way thick-rimmed wheels connote sportiness. Not many modern vehicles have thin-rimmed steering wheels, but the Buick Envista does, and it sends a subtle message that this inexpensive car’s mission is to provide luxury.
The Envista is Buick’s new entry-level model, slotting in just below the Encore GX. But you wouldn’t know it’s the least expensive Buick by looking at it. It’s nearly a foot longer than the Encore GX and rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, 4.1 inches longer than the Encore’s. The package results in 97 cubic feet of passenger volume. Rear-seat legroom is ample, and the flat floor gives a sense of spaciousness. The sloping roofline is a nod to current design trends—fortunately, rear-seat headroom isn’t affected, and there’s a big 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat—and lends the Envista a presence that belies the base model’s $23,495 price.
Even at $31,430 as tested, our top-trim Envista Avenir feels like a value. The structure is solid and never shudders in response to big suspension impacts. The ride is supple without any sign of floatiness. And it’s quiet, registering a luxury-car-like 68 decibels at 70 mph, although an occasional rattle from the hatch disrupted the peace. The driver faces two screens: an 8.0-inch digital cluster and an 11.0-inch touchscreen that responds reliably, enjoys an easy-to-decipher menu structure, and has phone-mirroring capability. There’s plenty of hard plastic inside, and the carpet is economy-car grade, but the swooping design on the instrument panel and attractive textures mask some of the cost cutting. Leather is standard on the Avenir, as are six-way power seats that easily adjust into an ideal driving position. Overall, it’s a pleasant place to sit.
Steering accuracy through that thin-rimmed wheel is excellent, and the effort and weighting are natural and better than some pricier SUVs from premium brands. There’s poise and confidence in how the Envista drives around town and on the freeway. This all sounds pretty great, right? At this price, there must be a catch. And there is: The Envista has just 137 horsepower.
All Envistas drive their front wheels with GM’s corporate turbo 1.2-liter, a three-cylinder job with 162 pound-feet of torque. Sound deadening and noise cancellation keep the little three’s ministrations largely hidden. Even at full whack, the engine never shouts louder than 71 decibels, which is good because silence is golden but also because this engine works very hard to accelerate the 3124-pound Envista to speeds beyond 50 mph. The powertrain’s low-end torque and short gearing bring up 50 mph in an acceptable 6.7 seconds. Going faster requires more patience. A run to 60 takes 9.3 seconds, and the quarter-mile is a sleepy 17.0 seconds at 80 mph.
Since we constantly had to spin that little engine to its redline through the first three of the six-speed’s gears to create meaningful acceleration, we fell well short of the EPA estimates of 28 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with our 25-mpg overall average. But we matched the 32-mpg figure on our 75-mph highway loop.
The Envista is poised, refined, and a good value starting at under $30,000. Aside from a few quibbles about interior materials, there’s nothing here that another 70 horsepower wouldn’t fix.
2024 Buick Envista Avenir
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $29,695/$31,430
Options: moonroof, $795; Advanced Safety package (rear cross-traffic alert, heated and power adjustable exterior mirrors, lane-change alert, adaptive cruise control, intermittent rain-sensing wipers), $795; rear park assist, $145
Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve inline-3, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 73 in3, 1199 cm3
Power: 137 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 162 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/torsion beam
Brakes, F/R: 11.8-in vented disc/11.3-in disc
Tires: Continental ProContact TX
245/45R-19 M+S TPC Spec 3178
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Length: 182.6 in
Width: 71.5 in
Height: 61.3 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 54/46 ft3
Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 42/21 ft3
Curb Weight: 3124 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 9.3 sec
1/4-Mile: 17.0 sec @ 80 mph
100 mph: 32.3 sec
110 mph: 45.5 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 10.1 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.1 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 112 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 183 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.83 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 25 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 32 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 420 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 30/28/32 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
Tony Quiroga is an 18-year-veteran Car and Driver editor, writer, and car reviewer and the 19th editor-in-chief for the magazine since its founding in 1955. He has subscribed to Car and Driver since age six. “Growing up, I read every issue of Car and Driver cover to cover, sometimes three or more times. It’s the place I wanted to work since I could read,” Quiroga says. He moved from Automobile Magazine to an associate editor position at Car and Driver in 2004. Over the years, he has held nearly every editorial position in print and digital, edited several special issues, and also helped produce C/D’s early YouTube efforts. He is also the longest-tenured test driver for Lightning Lap, having lapped Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course more than 2000 times over 12 years.
Source: Reviews - aranddriver.com