Pros: Compelling design; ample space for the segment; quiet and refined driving experience; punchy and efficient engine; well-equipped; low price
Cons: All-wheel drive not available; armrests are a bit hard
The 2024 Buick Envista is one of the best, most competitive and most relevant cars to come out of General Motors in a long time. It is wildly impressive and truly surprising. We had multiple people guess the Copper Ice test car pictured above cost $60,000 or even $80,000, and we agree that it certainly looks expensive. And yet, that Sport Touring test car stickers for $29,070 and isn’t even the top-of-the-line. That puts it in the heart of the subcompact SUV segment, but it boasts one of the biggest back seats and cargo areas in that segment. You certainly wouldn’t guess that by looking at its rakish roofline. Its interior looks almost as good as the exterior, and provides lots of features for the money, including tech that looks great and is easy to use. It is rare for a car to be both a sensible choice and an emotional one, but the Envista is just that.
So, how can the Envista be such a bargain in these inflationary times? Being built in Korea rather than by North American union members probably helps. Another key reason, though, is Buick cutting costs in smart areas. The engine is not powerful and its 0-60-mph time in the mid-9-second range is on the slow side, but when behind the wheel, the little turbocharged three-cylinder is punchy around town, its pleasingly snarl-like noise is nicely quelled by ample sound deadening, and its six-speed automatic transmission (perhaps a cost savings itself) does its job without fuss unlike the complicated transmissions of most rivals. The interior also sees the sort of hard plastics indicative of its segment, but the plastics don’t look cheap and are mostly in places where your hands and elbows don’t touch.
The lack of all-wheel drive might be a dealbreaker for some, but otherwise, its cons are either justified by the low price or covered up by thoughtful design and engineering. That’s a mark of the best inexpensive cars. The new Buick Envista is one of them.
What's new for 2024?
The Envista is an all-new model for 2024.
What are the Envista interior and in-car technology like?
There is lots of hard plastic inside the Envista, most notably on the doors. If that bothers you, it’ll probably be hard to find anything new at this price point. Otherwise, the Envista’s cabin is an attractive and user-friendly space. The Sport Touring’s leatherette seating (pictured) or the Avenir’s leather certainly maximize the Envista’s “It costs how much?” wow factor, though, especially with their dash-top pleather trim and contrast stitching.
We appreciate that Buick kept things simple in key places, such as its traditional shifter and physical buttons/knobs for the climate controls. Yet, the cabin’s showpiece is clearly the pair of displays encased in one curved housing. It looks expensive, and the screen graphics back it up. The all-digital instruments in particular are classy in appearance and simply provide the information you need (although the trip computer info being in the touchscreen is bound to confuse some at first). The 11-inch touchscreen is larger than most in the segment and is powered by a less feature-rich version of GM’s Android-based infotainment system. It doesn’t do that much, but the radio controls look good and are well laid out, the menu icons remain docked on the left side of the screen at all times, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Wireless charging is available on all trims.
How big is the Envista?
The Envista has roughly the same length and wheelbase as a Honda CR-V, but it’s ultimately in the next segment down (subcompact) because its rakish roofline significantly diminishes its total interior volume, especially in terms of cargo. Importantly, its price tag is more in line with subcompacts.
In practice, this means it has an abundance of rear seat legroom for the segment. A 6-foot-3 person was able to still fit back there with the driver seat set for himself, while there was plenty of room for the passenger seat to be scooted up out of the reach of a kicking toddler’s shoes. Headroom definitely is less than boxy compact SUVs, but the hair of that same 6-foot-3 person wasn’t grazing the roof.
Cargo space does indeed suffer because of the roofline. A rigid cargo cover and a lack of a dual-level cargo floor (as most competitors offer) do hamper its space and versatility as well. Nevertheless, we found that once you chuck that cargo cover, the Envista was better able to carry our standard allotment of cargo test suitcases than everything in its segment save the Bronco Sport, VW Taos and Kia Seltos (in that order). Pretty great for something that looks so sleek.
What are the Envista fuel economy and performance specs?
Every Envista has the same powertrain, and there are no options. A 1.2-liter turbocharged inline-three sends 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is mandatory; all-wheel drive is not an option.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 28 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. We were seeing similar fuel economy during our 300-plus miles behind the wheel. This is better fuel economy than most in the segment, although admittedly not by a lot.
What's the Envista like to drive?
Look at the above specs. They sound lame, right? Three cylinders? 137 horsepower? Six-speed automatic? We didn’t even mention that the 0-60-mph sprint is somewhere in the 9s, making it one of the slowest cars in the segment and on the road, period. The thing is, you’d never know it by driving it. This is a good powertrain that’s been thoughtfully applied to this car to simultaneously assure a low price, good fuel economy and elevated refinement.
It starts with the engine itself. Forget the horsepower – those 162 pound-feet of torque come on early at 2,500 rpm, ensuring a punchy power delivery around town and when jumping into a faster lane of traffic. That six-speed automatic may sound antiquated, but it’s quick to respond and is more likely to find itself in the right gear (unlike eight-, nine- or 10-speed units), doesn’t stutter to engage (unlike a DCT) and doesn’t depressingly drone (unlike a CVT). Meanwhile, it still manages 30 mpg combined. Then there’s the ample sound deadening that reduces whatever racket that little triple-cylinder makes down to a pleasant muffled snarl. Basically, this car doesn’t feel slow and it sounds refined.
The accolades don’t stop there. We logged plenty of highway time and came away thoroughly impressed by the quiet noise levels, comfortable and well-composed ride, just-right steering effort, and comfortable driver seat. Our Sport Touring test car did come with the optional Watts linkage rear suspension upgrade that comes standard on the Avenir trim and is unavailable on the base Preferred. We have not tested the base suspension, so we don’t know just how much more comfortable and composed the upgrade makes the Envista, but given the car’s strong overall value, seeking a so-upgraded trim level seems like a good idea.
What other Buick Envista reviews can I read?
A more complete take on what it's like to drive the Envista, plus details on its design and engineering.
A deep dive into the Envista's cargo area reveals it's far more spacious than we were expecting given its modest 20.7-cubic-foot volume spec.
What is the 2024 Envista price and where is it made?
The Envista is built in Bupyeong Gu, South Korea. Pricing starts at $23,495, including the $1,095 destination charge. That puts it right in the heart of the subcompact SUV segment, and we’d say if you’re simply prioritizing max passenger space in this price range, the base Envista Preferred would be a good choice.
The Sport Touring ($25,690) gets sharper looks and an upgraded interior with leatherette upholstery, plus access to the Experience Buick package that adds the Watts link suspension upgrade and 19-inch wheels. Otherwise, the same worthwhile Convenience package upgrades are available on both Preferred and Sport Touring: the Convenience I package (a power driver seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, proximity entry, remote ignition), the Convenience II package (power liftgate, auto wipers, wireless phone charging).
All that optional content is standard on the Avenir pictured below ($29,695), which also gains leather upholstery, a rear center armrest, and various design/ambiance upgrades. Every Envista is available with the same package of driver assistance tech features described in the section below.
What are the Envista safety ratings and driver assistance features?
The Envista had not been crash-tested by a third party at the time of this writing.
Every 2024 Envista comes standard with forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and front pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and automatic headlights. The Advanced Safety package available on all trims adds blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic warning and adaptive cruise control.
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