2023 Buick Envision Avenir

The Buick Evnsion Avenir is quite possibly the most surprising of GM's crossovers
The Buick Evnsion Avenir is quite possibly the most surprising of GM's crossovers

by Imran Salam | November 30, 2023

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In the world of luxury SUVs, Buick is usually overshadowed by most of its rivals and left off most consumers’ shopping lists. It’s odd, especially since Buick is one of the oldest nameplates, having been around since 1903. But Buick knows this, often leaning into the fact that the brand is “surprising” in its advertising. Remember those annoying, “Is that a Buick?!” commercials? Well, there’s a grain of truth to those commercials, because the 2023 Buick Envision Avenir will surprise you as much as it surprised me.

The first surprise comes from the Envision’s sheet metal. It’s downright attractive, and I’ll admit I didn’t know a Buick could look this good. It’s sleek and sporty, coming across as a lower, wider, and more upscale-looking Mazda CX-5 rather than most other GM crossovers. [Personally, I see a lot of CX-30 in the design. That’s a very good thing. —Ed.]

Our tester was finished in Moonstone Grey, and coupled with the clear tail lights and attractive front end, the whole thing comes together surprisingly well. I even liked the 20-inch wheels. The Envision is a genuinely good-looking SUV, and not just good looking “for a Buick.”  The exterior proportions also feel right; it’s not too big and not too small, but a Goldilocks-style just right.

Same goes for the interior; the Envision is roomy, luxurious, and familiar if you’ve been in any other GMs — you can see a lot of Chevy Equinox and Cadillac XT5 influences in here, but the Buick arguably offers the best blend of both worlds. The wood accents look premium and have a unique indented pattern, the quilted leather seats and contrast stitching look attractive, and the centre console is logically laid-out with a bright and sharp touchscreen slanted towards the driver, plus standalone physical climate controls nestled below.

It all looks clean and cohesive, but for a luxury crossover, I’d say the environment at night could benefit from more ambient lighting choices. Still, I appreciated the clean white lighting used throughout, especially the white needles that flanked a useful digital screen that’s well-integrated.

The interior even manages to avoid recycling the Fisher Price-looking controls from other GM products, plus everything is well-put-together, with minimal hard-touch surfaces and no squeaks or creaks to speak of. It’s a genuinely nice place to be, and the Envision Avenir easily competes with other brands in this space.

The Envision Avenir drives remarkably well, too, feeling composed no matter the environment. Yes, throw it into a tight-enough corner, and it leans and floats like an SUV in this class would, but it’s kept mostly in check and your confidence never wavers as you test its limits. Ride quality is well-balanced, with even the harshest of bumps being rounded off by the suspension. The suspension setup is adaptive, but I was hard-pressed to notice much variation between the different drive modes. I could also do with less assist in the power steering; it felt far too light in its default setting, but Sport added in some much-needed heft.  To be fair, Buick isn’t the only one out there with overly light steering.

The Envision is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder making a seemingly low 228 horsepower at 5,000 RPM and 258 pound-feet of torque between 1,500 and 4,000 RPM, running through a nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s well-calibrated overall, but the paddle shifters could be more responsive to inputs. But I was still surprised — despite the low-ish power numbers, the Envision felt punchy, and merging and overtaking on the highway were non-issues. It delivers its power smoothly and quietly as well. Fuel economy was solid overall, averaging a combined 9.9 L/100 kilometres during the week.

 

In terms of tech, the Envision Avenir is par for the course in this segment. The 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen is great, especially with wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto at the ready. I wasn’t a big fan of the Bose audio system — it sounded compressed as most Bose systems tend to — but the overall UI of the infotainment is great. GM really nailed it; the Envision’s infotainment is responsive, the graphics are crisp, and very intuitive. Also included is the now common suite of active safety features like radar cruise control and automatic emergency braking. Oddly enough, our Avenir wasn’t equipped with blind-spot monitoring; blame the supply chain issues that, evidently, are still an issue.

Despite a few minor shortcomings, the Envision Avenir represents great value in the entry-level luxury crossover segment. Priced at $50,979 as-tested, it offers significant value in this highly competitive space, and is GM’s best effort among its stablemates. As silly as those commercials were, the 2023 Buick Envision Avenir truly had us saying, “is that a Buick?!” If you’re in the market for a compact luxury crossover you shouldn’t overlook the Envision Avenir.

See Also

First Drive: 2024 Buick Encore GX

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC

2023 BMW X1 xDrive28i

Vehicle Specs
Segment
Compact luxury crossover
Engine Size
2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower (at RPM)
228 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.)
258 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,000 rpm
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
10.5/8.2/9.5
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
9.9
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
$39,979
As-Tested Price (CAD)
$50,979
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About Imran Salam

Staff Writer

Imran is a true enthusiast who you'll find at shows, local meets, Sunday drives or the track. He appreciates the variety the car industry has to offer, having owned over a dozen cars from different manufacturers. Imran is grateful to own one of his childhood poster cars and enjoys inspiring the next generation. When Imran is not behind wheel he is found playing basketball or spending time with family.

Current Toys: '13 Boxster S 6MT, '24 Integra Type S, '08 328xi

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