2024 Buick Envista Avenir: Fresh young car for an old brand


Angelo is the dispatcher with whom I schedule media loaner cars for review. This week I asked him not to send me a Mazda Miata or Chevrolet Corvette or anything electric this week, because I had to take my wife and her friend to the airport for their seven-day trip to Georgia for the fall foliage season. Those two pack like they are wintering both in the Amazon and Antarctica—two carry-on suitcases and two suitcases the size usually reserved for deployment in a foreign country.

Angelo sent me a Buick. Fine, I thought: The Encore GX could handle the bags and three well-fed Americans, and an Envision or Enclave certainly could.

2024 Buick Envista Avenir rear three quarter

Wrong! I got a Buick Envista, the car that shares a basic platform with the little Chevrolet Trax and has a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine—turbocharged, thankfully. The Envista exists because maybe a certain number of Buick customers, likely of a certain age, roll into the dealership looking for something that resembles a car.

“Certainly,” the salesperson says. “Will it be an Encore, Envision, or Enclave?”

“No,” the customer replies. “Those are SUVs. I want a Buick car, like I’ve been driving since Eisenhower was president.”

Until now, the salesperson would have been carless, or shepherding the customer to a used Century. Now, Buick has a car, or at least what passes for one in 2023. And it is startlingly good, much like the Encore with its general competence and clean, effective styling. Both the Encore and Envista are built in South Korea.

Buick labels the Envista a “crossover,” because at some dealerships “car” is a nonstarter. But I know a hatchback car when I see one, and I bet Eisenhower did, too. The EPA, by the way, lumps it in with “small station wagons.”

Outside, the Envista looks like a Buick, and that’s a compliment. It also looks larger than it is. And bless its heart, with the 60/40 split rear seat folded down on the “40” side, and the hard cargo cover removed, it swallowed all of us and the suitcases. There’s a healthy 20.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat, and 42 cubic feet with the seat folded down. Surprisingly, there was a power liftgate.

Specs: 2024 Buick Envista Avenir

Price: $22,400 (base); $30,635 (as-tested)
Powertrain: 1.2-liter turbocharged I-3 with a six-speed automatic transmission
Horsepower: 137 @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 162 lb-ft @ 2500–4000 rpm
Layout: Front-drive, four-door, five-passenger hatchback
Weight: 3115 pounds
EPA-rated fuel economy: 28/32/30 mpg city/hwy/combined
0–60 mph: 8.8 seconds
Competitors: Hyundai Kona, Lexus UX, Toyota Corolla Cross, Mazda CX-30

I tested the Avenir model, which is the upscale expression of the Envista. (And while we’re at it, I realize that Buick is, for whatever reason, invested in the letter “E” for all its models, but Envista and Envision? One sounds like the past tense of the other.)

The Avenir package, available on all Buicks, gets you a few nice features on the Envista, such as these 19-inch “Avenir Premium Pearl Nickel Aluminum” wheels, which just looked like, uh, “wheels,” albeit nice 10-spoke ones with the new Buick “tri-shield” logo in the center. Tires were Continental 245/45 R19 all-seasons. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard; 18-inchers are optional. The 19-inch tires and wheels fill the wheel wells nicely, making the Avenir look more expensive than it is.

2024 Buick Envista Avenir front three quarter

The Envista starts at $22,400 plus $1095 in shipping, but don’t expect to find many Envisions for that price. I did locate one in a 500-mile search; even for $23,495, this is a pretty well-equipped car. It had a ton of safety equipment, including Stabilitrak, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator and auto high beam headlights, and the basics you need: Air, power windows, a six-speaker sound system, tilt and telescoping steering and, thank goodness, illuminated vanity mirrors.

The Envista ST, or Sport Touring variant starts at $25,195 with shipping, and gets you a few more features, such as black-painted 18-inch wheels. The Avenir, which starts at $29,695, has a Watts-link rear suspension that is optional on the ST, but it’s hard to imagine a lot of Buick customers would be shopping for a specific suspension. Up front, it’s a MacPherson strut setup. The suspension works as intended much of the time, but it seems surprised by potholes and speed bumps.

2024 Buick Envista Avenir front three quarter

How does it all work on the road? Pretty darn well. The four-wheel disc brakes are excellent. With the larger tires, handling is reasonably crisp and similar to other front-drivers like, say, the Hyundai Kona. The engine, a slightly updated, lightened version of the aluminum Mexico-sourced 1.2-liter three-cylinder, is adequate, but the hard-working six-speed automatic transmission could use another gear or two. First and second are fine, but a tall shift to third makes the engine flatten out. The 0-to-60 mph time of 8.8 seconds won’t win any drag races. For a mini-engine, fuel mileage is good but not great at 28 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, 30 mpg overall. The base Toyota Corolla Cross, by comparison, gets 32 mpg overall.

Though Buick touts the presence of “Buick QuietTuning” with active noise cancellation, quite a bit of tire noise makes it into the cockpit, especially on porous pavement.

2024 Buick Envista Avenir interior

Inside, the interior is exceptionally handsome, with an eight-inch driver information center and a big 11-inch diagonal color touchscreen, and logically-placed controls and instruments. It isn’t until you start tapping on all the hard plastic that you notice the Envista is built down to a price, but Buick designers did a good job of integrating it all. The Avenir’s thin perforated leather interior won’t be confused with a Mercedes, but it is leather, a plus for the price. The leather-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel feels just right. Seats were supportive; rear-seat room is adequate for a pair of six-footers.

2024 Buick Avenir seat detail

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard even on the base Preferred model. The stereo sounds decent enough, and three months of Sirius XM radio comes with it, plus you get three years of OnStar on all models—a major selling point in this market. A sunroof is optional at $795 but wasn’t on our test car.

The Envista, like the Encore before it, may not be a home run for Buick but it’s at least a solid stand-up triple. It’s the best shot Buick has had in years of attracting younger buyers to the brand, and keeping some traditional customers who might go elsewhere. That has to be a plus for GM in general, Buick in particular. The designers, inside and out, deserve a bonus. A crossover car well done.

2024 Buick Envista Avenir

Highs: Styling looks good in pictures, great in person. Willing little engine. Handsome, functional dashboard.

Lows: Six-speed transmission isn’t optimal. Interior has lots of hard plastic. Fuel mileage is so-so for the class.

Takeaway: Superior styling in an entirely livable package.




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    Another new Buick built in South Korea how you we manage general motors is partnered with Shanghai motors now everything’s built in South Korea I guess it’s a Chinese factory. Most of these cars will probably head for the Chinese market they are enamored with the name Buick

    That’s the only reason that Buick survived the carnage at Government Motors and Pontiac didn’t. The Chinese would rather have a Buick than anything. Even Cadillac!

    I saw one of these in deep metallic red on I94 over the weekend. It took me a few seconds to wrap my head around the looks and the name, very non-traditional for Buick… The driver however, was indeed traditional for Buick; an ancient lady with her chin 3in from the top rim of her steering wheel and hands at 11 and 1.

    I’m curious if this will make a dent in the market when there is an equally bland Chevy around with more advertising to gather attention.

    Another generic mall-crawler.
    What makes this one stand out from the thirty-seven other similar vehicles on the market?

    As an “older” American driver I chose the Envista after searching, pricing and generally having a tough decision to make. Was driving and quite happy with 2011 HHR. But it got totalled. After driving several others I bought the Envista, Avenir. Quite pleased with it. Wished for the 155 hp though.

    Unlike Toyota and Nissan at least this 3 cylinder isn’t above $40K. I would be tempted but at least at this time that motor is a deal-killer, I’d be looking at the $30K Hornet instead….from an older American driver.

    Although crossover SUVs do not appeal much to me, Buick’s sales in the US have really been increasing according to the Automotive News official numbers. My brother has a new Buick Enclave Avenir and it is definitely a luxury cruiser.

    This is not a car, it is a crossover. Can’t fool this multi-Buick (5 over the years, and all were cars) owner! And, a slow, likely boring crossover, at that.

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