Try and color outside the lines. Go for it, just try. If you’re driving an Envision by Buick you have no choice but to play a straight bat, and receive a slap on the wrist for even trying to do otherwise. One of the Envision’s features that jumped out as our favorite was its lane keep assist and fairly angry-sounding warnings if we got too close to any other vehicle. The lane keep assist stiffens the steering wheel should you try to switch lanes without indicating, invaluable on the countryside’s long and winding roads.
The rear cross traffic and side blind spot alerts caught us off-guard to begin with and could become tiresome in city traffic where no one respects personal space. But we decided this was good training. Very rapidly, we were coached out of tailgating and into maintaining a smooth enough speed to keep other cars off our bumpers, and drivers who do not check their blind spots before changing lanes can use the warning light on the wing mirror to get rid of that habit. In the same way that seatbelt alarms teach a car’s pet human to use safety measures, the Envision’s behavioral training forces its owner to drive better. We felt protected and driving the Envision is so easy if you trust it to guide you. The era of driverless cars is within sight.
The 2016 update was just launched mid-2016 in the US, and only the CXL version reached Mexico. We took the inline 4-cylinder, 2L direct injection system with turbocharger out the city to see if the specs were up to standard. It gets up to 252hp at 5500rpm and torque of 260lb-ft from the automotive 6-speed transmission. This SUV got a thorough testing, along smooth toll roads and off-roading in the search of remote vineyards and throughout the whole experience, neither driver nor passenger felt woozy or sloshed around. The HiPer Strut front suspension was spot on.
The 2016 version boasts Buick’s first active Twin Clutch AWD system. Torque by nature is lazy and disobedient so distributing torque across four wheels must be done right. Twin clutches manage rapid and partial engagement and so avoid the binding that is common to four-wheel drive vehicles. Now that AWD is becoming more than just an off-road traction feature, Buick is joining other accelerating and cornering masters to enter the performance vehicle section known for this tech.
Its engine seamlessly shuts down when the Envision comes to a stop at a traffic light and automatically restarts when the driver releases the brake. Built on compact vehicle architecture similar to those in the Opel and Chevrolet Volt, the crossover follows the accelerating trend toward SUVs sitting on car powertrains, keeping them lighter. This is reflected in a slightly more affordable unit, and in fuel-efficiency at 9.4L/km according to Buick. Mexico Automotive Review’s testing team got quite a bit less, probably due to lots of accelerating hard enough to check the anti-lock brakes (made less jerky by the electronic brake force distribution, notably). The Envision comes with a price tag of MX$647,900 and 3 years’ guarantee.
The designer is unsurprisingly proud of his creation. “Everywhere you touch is a stitched, soft surface. Everything you touch is designed for intuitive, effortless functionality,” says Bryan Nesbitt, Global Executive Director of Buick Design. We would agree with this, the interior, down to the smallest details on buttons and handles, are tactfully designed to impose as little as possible while being clear to use. The panoramic moonroof is to be expected on a model of this level of luxury, but touches such as the tri-zone automatic climate control, ventilated and heating front seats, endless adjustments for seating position and memory function to adjust to three different drivers add to the sense of easy adaptability and flexibility.
Grasping at criticisms to not be accused of being biased, we were neither fans of the wood effect across the dash, nor the simple fact that the wing-mirrors don’t tuck away electrically. The Bluetooth connection was also jumpy which made using a cellphone for music more complicated than would be ideal. The audio system, while a fantastic sound with Bose speakers, digitally required manual input to reconnect each time it was turned on and if you switched the connection from USB to Bluetooth. The exterior rear-end could also be improved if it were more creatively designed but the almond headlights and prominent grille are discrete enough not to be conspicuous, while remaining strikingly emulative of the Buick brand.
Shaking their rep as ‘Dad cars,’ Buick has taken on an image reinvention with the company’s first Super Bowl commercial but probably obtained limited success simply due to their price tags. Perhaps this is not as bad as being pigeonholed with their average buyer being aged 63, at least one demographic will always aspire to buy their vehicles. Buick might be better worrying less about being considered Dad cars, or Grandad cars, as time has given drivers the opportunity to develop an acquired taste. This particular model felt young and responsive, was sporty to drive but had ample storage to stash things away. Most importantly for many, over a meter of legroom in the front seats make it perfect for road trips or long-distance commuters, including tall ones with lower back problems.