Buick Envista Test Drive.

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The new Buick Envista is a very nice-looking small crossover. It’s actually almost the exact same length as a Honda Civic but has a more imposing stature. It also looks about 20 years more modern than the Civic.

At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the “Copper Ice metallic” color ( a $495 option), but over a few days, it has grown on me. It’s not the case with the black wheels, which I usually hate. They just seem to ruin the whole thing…

The interior of the Invista is very modern and impressive.

The top part of the dashboard is covered in a great-looking soft material. And the whole interior, soft plastic or not, feels very solid and well-made. The super wide double screen looks pretty fantastic and luxurious. This is exactly what a modern screen setup should look like. It actually makes almost anything else I’ve seen look cheap, even in much more expensive cars. The infotainment system is pretty easy to figure out and much, much better than in the terrible GMC Canyon I drove earlier. There are also still physical controls for the headlights, sound, and climate.

Even the center console and shifter design look great and upscale. I was also surprised by the standard 6-speaker stereo in my test model. It sounded very nice and better than some optional systems in other cars. The center armrest is not adjustable, (as in most cars these days) and is positioned a bit high.

The back seat is very roomy and would make you think twice about getting a larger mid-sized crossover. There is pretty much all the room you need unless you are looking at a much larger 3-row SUV.

The cargo space is also excellent, and look! There’s even a small spare tire!

The 3-cylinder engine is very quiet and almost completely silent at idle. It only gets a bit rough when you really push it, but you don’t really need to as the small Turbo engine has plenty of power around town and on the freeway. The 6-speed automatic works great and is a huge improvement over most CVTs, like the terrible one in the Civic. The Envista has less power than the Civic turbo, but it’s hard to tell. Since the Civic’s CVT wastes a lot of that extra power anyway.

The steering is trying its best to have some feel, but it ends up a bit artificial. Although at least it’s not too light and numb. The suspension is a bit on the firm side. This could be due to the 19-inch wheels and sportier tires on my test car. A bit firm, but always comfortable and with a very solid feel.

A small thing I noticed was noisy windshield wipers. A small thing I happened to notice since it was raining pretty hard on my first day of driving. There is no wiper for the rear hatch window but I never had any visibility problem.

The Invista is rated at 28/32MPG. I was able to get 34/35 on the freeway but only about 24/25 around town. Which is actually a little bit less than what I got with the Buick Encore GX FWD about 3 years ago ( I will test-drive the updated version soon). MPG is where the CVT shines against a good old 6 speed auto…

Not only the Buick Envista is a great car, but it’s a great car at a great price.

The version I test-drove is the “sportier” ST model starting at around $24 000. There is even a cheaper Preferred version for $2000 less. And a more expensive Avenir trim for $4500 more. Although the ST I was driving was pretty loaded for $ 29,000. To put these prices in perspective, the cheapest Honda Civic is $2000 more than the cheapest Envista. And you’d have to pay $1000 more to get the Civic hatchback.

You can also load up a base Preferred model with tons of stuff and still stay under $27,000.

I personally think the Envista is probably the best car you can get for the price. It looks very nice, has a great interior with lots of room, and is a pleasure to drive around. All for less money than a Honda Civic. I will admit the Honda HR-V has a smoother ride, but it also has a super boring design inside and out. And again, costs more than the Envista.

I am also not sure where the slightly more expensive Encore GX fits in all this. It is very similar to the Envista for a bit more money, and its only advantage seems to be an AWD option.

This is really a car I highly recommend.

Conversation 9 comments

  1. Good and fair review. The comparison to the Civic is very eye-opening – amazing how GM was able to keep the cost down. I do disagree with Vince about the black wheels though. I’ll always prefer dark or black wheels so I don’t have to constantly clean off brake dust.

    I think GM hit it out of the park with the Envista and Trax. About the only real complaint is the lack of color on the interior. The material quality seems perfectly fine for the price of the car, but some more splashes of blue (or other) in the Envista would have helped to brighten up the interior even further. I am so sick of black-on-black-on-black interiors. It really doesn’t need more power and it really doesn’t need AWD, and I say that as a life-long New Englander.

  2. It’s a shame this isn’t a hybrid. Sounds like it would be a great car with great gas milage.

  3. I like this. And agree that the Avenir, with silver wheels, is the way to go. But I do wish it had an AWD hybrid option. GM could have had a real lead in hybrids by adapting the Ultium platform, battery packaging, etc… to the serial hybrid format.

  4. Hi Vince,
    Add yours to the long list of positive reviews for the Buick Envista. To me, these two statements you made stood out: “Not only is the Buick Envista a great car, but it’s a great car at a great price . . . I personally think the Envista is probably the best car you can get for the price.”

  5. I love everything about this car except the engine and the brake lights (incandescent and too low in the bumper….they look like they should be rear fog lights.

    I have a feeling as EVs become normalized (we still have a LONG way to go), we are going to see other model bench marking this for lower priced ICE vehicles. Psuedo crossovers such as this will be replacing more and more sedans in order for lineups to bring value customers into the show room. You want power? It’s going to be a premium for EVs and more expensive ICE specialty vehicles.

  6. It would be nice if GM offered a higher end performance package with a stronger engine and 4WD on this. It’s a nice looking car for $29K aand I have not come to trust GM on something like this.

  7. Great review – except for one important piece of information that is missing.

    Like the Chevy Trax, this vehicle is made by GM in Korea. That is why it offers so much value at the price.

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