- Swoopy styling draws heavily from the Wildcat EV concept car
- Turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission
- Healthy amount of infotainment and driver assist tech available
2024 Buick Envista First Look: Concept Car Style on a Budget
Meet Buick's idea of entry-level
If you're confused about where the 2024 Envista belongs in Buick's all-SUV lineup, allow us to explain. Sizewise, the Envista slots in between the subcompact Encore GX and the larger Envision. But the Envista will replace the Encore (the non-GX model) as the brand's entry-level vehicle, with a starting price under $24K.
The Envista is the brand's first real-world application of the gorgeous Wildcat EV concept car's design language. It's an attractive little crossover and looks to strike a strong balance between style and a tenuous budget. The size is in the sweet spot for buyers who live in the city, offering a compact footprint while still giving rear passengers ample legroom.
The small SUV class is a bit of a bar fight these days, with the Volkswagen Taos, Mazda CX-30, Chevrolet Trailblazer and the Envista's smaller but more expensive brother, the Encore GX, scrapping it out for class honors. Buick could do well to bring some new buyers into the brand, and the Envista may prove to be an interesting option for shoppers tired of the same old SUV offerings.
What's under the Envista's hood?
Diminutive would be a good word to describe the Envista's engine. Displacing a mere 1.2 liters from only three turbocharged cylinders, the little unit still manages to churn out 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The newest generation of this engine — an older version has been offered on other Buicks — uses fewer parts and is lighter than its predecessor, which should benefit handling balance as well as fuel economy.
All Envistas will be front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is not offered), and it will use a six-speed automatic transmission to help put the power down. We tested an Encore GX equipped with the ever so slightly larger and slightly more powerful 1.3-liter turbocharged engine and found it accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds. We expect a marginally slower time from the Envista, but we'd really prefer if it could do the deed in under 10 seconds. Fuel economy numbers have not been confirmed by the EPA, but Buick seems confident the Envista will get 30 mpg combined.
How's the Envista's interior?
Despite its small footprint, the Envista offers a surprising amount of space for all passengers. Front seat occupants can't miss the Envista's two digital displays, which are housed under one continuous piece of glass. The 8-inch digital instrument panel combines with the class-leading 11-inch infotainment display to lend the Envista a trendy, modern look. Three trim levels are offered (Preferred, ST and the luxury-leaning Avenir) and all come with distinctive combinations of upholstery and interior detailing.
Cabin materials look similar to what you get with the Encore GX. We liked the shape of the barely flat-bottom steering wheel (it's standard) and thought most of the major touchpoints had a premium feel. There were areas of harder plain plastics — primarily in and around the center console — but that's nothing out of the ordinary for the Envista's asking price. Thanks to standard active noise cancellation, interior noise levels should remain low.
The back seats offer a decent amount of legroom, especially for the class. In our brief introduction to the Envista, we found that a 6-foot-tall rear passenger could sit comfortably behind a 6-foot-tall driver. Headroom, despite the sloping roofline, was also more than acceptable.
Those rear seats have a 60/40-split folding option that increases the cargo capacity from 20.7 cubic feet with the seats up to 42 cubes with the seats dropped. For reference, that's about on par with the cargo capacity on the stylish Mazda CX-30 but slightly less than what you get with a Volkswagen Taos and the smaller Buick Encore GX. A power liftgate is available.
How's the Envista's tech?
Behind the double-wide glass panel sits the latest Buick infotainment operating system. On first blush, the graphics are similar to what we've seen on other new vehicles from GM. Lines are crisp, the graphics are easy to read, and the menu structure is straightforward. Climate control functions are split between a good number of physical buttons and a virtual menu, which is easy to call up. As you'd expect, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both supported.
The Envista will come standard with driver safety tech such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. Other driver assist systems are available and include adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic warning and blind-spot warning.
If you squint, the 2024 Buick Envista starts to look like a miniature Lamborghini Urus. So as far as styling goes, it's off to a great start. But there's more to being a competitive compact SUV than just great sheetmetal. A small engine and a lack of available all-wheel drive might hold it back a bit, but the Envista offers quite a lot of equipment and interior space for the money. We can't wait to take the Envista for a spin in the coming months to see if its positive first impression has staying power.