It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… crossover? The all-new 2024 Buick Envista isn’t so easy to classify.
In a sea of subcompact SUVs, the Envista looks like something else altogether. Squint and you’ll think it’s a coupe, yet it has four doors and a slightly lifted curb profile. A quick scan of Buick’s website doesn’t exactly answer the question of where the Envista belongs, but reports indicate it will fight for market share against front-wheel-drive-only models like the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona.
The Envista—rumored to be Buick’s last-ever gas-powered new model—aggregates some of today’s most popular style cues into a single crossover-like design that will likely bridge multiple categories. Owing to its long list of premium, upscale features—a characteristic shared by all Buick models—the Envista might draw some aspirant luxury SUV buyers away from European imports, yet the Envista’s sub-$25k starting MSRP price tag will undoubtedly appeal to first-timers and buyers on a budget. So, what’s the Envista’s main hook to draw market share?
Its standard large wheels and angular side profile suggest a sporty storyline, but the planned fuel-sipping 136-hp three-cylinder engine seems to optimize fuel economy and low ownership costs, not off-the-line acceleration. The 2024 Envista’s advanced tech, which includes a massive oversized—and standard—infotainment touchscreen and robust connected services, suggest that Buick’s target audience is younger, tech-hungry buyers. Regardless, the all-new 2024 Envista is a strategic addition to the Buick lineup, offering plentiful features and an interesting value proposition that fits a large subset of buyers.
Styling Unlike Other Crossovers
Glance at the Envista from the front, and it looks like a sedan, yet its sloped roofline gives off hatchback vibes. The Envista sits low and wide but not so low that it escapes a crossover designation. A set of flush-mounted LED daytime running lamps slant from above the mesh grille toward the side front fenders, contributing to a futuristic look.
Depending on your trim, the grille is either framed in bright chrome or blended into the front end in a more understated fashion. The base Preferred trim has 17-inch aluminum wheels, while the Sport Touring and top-of-the-line Avenir come with 18- and 19-inch wheels, respectively.
Buick reserves its most customized fit and finish for the Sport Touring Envista, including black-capped outside mirrors, a special grille with Sport touring badging, and high-gloss wheels. The LED taillights round out the mid-range version’s sportier aesthetic, and a standard flat-bottom steering wheel outfits the dash with a splash of race car styling.
On the upscale Avenir, Buick opts for a pearl nickel finish on the wheels and a “Black Ice” chrome grille that’s unique to this trim. The body-color front and rear fascias contribute to a refined curb presence that differentiates the Envista Avenir from its siblings.
Car and Driver called the Envista “coupe-like” and pointed out that Buick’s new entry model achieves the look more effectively than the competition. Like uniquely styled competitors such as the Kia Soul, which draws buyers with its quirky, non-traditional lorry-esque design, Buick may be approaching the same segment but targeting buyers seeking a crossover with a more premium, refined design. Certainly, many budget-oriented buyers crave a more elegant vehicle that doesn’t appear inexpensive but is.
Tech for the Tech-Savvy
These days, society can’t do life without smartphones; this is especially true for Gen Z, a generation brought up on handheld devices and the internet. The Envista embraces technology both inside the cabin and via a robust suite of app-based features that let drivers locate their Envista, remote start, and lock/unlock the doors. This subscription-based service—the myBuick smartphone app—is complimentary for the first three years for Envista buyers.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard, as is an available wireless smartphone charger. Buick designed the Envista’s dash with an all-digital theme, offering a standard 8.0-inch Driver Information Center and an 11.0-inch infotainment touchscreen interface. The Buick Driver Confidence suite of driver-assist safety systems is also included and features six standard systems, including Automatic Emergency Braking, a handy Following Distance Indicator, and automatic high beams that automate switching between low- and high-beam settings upon the detection of oncoming traffic.
Given the Envista’s price point, Buick’s decision to infuse the cabin with screens and digital displays should cause tech-focused buyers to take notice. Not all entry-level subcompacts offer premium features like wireless smartphone connectivity, and most defer to analog driver information displays. The competing Nissan Kicks, for example, includes a paltry 7.0-inch screen on the base model, wired-only smartphone connectivity, and no availability of connected services unless buyers upgrade to the top-of-the-line Kicks SR.
The three-trim Envista lineup spreads a nice assortment of gradually increasing standard features, culminating in the Avenir, which Buick equips with features like unique “piano key” controls for the infotainment and an available power liftgate. In an announcement press release, Buick cites the Envista’s “spaciousness and sense of lightness” as a key differential, as well as the more upscale trim and finish materials selected by the automaker’s design team. Premium touches, like embroidered trim logos on the headrests, give the Envista a much more premium appearance.
Because the Envista is technically a crossover, cargo capacity is superior to what you’ll find on a traditional sedan. Up to 42 cu.ft. of cargo room is available; with the rear seats left upright, that number falls to a still-respectable 20.7 cu.ft.
Motor Trend believes the Envista is designed for SUV-hesitant buyers looking to ease their way into a utility vehicle. With a decent increase in cargo capacity and minimal truck-like features, this transitional element could end up being the hook.
The Envista has the same QuietTuning sound attenuating system found on more expensive Buick models. QuietTuning includes special glass on the windshield and additional foam insulation in the body panels and at other openings to keep exterior noise out. Sound absorption in the interior also contributes to the overall QuietTuning approach, as are the triple-sealed doors and denser carpeting on the interior floor.
QuietTuning is a Buick-exclusive perk and a feature that entry buyers will appreciate once they slide behind the wheel, pull the door closed, and experience the “sealed-in” atmosphere—something you won’t find in entry-level vehicles from any other consumer-focused automaker.
The New Crossover Concept
The 2024 Buick Envista bridges the gap between SUV and sedan for buyers looking to try a different body style or replace a sedan that no longer fits their lifestyle. Buick is poised to occupy a unique space in the subcompact crossover category by keeping fuel economy ratings high and the price tag low. Most competitive models don’t include the same number of standard and available premium features as those buyers will find throughout the Envista lineup, which gives Buick a significant advantage.
Another clue that Buick wishes to differentiate the Envista for a different subset of buyers is the lack of available all-wheel drive. This is a crossover for urban dwellers and commuters, not for weekend adventurers looking to tackle inclement weather or perform some mild off-roading. The Envista is designed for pavement, meaning neighborhoods and city streets are its domain, not dirt paths or twisty mountain roads.
For a specific buyer, the Buick’s Envista release is welcome news. The Envista will perform like a fierce sedan and offer consumers a “crossover lite” design that steers away from boxy exteriors and high seating positions. Refinement is the special sauce that Buick provides, and other manufacturers don’t, so if your wish list includes an inexpensive entry car that looks, feels, and drives like a far more expensive alternative, the ambitious, segment-defying 2024 Buick Envista might be the one.