The Buick Envision first hit the road for 2016 and came built on an all-new global platform that had previously been used in other markets.
It’s midsize proportions and pricing positioned it between the compact Buick Encore and the larger Enclave. Competitors included the Lexus RX, Acura RDX, Lincoln MKX, Audi Q5, and BMW X3.
Buick’s premium suspension helped ensure precise and confidence-inspiring handling, while the latest twin-clutch all-wheel drive (AWD) system delivered lightning-fast response to changing surfaces for improved handling and control.
An aluminum hood, grille shutters, and a high-tensile body structure helped further optimize fuel economy with reduced weight, improved aerodynamics, and optimized engine cooling. Further, Buick’s various noise-reducing features like active noise cancellation technology made for a whisper-quiet ride.
Other features include a premium stereo system, tri-zone climate control, built-in Wi-Fi, a heated steering wheel and rear seats, a hands-free tailgate, and more. On the safety front, look for lane-keep assist, a self-parking system, a surround-view camera, and more.
A push towards fuel-efficient performance saw a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine under the Envision’s hood with 252 hp, leading to economical operation and pleasing throttle response. A 2.5L four-cylinder non-turbo engine was also available, with 197 hp.
Look for automatic transmissions all around, with six-speed or nine-speeds units depending on the year and model in question.
What Owners Like
Owners and reviewers alike say the Envision delivers strongly on key attributes including a comfortable ride, low noise levels, and an overall smooth and easy-driving character. Strong styling and design are highly rated as well, and the Envision is commonly noted for its generous array of unique feature content, including built-in subscription-based Wi-Fi and OnStar.
What Owners Dislike
Common complaints include the wish for some more upscale materials in some areas of the Envision’s cabin, and enthusiast drivers wish for a more precise feel from the Envision’s brakes and less softness and roll to its suspension. Though the Envision stands up nicely when comfort is a priority, sportier drivers have better choices for their dollar.
The Buick Envision is highly rated by experts and owners, and has been called the most reliable SUV in its class. Still, test-driving shoppers should still be aware of a few possible trouble areas and pre-purchase tips, which we’ll outline below.
Some Buick Envision owners have reported an irritating wobble or vibration that may be most apparent when accelerating from a stop while turning. Most have not. On your test drive, take note of the Envision’s performance when starting off from a stopped position and turning – like turning right at a stop-sign. If you notice a dull wobble or vibration through the vehicle’s body or steering in situations like this, the Envision you’re driving should be seen by a technician before you buy it.
In some cases, owners have had half-shafts replaced under warranty to fix this problem, which is commonly described as a wobble, shudder, or vibration that occurs between about 16 and 40 km/h. Regular tire pressure adjustments and regular attention to your Envision’s alignment and front end can help maintain a smooth and comfortable drive for the long haul, too. Here’s some more information.
Coax Out This Sound
On your test drive of a used Buick Envision, find an appropriate space to spend some time driving the vehicle in reverse. Quiet the cabin, open the rear windows, and begin backing the vehicle up. Ride the brakes lightly at first, ensuring the vehicle stays in motion. Release and apply the brakes lightly to moderately several times as you back up.
Listen closely for unwanted squeaking or squealing sounds, in particular from the rear of the vehicle. Some owners have reported irritating braking-system noises like this, which may be more common while reversing.
These sounds are good cause to have the braking system inspected by a professional before you buy. Some owners have reported the need to have the Envision’s rear brakes serviced and cleaned to eliminate annoying sounds, while others have replaced and upgraded rear brake pads to successfully eliminate this issue.
Note that vehicles that have been parked for extended periods may be at elevated risk of braking system trouble caused by moisture and corrosion as well. A braking system that feels or sounds strange could be concealing a pricey problem that may cost you money and compromise your safety. If you have any doubts, have the vehicle seen by a professional before you buy. Here’s some more information.
Some Buick Envision owners have reported sunroof trouble related to the motorized overhead sunshade and other system components. Most have not. Test-driving shoppers should fully work the Envision’s sunroof and overhead sunshade through all possible positions during their test drive. Be sure the glass panel is able to move freely through its entire range of motion several times. Do the same with the motorized sunshade.
Some owners have reported frustrating sunroof problems, while most have not. Complaints include sunroofs that get stuck in the open position, sunshades that fail to open or close fully, and non-responsive sunroof switches.
Out-of-warranty sunroof repairs can be costly and labour-intensive, so be on the lookout. In the event of sunroof trouble, some owners say that a bad sunroof motor is a likely culprit, though some problems may be repaired with adjustment or programming. Here’s some more information.
Maintenance Tips for Your New Envision
A few additional tips and tricks can help shoppers achieve a more trouble-free ownership experience from their second-hand Buick Envision. Start with the battery and charging system, confirming that the battery is healthy with a professional battery test. Most service centres can perform this inexpensive (sometimes free) test in a few moments. Replacing an aging battery can prevent a plethora of irritating problems across numerous vehicle systems. For this reason, making sure you start your ownership experience with a fresh, healthy battery is a great idea.
Second, familiarize yourself with the requirements of the Envision’s high-efficiency engine. To ensure the engine delivers the performance and efficiency it was designed for, owners are advised to ensure they use high-quality fuel at every fill, stick to the maintenance intervals outlined in their owner’s manual, and to only have oil changes performed using specified oil and filters, ideally sourced from a dealership to ensure warranty compliance.
Recalls for the Buick Envision can be found here. Dealers perform recall work free of charge to correct safety defects with vehicles. Some Envisions are affected by certain recalls, and others are not. To see which recalls (if any) affect the model you’re considering, click here.
IIHS: Top Safety Pick + (2018)
NHTSA: 5-Star (2017)