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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A grey 2021 Buick Envision is parked in front of a lake at sunset after winning the 2021 Buick Envision vs 2020 Buick Envision comparison.

An SUV Transformed: The All-New 2021 Buick Envision

The 2020 Buick Envision is a standalone compact SUV. Why? It has everything you want, everything you need, plus a few extras thrown in for good measure. Just when we thought Buick couldn’t improve on the Envision, the company decided to entirely redesign it for 2021. This has us wondering, if we compare the 2021 Buick Envision vs 2020 Buick Envision, are we really going to see a lot of changes? Sometimes an automaker will give a model some tweaks and slide in some refreshed features. Is this new 2021 Envision an example of that or something more substantial?

This cute little 2020 Envision five-passenger compact SUV has a lot of luxury packed inside its 108.3-inch wheelbase, justifying the $33,500 starting MSRP and our opinion that it’s loaded with everything you’ll ever want or need. What about the 2021 Envision? Lots of rumors are swirling about this brand new Envision, including confirmation that it’s a massive redesign. Expect to see big differences between the 2020 and 2021 models, from exterior styling to technology and even interior appointments.

What’s the best news? You can’t lose, whether you choose a 2020 Envision or hold out for the newer version. After all, Buick stands behind its vehicles, with over 100 years of manufacturing luxury cars, trucks, and SUVs for discerning buyers. The evolution of the Envision represents the best in Buick’s engineering prowess and the company’s commitment to delivering the latest technological advancements in safety, infotainment, and performance. With that in mind, let’s take a look at these two model years to see where the differences lie and build a case for whether holding out for a 2021 is the best way to go.

Trims and Pricing

A red 2020 Buick Envision is parked in front of a city building.

The 2020 Buick Envision lineup is thoughtfully mapped out, with five available trims that tell a logical story of price progression relative to added equipment. The base Envision 1SV starts at $33,500, and you’re going to find it decently equipped with some upscale features, including push-button start and a hands-free power liftgate. It also includes Buick’s QuietTuning technology, which uses sound dampening and canceling technology inside the cabin to keep the ride quiet and smooth.

The Envision Preferred starts at $33,500 and gives buyers the option of adding all-wheel drive, which isn’t available on the 1SV. Additional option packages are available for the Preferred, such as the Active Package that adds a trailer hitch for 1,500 lbs of trailering ability. Next up, the Essence starts at $35,800 and throws a whole host of driver-assist technology into the mix, including lane change alert with side blind zone alert and a rear cross-traffic alert system, as well as interior luxury appointments like standard perforated leather-appointed seating, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated rear outboard seating.

Stepping up to the 2020 Envision Premium, you’re going to find that list of standard luxury equipment getting a lot longer. This Envision has an MSRP of $40,700. Starting with the exterior, the LED headlights give the front-end a sleek, modern look that sets the Premium apart from less expensive trims. On the inside, a Bose Premium Audio System with seven speakers and a built-in amplifier puts out a concert-grade sound, while the in-vehicle air ionizer keeps the cabin air fresh and healthy. But the biggest upgrade is under the hood – a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine replaces the standard 2.5-liter engine, and an enhanced twin-clutch all-wheel drive system is standard.

Rounding out the 2020 trim lineup is the top-end Premium II. At $43,600, the Premium II makes tons of additional driver assist systems available in the optional Driver Confidence Package, adds a head up display, a wireless smartphone charger, and Buick’s built-in navigation system. You’ll also get cooled seats, which are surprisingly refreshing on a hot summer day.

The 2021 Envision is expected to have a slimmed-down four trim levels, with the base trim being rumored to start at around $34,000. The other three trims will likely be the Preferred, the Essence, and the Avenir. This lines up with the trim pattern found on other recent models in the Buick lineup. We also hear that there may be a Sport Touring Edition and that overall, the 2021 Envision’s exterior will be more boldly styled than its predecessor.

Performance

A grey 2021 Buick Envision is shown from the rear in front of a lake and sunset.

We know that the 2021 Buick Envision is set to compete against luxury SUVs from Acura and Infiniti. As such, power and performance will be front-and-center. It’s rumored that the 2021 Envision will be powered by a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, along with a nine-speed transmission. We know from the previous model year that this motor offers great performance numbers and can only assume that Buick will continue to put an emphasis on this for 2021.

The 2020 Envision offers two engines: the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The former puts out 197 hp and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the latter delivers a much more thrilling 252 hp. Using that as a guide, it’s likely that the new Envision will meet or (hopefully) exceed that 252 hp output. The current 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is seriously fuel-efficient. For 2020, Envisions equipped with the turbo engine saw 20 MPG city and 25 MPG highway.

The 2020 Envision offers all-wheel drive on all but the base trim level. At the high end of the trim lineup, an enhanced all-wheel-drive system with a twin-clutch rear differential improves the ride by shifting power between the individual rear wheels. This means that if one wheel loses traction, the other wheel will keep spinning, increasing traction in slippery conditions. These added features come at a price, but when compared with formidable competitors like Audi, it’s important for the Envision to offer like-for-like, and the 2021 Envision will likely follow a similar model.

Technology

From safety systems to infotainment and connectivity, technology is woven into every 2020 Buick Envision. As with the other features, the more you spend, the more you get. For example, Buick’s coveted Driver Confidence Package is available on the top-of-the-line Premium II only. With this option, you’ll get enhanced automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control that slows down and speeds up based on traffic patterns, and a handy surround vision camera setup. We’re not sure which driver-assist systems will be standard on the 2021 Envision, but we’re hoping Buick makes more of them available across the entire model lineup.

We know the 2020 Envision offers a plethora of technology features, but again buyers won’t be treated to them unless they pay more. For example, navigation is only available on the Premium II, although it is standard. Same with the wireless smartphone charger, which we appreciate but think it should show up as an option earlier in the trim lineup. We haven’t heard too many verifiable rumors about tech on the 2021 Envision, but we expect an enhanced 10-inch infotainment touchscreen embedded into a more stylish, modern dash display. That touchscreen should include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and maybe even Amazon Alexa compatibility.

We’re going to wager that the 2021 Buick Envision will blow the doors off its 2020 predecessor. According to an executive at Buick Global, this new 2021 Envision will be lower and wider, evoking the best elements of a traditional car while staying true to the brand’s intention to design a complete line of luxury SUVs. In short, we think the 2021 Envision will compete well against its European and Japanese opponents. The goal is good marketing, so the Envision ends up on more buyers’ consideration lists. Our vote based on what we’ve heard? A solid yes.

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