Buick has been the brand known to sell in the landscape between luxury and the less expensive for a long time. Though Buick came to be known as a vehicle for retirees, a younger crowd willing to purchase a Buick despite the jokes about their age discovered that owning a Buick meant having a long-lasting vehicle with unparalleled comfort and quality. A younger crowd is now seeing Buick in a different light, and the manufacturer is shifting strategies. As we close in on the year 2021, Buick in North America will now only be known for its SUVs. All sedans have been wiped from the slate of North American sales and production, and SUVs like the new 2021 Buick Envision will be the only new vehicles buyers will find on dealer lots.
The entire SUV lineup from Buick will range from the compact Encore to the three-row Enclave, with the new 2021 Envision to slide into place between the Encore GX and the Enclave as a midsize crossover. The Enclave is only in its second generation already has car nuts singing its praises, and the 2021 Envision isn’t even for sale yet. Until recently, it wasn’t certain that the Envision would even be available for sale in the US due to issues with tariffs because the Envision is being built at the GM plant in China. Fortunately for the US car market, the Envision is expected to go on sale in the early months of 2021, now that it’s been cleared for shipping.
What’s New About the 2021 Envision?
The exterior design will immediately draw the eye, with a newly-designed body that rides lower and has a wider stance. GM makes an E2 platform shared by several other GM vehicles, which the 2021 Envision is adopting. The E2 platform gives the SUV a car-like height and width, which will make driving the Envision more like driving a sedan. Photos of the Envision show the definitive appearance as much lower, and at first glance, you might be fooled into thinking it’s a car instead of an SUV. In a world of SUVs that ride on truck platforms and have higher profiles, Buick is taking the Envision in the opposite direction with much excitement in car enthusiast news.
Other vehicles that share this same platform are well-known vehicles like the Cadillac XT4, the Chevy Malibu, and the now-defunct Buick LaCrosse. What’s notable about the E2 platform is that it is meant to decrease vehicle weight while offering the option of increasing the size. For the Envision, this means an exterior which still leans toward the crossover segment in appearance and offers the capabilities of a crossover, while being able to handle more like a car.
Though the 2021 Envision isn’t the first to employ Alexa on board, it’s the first to include it with the available 10-inch touchscreen with several built-in apps for the infotainment system. Android Auto, Apple Carplay, Fox Sports, Spotify, and Pandora are mentioned as apps to be included in the system. With the plethora of tech Buick has been making standard for even their lower-priced base vehicles in the lineup, buyers can most likely expect to be pleased with the amount of standard tech for the mid-range 2021 Envision, including wireless smartphone connectivity.
As with the technology becoming more inclusive, so will the standard safety features for the 2021 Envision. Buick’s safety suite of driver-assisted features is impressive and will be available on all trims. The entire list includes automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, rear park assist, safety alert seat, and an HD rear vision camera. Many of these features aren’t even found on the highest trims of other brands, or you may have to pay a premium to add them. Safety alert seats, for instance, are typically an expensive addition to the safety features on other vehicles, along with the HD rear vision camera.
Available safety features will take things a step further, with enhanced auto parking assist, HD surround vision, front park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, a head-up display, and a rear camera mirror. Each of these features undoubtedly aims to simplify the driving experience with fool-proof features built into the vehicle. Cars that park themselves, give you a complete 360-degree view around you, and splash your driving information onto the windshield so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road are quickly becoming the norm. Nevertheless, Buick is definitely appealing to the younger audience who deeply desire that technology, especially when it comes to personal content they can take with them everywhere they go.
Only One Engine
While the past Envision offered engine options, the 2021 Envision will come with only one engine: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder with a nine-speed automatic transmission. It will come standard with front-wheel drive, and all but the base trim will have the option of all-wheel drive. Horsepower for the four-cylinder is a not too shabby 237 with 258 lb-ft of torque.
In 2020, the Enclave and the Regal were the vehicles that offered the desirable Avenir trim, the most luxurious trim level offered by Buick. Now the 2021 Envision will be included in the vehicles to offer this trim, most recognized on the exterior for the refined appearance seen in the exclusive grille design and the pearl finish applied to the wheels. On the interior, plush leather seats, that wood-tone trim which is so Buick, and upscale tech available only on the Avenir will make this vehicle flush with comfort and convenience.
If the 2021 Envision gets the moonroof that the Enclave includes in the Avenir trim, this will be a vehicle hard to beat for the price. Though the luxury brands pride themselves on materials and quality, the Avenir trim for the Envision may give them a run for their money. Top this with a twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system exclusive to the Avenir, and drivers will have more control over the performance with rear wheels gaining more power. This is going to be a trim level hard to beat.
Four trim levels are expected for the upcoming 2021 Envision: base, Preferred, Essence, and Avenir. GM states that the trim levels will begin in pricing at about $34,000 for 2021, making this only slightly more expensive than the current pricing for the Envision, which begins at $33,500. Plenty of features will come standard with the base trim, including the tech and safety features already mentioned, so it remains to be seen what features will lure buyers into the middle trims. Having so many exclusive features available for the Avenir trim may make it a tough sell for those middle trim levels, though one option GM mentions in its literature is the option for larger wheels, more tech, and more safety options. Depending on the interest, these may draw buyers into the mid-range, but the siren call of ultimate luxury in the Avenir may be too strong to resist.
Projections for the Future
In 2017, the Envision was Buick’s third best-selling vehicle in the US market. With the new design already so highly anticipated, it could very well rise to a higher rank in sales if the quality of the vehicle is as good as it looks digitally. As always, anticipation ramps up the excitement for the newest designs, but the question remains about the final product until it can actually be driven and seen in person. Buick certainly has set the bar high for the 2021 Envision, particularly with the new exterior design and expected features to take this next generation into a younger vibe. When it finally arrives, that will be the true test of how much excitement the 2021 Envision deserves, but for now, we can certainly wait with bated breath while the new designs are run through manufacturing and delivered for all to see.