by Larry Lark, Herald Special Sections Writer
It was a stroke of luck to test drive the 2017 Buick Envision Premium AWD compact SUV the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Since I was on vacation, and running errands, it was possible to enjoy the Envision for the luxury ride it truly is, but also to check out the vehicles versatility. A trip to Lowe’s for a little fence repair allowed the rear seats to fold flat and reveal lots of cargo space.
The Envision is built in China for General Motors, and that’s where their vast majority of its sales are made. It competes with the Audi Q5 in China, so Americans will benefit from the upscale specs.
Envision is comfortable, capable and comes in Preferred, Essence and Premium trim levels, both in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. Mine was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged, DOHC, four-cylinder engine that may not be Autobahn material, but had more than enough power to put a smile on my face. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
This Buick seats five adults with ease, and mustered close to 22 miles per gallon in a combination of city/highway driving.
Envision looks the part of luxury, with a snappy exterior highlighted by a chrome waterfall grille and 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wheels. Inside, occupants benefit from leather, heated seats and plenty of leg, head and shoulder room.
The heated steering wheel was a nice feature during the cool, crisp mornings and climate control could be accessed by both front and rear seat passengers. The Envision included a navigation system with rear view camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB port and Bose premium sound system, which was enhanced by the extra-quiet cabin.
“Safety, quality and craftsmanship are designed into every Buick,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick Sales, Service and Marketing. “Earning top ratings from some of the industry’s most important safety organizations validates not only the excellence of the Envision, but further builds the Buick brand’s reputation as a leader in safety and quality, two attributes high on every shopper’s list.”
The Envision has earned a five-star overall vehicle score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — an accolade achieved by every Buick model rated for two consecutive model years.
Earlier this year, the Envision also earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) best possible rating. That rating was extended into the 2017 calendar year as the Envision, with optional front crash prevention and high intensity discharge (HID) headlights, was named a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
A “Driver Confidence Package” is available on Premium II and includes adaptive cruise control, surround vision and front automatic braking, forward-collision alert, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind-zone alert.
2017 BUICK ENVISION
BASE PRICE: $43,210
AS TESTED: $44,135
Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.