2024 Buick Envista Review and Test Drive

Buick's new entry-level SUV coupe exceeds expectations.

Front-three-quarter view of an orange 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

QuickTakes:

Long-serving as General Motors' premium brand — nicer than Chevrolet but not as luxe as Cadillac — Buick has struggled in recent years with an identity problem. The brand survived the Great Recession and GM's subsequent government bailout only because Buick was popular in China.

Afterward, Buick showrooms carried rebadged versions of Opel products, such as the Cascada convertible and Regal sportback and wagon, in addition to larger models like the Buick LaCrosse sedan and Enclave SUV. As recently as 2017, Buick offered seven different nameplates across convertible, sedan, SUV, and wagon body styles. There was something for just about everyone in a Buick showroom.

Then, GM sold Opel, cutting off a source of products to Buick.

The new 2024 Envista grows the shriveled Buick lineup from three to four SUVs this year. It's the entry-level model, tucking under the similarly small Encore GX. With undeniably stylish SUV coupe looks showcasing the latest Buick design language, the Envista appears more expensive than it is. It also comes with an impressive technology stack that helps convince you of its value.

Will it succeed, like the original small Encore — the Opel Mokka — did a decade ago? It certainly deserves to. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it is.

Rear-three-quarter view of an orange 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

2024 Buick Envista Prices Spell Value

The 2024 Buick Envista comes in Preferred, Sport Touring, and Avenir trim levels, and base prices range from the mid-$20,000s to the low $30,000s, including the destination charge to ship the SUV from the Bupyeong, Korea, factory that builds it to your local dealership.

For this Envista review, I test-drove the Sport Touring trim in Southern California. Highlights from the optional equipment list included the Convenience Package I, Convenience Package II, Advanced Safety Package, and Experience Buick Package. Those options and the extra-cost Copper Ice paint brought the test vehicle's manufacturer's suggested retail price to $29,070, including the $1,095 destination charge. Buick provided the vehicle for this Envista review.

Front seats and dashboard of a 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

The 2024 Envista Is an SUV Coupe That Actually Looks Good

Buick doesn't say so, but the Envista is an SUV coupe. With its fast roofline and windowless rear roof pillars, it has the same silhouette as any Audi, BMW, or Mercedes with a similar style. Getting an SUV coupe's proportions right is challenging, but Buick nailed it, and the Envista is genuinely appealing from any angle. Also, the Envista looks far more expensive than the number on the window sticker.

That impression lasts until you open the driver's door. The Envista's interior is inviting, but the plastic puts the SUV's price into perspective. Still, considering what this Buick offers for less than $30,000, you can easily accept the hard, glossy panels in exchange for the value it otherwise delivers.

Drivers face an 8.0-inch digital gauge panel and an 11.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system in an artfully designed housing. Gloss-black plastic trim and accents resembling polished aluminum decorate the cabin, and traditional automatic climate-control knobs and buttons live on the dashboard. Buick equips the Envista with a volume knob, but I prefer to use the clever stereo volume and radio tuning buttons hidden on the backs of the steering wheel spokes.

The rear seats of a 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

Unexpected Comfort for Everyone Aboard

My test car had several comfort-related options, including an eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The Envista Sport Touring has artificial leather with blue contrast stitching, and it can feel sticky, especially on warmer days. The driver's seat is comfortable, though, and finding a proper driving position behind the thick-rimmed, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel is easy.

Unexpectedly, I found the Envista's back seat roomy. I'm 6 feet tall and had enough legroom and headroom for longer trips. The seat feels lower than I prefer, air-conditioning vents are missing, and the test vehicle did not have a center armrest. Still, four adults fit in without a problem.

The cargo area of an orange 2024 Buick Envista holding a suitcaseChristian Wardlaw

Decent Utility Despite SUV Coupe Attributes

In addition to comfort, the Envista offers just enough thoughtful storage space for everyone aboard. Unfortunately, it lacks the helpful fold-flat front passenger seat you'll find in the next SUV on the Buick model menu, the Encore GX.

The Envista offers an available power liftgate with programmable height settings. Open it, and you'll find 20.7 cubic-feet of illuminated cargo space, a tray to the left to secure items, and unfinished storage space under the floor around the spare tire. Maximum cargo space with the back seat folded down measures 42 cu-ft.

The infotainment screen of a 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

2024 Buick Envista Infotainment System Review: No fuss, No muss

Every new Envista has an 11-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and while it is relatively basic, it provides everything you need for a satisfying user experience. In addition to Bluetooth, it has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a six-speaker audio system that produces surprisingly enjoyable sound quality.

Standard equipment includes a three-year complimentary subscription to Remote Access connected services. In addition, with a paid data plan, you can access a Wi-Fi hot spot using the infotainment system. Upgrade to the Envista Avenir, and you'll get a complimentary three-year subscription to Premium Plan connected services. Highlights include automatic collision notification, SOS emergency calling, remote engine starting, and a complimentary Wi-Fi data plan.

I had no trouble pairing my iPhone to the Envista's Bluetooth or running Apple CarPlay. Siri responded to commands as I've come to expect, and touch-sensing icons on the left side of the display return you to the native environment when necessary. I found the tiny nub of a volume knob hard to grasp, but with the previously mentioned volume and tuning buttons on the backs of the steering-wheel spokes, that's a non-issue.

Poor Rear Visibility Demands Camera-Based Assistance Options

The gauge cluster of a 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

In addition to the touchscreen infotainment system, the Envista has an 8.0-inch digital instrumentation panel. It's small and can wash out in direct sunlight but is otherwise impressive. A wireless smartphone charger, remote engine starting, and rain-sensing wipers are also available.

Visibility through the Envista's back window is poor, and Buick doesn't offer a camera-based rearview mirror, a surround-view camera, rear parking sensors, or a rear automatic braking system for this SUV. Instead, you get a standard high-definition reversing camera. Blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic alert system are options.

The Envista is an entry-level model, but its drivers would likely appreciate an expanded list of standard safety features.

Detail view of cruise control buttons on the steering wheel of a 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

2024 Buick Envista Safety Features: Refined Enough to Regularly Use

Buick equips the 2024 Envista with a standard Buick Driver Confidence package. It equips the SUV with a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking that works at speeds under 50 mph, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Other standard safety features include a remote panic alarm, a rear-seat reminder system, a Buckle to Drive feature that prevents driving the Envista until everyone buckles up, and Teen Driver technology. With Teen Driver, parents can obtain report cards detailing their child's use of the SUV.

Upgrades include subscribing to a Premium Plan of connected services for automatic collision notification, SOS emergency calling, and more. You can also pay extra for blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. A lane-centering assist is unavailable.

That's fine because that technology is usually a source of many complaints. During my evaluation, the adaptive cruise control slowed the Envista smoothly and quickly recognized when slower traffic ahead was no longer an obstacle. The lane-keeping assist worked with subtlety and refinement instead of sudden sharpness, encouraging the system's continued use.

During a week of driving, the Envista produced one false lane-departure warning and responded to some parked cars on the shoulder of a bend in the road with minor braking. Otherwise, I found it remarkably well-behaved.

The engine bay of an orange 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

Back to the Basics

Buick installs a 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine in the 2024 Envista. It makes 137 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 162 pound-feet of torque from 2,500 to 4,000 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission powers the front wheels; all-wheel drive is unavailable.

The Envista uses a MacPherson strut front suspension. In the back, a solid-axle rear suspension does its best to isolate bumps and holes in the road. Avenir trim adds a Watts Link rear suspension to improve the ride and handling (optional with the Sport Touring trim).

With Preferred trim, the Envista has 17-inch aluminum wheels. The Sport Touring gets 18-inch black wheels with an option for 19s, as seen on the test vehicle. Avenir trim includes 19-inch wheels with a lustrous polished finish.

Front-right-quarter view of a 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

A Sophisticated Small SUV With Unsophisticated Driving Dynamics

Since the Envista's base curb weight is barely over 3,000 pounds, the small engine does a decent job motivating the SUV. The main problem is how the transmission allows engine revs to dip below the torque curve, leaving the Envista without any thrust after rounding a city corner or changing lanes to pass slower or turning vehicles.

In addition, though the ST test vehicle had the Watts Link suspension upgrade, the ride remained unrefined and busy on anything other than perfect pavement. The basic rear suspension design also negatively affects handling at higher speeds, which is a shame since the 19-inch wheels and tires offer plenty of grip, and the steering is agreeable.

Right rear-quarter view of a 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

On the highway, the Envista is quieter than I expected. That's due to standard acoustic windshield glass, an Active Noise Cancellation system, and Buick QuietTuning noise insulation efforts. It has no trouble cruising at extra-legal speeds and effortlessly powered up a local mountain grade.

My Envista ST test vehicle averaged 28 mpg on the evaluation loop. The official EPA estimate is 28/32/30 mpg in city/highway/combined driving. Unfortunately, the result over an entire week of driving was 25.5 mpg, nowhere near what owners might expect.

Overall, the Envista was decent to drive. But with a price of nearly $30,000, my thoughts kept returning to a Honda Civic Hatchback I'd recently road-tested. Yes, the Honda was much louder inside and sat lower to the ground. But otherwise, I found it was dynamically superior in every respect for about the same price. And it averaged 30.2 mpg on the testing loop.

But I'll say this much: I found the Buick Envista more satisfying than a Honda HR-V.

Side view of an orange 2024 Buick EnvistaChristian Wardlaw

The 2024 Envista Is a Diamond in the Rough

Among compact crossover SUVs, the 2024 Buick Envista is a diamond in the rough. It looks terrific, inside and out. Given the design, it offers more passenger and cargo space than you expect. And the simple effectiveness of the digital gauges, infotainment system, and driving-assistance technology is impressive.

The 2024 Envista is good enough that you can easily excuse the cheap interior plastic. Unfortunately, I found the driving dynamics and fuel economy disappointing.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.