Buick is a brand that has spent a great deal of the last few decades reinventing itself, and to be honest, it’s needed to. As the American premium market shifted from full-size sedans like the Buick LeSabre and Park Avenue to trucks and SUVs, Buick found that its position as the affordable luxury brand in the GM lineup had been usurped by GMC. In response, Buick also pivoted to larger vehicles, introducing a variety of new SUV models and ending sedan production. However, rather than try to beat GMC at its own game with competitors to the large and ostentatious Denali models, Buick began producing smaller and more affordable premium models. Now, Buick may have released its best vehicle yet with the 2024 Buick Envista.
A Rather Tame Wildcat
In 2022, Buick introduced a futuristic concept car called the Buick Wildcat EV. This swoopy two-door attracted a ton of attention for its all-electric powertrain, but it also previewed a new design language for Buick that looks far more attractive than the (can we say it?) somewhat elderly image of its current SUV models. That design language has now hit the streets, along with a new tri-shield brand emblem, in the 2024 Buick Envista, and the new SUV does look sharp.
Although positioned as the new entry-level model in the Buick lineup to replace the old Encore, the Wildcat-inspired Envista is actually larger than the more expensive Buick Encore GX. This is thanks to its streamlined appearance and long, sloping roofline, which makes it look more like a sporty coupe than a practical family SUV. However, don’t let its looks fool you––the Envista is a rather tame wildcat with four doors, an efficient three-cylinder engine, and plenty of room for passengers and cargo. While it may not be polite to say, it embraces style over substance but does so in a way that will likely work well for many buyers.
Good Looks at an Unbeatable Price
There is a ton of competition in the premium small SUV market. From established segment rulers like the Mercedes-Benz GLB and Lexus NX to upstarts like the Kia EV6, there have never been more choices when it comes to small but potent vehicles loaded with features and technology. Buick would admittedly face an uphill battle competing fair and square in the segment, so it decided to compete on price and did a fabulous job. Starting at just $23,495 for the base model, the 2024 Envista even manages to undercut non-premium options like the Chevy Equinox and Ford Escape.
For that low price, you will actually enjoy a ton of features that deserve the “premium” label. That includes 19 inches of LCD screens spread across the dashboard, with the 11-inch center touchscreen being the largest in the segment. Large 18-inch wheels come standard to show off the sharp lines of the new design language, and a standard flat-bottom steering wheel gives the cabin a sporty feel. However, don’t expect that sporty feel to translate into sporty performance. Buick had to cut something to meet that enticing price point, and that something was power. With a turbocharged three-cylinder producing just 136 hp, the Envista isn’t fast, although it should be plenty efficient.
It May Not Be Perfect, but It’s Not Bad
If you are in the market for a small SUV that sports some eye-catching style and tons of premium features at an incredibly affordable price, then the new 2024 Buick Envista deserves to be on your radar. This entry-level model might not have the raw power of other options in its segment, but for many drivers, that is just fine. Not everyone interested in enjoying premium features wants to pay more for a super-powerful engine they will never use. Buick looks like it might be onto something here making luxury more attainable and the brand might just have found its place in the modern world.