After a chance to catch our breath from driving the 2018 Regal GS, Buick provided a cool-down drive opportunity with the refreshed 2019 Envision crossover SUV, which they debuted literally the evening prior. If you’ve been watching this space, you’ve likely read once or twice about the coming changes to the Buick Envision for the 2019 model year, but the internet as a whole has been quiet ahead of the announcement. Because of the relative silence, Buick was able to stealthily reveal the 2019 Envision to media, and have them drive it immediately the next day. It’s extremely uncommon for this sort of thing to happen, but we’re glad to bear witness.
The changes for 2019 Buick Envision are more than just visual. Armed with a lower MSRP, 35 lb-ft more torque from the 2.0T LTG (now 252 hp and 295 lb-ft), a fantastic 9-speed automatic, more brake boosting, defeatable adaptive cruise control, a tire fill alert, LED lighting, optional 19-inch wheels, and a new stop/start defeat button, the 2019 Buick Envision re-strategizes for a stronger swing at the most competitive segment in the US market right now. And thus, one of the most important segments for Buick. Augmenting the interior highlights is a new cabin ionizer borrowed from the more premium Enclave, a more advanced mirror camera, and a more sophisticated wireless charger for the latest smartphones. It’s still made in China.
More styling substance on the outside should help attract new buyers into the segment, as well as keep those interested in upgrading from their smaller Encore crossovers, so long as they’re willing to make the price jump. A main component in the marketing strategy for the 2019 Envision is to keep current Buick customers in the fold, and along with the welcome updates, strong JD Power IQS rankings and other various quality awards should add wind to Buick’s sails. In the case of the U.S. market, Buick is now an 81% mix of SUV-crossovers. The Encore, Buick’s (aging) entry model, makes up 40 percent of total Buick sales, while the Envision makes up around 19 percent, according to sales data. For a more lucrative mix, it’s important that the 2019 Envision picks up momentum.
With that said, the 2019 Buick Envision has a few headwinds. To be completely frank, it’s hard to overlook what can be a $44,000+ sticker price on a crossover that has basically every touchable interior surface made of plastic, except the leather seats. Especially with the GMC Terrain Denali being sold under the same roof, which at least has brushed aluminum finishes. But being that it’s such a hot SUV market, that may ultimately not matter. Even still, Buick officials admit that there continues to be an overall lack of awareness for the vehicle. That could be either on purpose, in an effort to avoid attention that the Envision is built in China, or simply because there haven’t been any ads about it. We fully expect Buick to finally throw some marketing money for the refreshed Envision later this year, however.
The 2.0L turbo provides perfectly proportionate punches in the 2019 Envision, and compared to the naturally aspirated 2.5L engine, the turbo is far and away the motor to get. The nine-speed trans keeps the low-end torque present, which makes for appropriate passing on the highway just as easy as shooting the gap at low speeds. Most buyers in this space will find its performance to be completely on point.
When it comes to color and trim, we’ve seen signs of greatness from Buick in their flagship models, such as the LaCrosse and Enclave, and we like to think it’s possible for less expensive but arguably more important models like the Envision, and even the new Regal, to provide the same. Maybe Buick is leaving room for an Envision Avenir, but don’t expect one this year.
Looking beyond the choice of interior decor in the 2019 Buick Envision, it’s plenty roomy. That goes for taller types breaching six feet, and the wider types that wouldn’t be caught dead in the middle seat of an airplane. That goes for the second row, as well. The ride is also comfort-forward, as it should be, with most road sensations being buffered right out. Anybody cross-shopping this Buick with a Lincoln MKC or Acura RDX should appreciate that. Those that appreciate the tech suites, the 2019 Envision has everything from Onstar 4G LTE WiFi, to the gamification of Buick Smart Driver’s scoring system. All signs point to the 2019 Buick Envision being the right vehicle, for the right time.