2024 Buick Envista – New Era


The subcompact crossover segment has always been popular, but coupe-like crossovers are next level. There has been no groundbreaking entry since they have become the go-to choice for small families, as it is not easy to think outside the box with a limited budget, a product supposed to be affordable and accessible to the masses. The new 2024 Buick Envista offers groundbreaking looks with not-so-ground-breaking drivetrain options and driving experience.

The Looks – Exterior & Interior

The Envista is a brand new nameplate for Buick, it also represents the new era for the brand. It is not easy to come up with a unique and attractive design language for a brand that has been appealing to older demographics, Buick has done a phenomenal job with the exterior design. There aren’t many sharp lines or edges around the vehicle, except the headlights. The front grille is a part of the front bumper, that gives the Envista a sportier look.

There is a nice balance of chrome accents in the front fascia and the rear end, and the ST (Sport Touring) trim added the sportier design details, including blacked-out accents and black rims, making it the most stylish subcompact crossover available. The most striking design feature is the sloping roofline, which gives the Envista similar looks to much more expensive European crossovers.

Even though it is technically a subcompact crossover, it is surprisingly roomy with a 106.3-inch wheelbase, making the Envista one of the larger entries in this segment. The Envista isn’t available in all-wheel-drive, so you have to choose the smaller Encore for an all-wheel-drive and slightly more powerful engine. The Envista has a unique but risky value proposition without the AWD option.

Just like the exterior, the interior design is completely new and most changes are positive. Even though digital real estate is much larger, there are still dedicated physical controls for almost every feature you use the most. Too many glossy black plastic trims are used in the center console and lower portion of the dashboard, but the build quality and material choices are decent for a premium entry, it is clearly not a luxury offering like some German entries.

There are two digital displays on the dashboard that look like one giant piece when they are turned off. On the left side, there is an 8″ digital gauge cluster that doesn’t have a lot of customizable options or layouts, for some reason the brand decided to keep the digital screens very plain, but they are also very easy to use, and all screens have a good resolution and screen quality.

In typical General Motors fashion, the seats are firmly padded and not aggressively bolstered, but they are surprisingly comfortable. There is no issue when it comes to the adjustment options, the front seats can accommodate large adults quite well. Our trim has 8-way adjustable power seats for the driver and manual seats for the front passenger.

The rear seats are surprisingly spacious, especially the overall legroom. You can easily put a front or even rear-facing child seat and don’t have to move the front passenger seat forward. The headroom is on the limited side for taller adults due to the roof design, but it is still quite impressive for a subcompact crossover. The rear seat passengers only get USB chargers with no air vents and no heated seats. The sporty roofline also means limited cargo capacity if you are planning to load larger items vertically. The Envista offers 20.7 cubic feet (586 litres) of cargo space behind the rear seats, which can be increased to 42 cubic feet (1189 litres) when you fold them down.

The Drive – Specs & Experience

The Envista comes only with one engine and transmission option, which is a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that pumps out 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The tiny “triple” engine has an angry character that wants to stay in the mid-range for optimum power delivery, and it falls on its face closer to the redline, which makes high-speed overtakings an adventure or a memorable event. It enjoys half-throttle applications and wants to be in the right RPM range for the best results.

I just wish the real-world fuel economy numbers were better, it would have been much easier to justify the downsizing trend. I was averaging around 9.5L/100 km with a lot of highway driving at normal speeds, which is higher than our expectations for a front wheel drive 1.2 turbo engine in a subcompact crossover. It is not terrible, but not significantly better than other entries with much larger engines and even all-wheel-drive.

The turbo engine has a decent low-end grunt as expected from most three-cylinder engines but there is a noticeable turbo lag at higher gears. The tiny 3-cylinder engine is paired with a traditional 6-speed torque-converted automatic transmission, which is surprisingly smooth but responsive when needed. The downshifts are surprisingly fast, the upshifts could have been quicker, but anything is better than a CVT, so no complaints here.

As mentioned before, there is only a front wheel drive option available, but it has a decent amount of ground clearance to go over any sort of obstacles or road debris in inclement weather. The engine is not powerful enough to cause any torque steering issues, it can put down the power quite well. The suspension is softly sprung, but compliant at the limit. Even though it comes with a torsion beam in the rear, the suspension tuning is well-adjusted even on uneven surfaces and small road cracks.

The most impressive part of the driving experience is the steering feeling and the weight, it feels so natural it almost felt like an old-school steering pump even though it has an electronic power steering. It is not a sporty vehicle by any means, but the chassis is communicative and responsive to the driver’s inputs.

The Verdict

The new Buick Envista is a great step forward and a radical change for a brand with an aging model lineup. It has one of the best looks, with some other entries like the Mazda CX-30, but with more usable interior space. The biggest problem is the segment it’s competing with, as it is almost impossible to differentiate and stand out as a premium brand when there must be so many cost-cutting measures to stay competitive, especially when there are other strong contenders like the updated Chevrolet Trax.

Engine1.2-litre turbocharged inline-3
Transmission & Drivetrain6-speed automatic & front wheel drive
Max power (combined)137 hp @ 5000 rpm
Max torque (combined)162 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
0-100 km/h9.9 sec
Curb Weight3124 lbs – 1417 kg
Fuel Economy (observed)25 MPG – 9.5 L/100 km
Price (starting from)$33,523 CAD

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