The perceived value of a new vehicle is often tainted by the technology and features it incorporates. Of course, manufacturers are quick to state their competitive pricing strategy, but usually only after showing you how great their new creation is with all the expensive options included. That’s not the case with the new 2024 Envista, which, as a new entry into the Buick brand, combines handsome design with simple packaging at an affordable price.
Costing just $23,495 to begin with, the Envista is mechanically related to the redesigned 2024 Chevrolet Trax, but you’d never guess it with the sweeping, sweeping rear roofline. In Buick’s lineup, it sits below the $3400 boxer and Encore GX, though the Envista’s sculpted lines and more imposing curb presence give it a more expensive feel. In practical terms, the Envista has an extra 4.1 inches between its axles compared to the Encore GX and is 11.2 inches longer overall, and that translates to a slightly larger rear passenger compartment (46 cubic feet to the Encore GX’s 42) but with 21-cubic feet of cargo hold behind the rear seat which is 3 smaller cubes.
Perhaps more importantly, especially for buyers in the Snowbelt, the Envista is front-wheel drive only—one of the few concessions Buick has made to keep its price low—while the Encore GX is available with all-wheel drive. The front-drive layout also helps keep the Envista’s curb weight in check. We estimate it will tip the scales at about 3200 pounds, making for a relatively modest load on the 136-hp turbocharged 1.2-liter inline-three. Backed by a six-speed automatic transmission, the Envista is rated by the EPA at a respectable 30 mpg combined. That same estimate applies to the front-drive GX powered by either the identical 1.2-liter base engine or the optional 155-hp 1.3-liter turbo-three (a CVT transmission is standard on both setups, though the all-wheel-drive GX comes only with larger engine and nine-speed automatic).
With an estimated 60 mph time of around nine seconds, the Envista won’t win any awards for its performance. Ample low-end torque (162 pound-feet at 2500 rpm) from the muffled three-banger helps it get around town comfortably and reach highway speeds at the end of most on-ramps, but there’s not much left in the well beyond that. A transmission that kicks into top gear at the earliest opportunity—and is perhaps a little reluctant to shift down with a stab of the accelerator—reinforces its easy-going nature.
If you feel the urge to toss the Envista onto a twisty road, it behaves in a well-controlled manner. The structure is solid enough, the brake pedal is firm and easy to modulate, and the little feel that comes through the steering wheel is just right. Perhaps its biggest dynamic enabler is the sense of agility brought by a lower center of gravity compared to the Encore GX, which stands nearly three inches taller. Wheel size is also worth noting, as the standard 17- and 18-inch options provide a slightly more compliant ride over bumps at the expense of body roll in corners. By contrast, available 19-inch tires (optional on mid-range Sport Touring models, standard on top-spec Avenir) ride firmer, yet they carry Watt’s linkage to the Envista’s torsion-beam rear axle, which helps discipline lateral force. acting on the chassis. The more sophisticated setup does make the stance more planted and responsive around corners, but it’s not a game-changing upgrade.
We imagine the Envista’s styling will be its biggest draw in showrooms. While the latest Encore GX and larger Envision features inspiration from Buick’s Wildcat concept car, the Envista is the first model to incorporate that concept’s design language from nose to tail. Upscale yet understated, it has soft shapes, good proportions and clever surface details that help the Envista look far richer than expected for a car that tops out at around $32,000 in fully loaded Avenir trim. Given our aversion to bling, we’ll settle for the Sport Touring model, which trades chrome exterior trim for more subtle black accents.
The Envista’s aura mostly carries over to its interior, with bright appliqués, textures and nice contrast stitching helping you forget you’re in an economy car. The woven-like material on the dash, for example, is clearly molded, but it works to draw your eye away from the uninspired hard plastics that adorn the rest of the cabin. General comfort levels are high, and in the center is an information display that integrates an 8.0-inch digital readout for the driver and an 11.0-inch central touchscreen under a single pane of glass. Accommodation is more basic in back, with Envista rear quarters featuring less decoration on their door panels and no climate control vents behind the center console. The five-foot-11 author has plenty of room when sitting behind his own driving position, but taller riders who sit higher in the saddle may feel confined by the intruding roofline.
While far from the sporty, unpolished styling of Buick’s more powerful models, the Envista’s shortcomings are largely offset by its attractive styling and price. A heated steering wheel and front seats are available on all trims, and automatic high beams, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection are all standard. As the Buick brand moves to modernize its image with a newly redesigned logo, the Envista makes an affordable base.
2024 Buick Envista
Vehicle Type: front engine, front wheel drive, 5 passenger, 4 door wagon
Base: Optional, $23,495; Sport Touring, $25,195; Avenir, $29,695
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve inline-3, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 73 in31199 cm3
Power: 136 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 162 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 182.6 in
Width: 71.5 inches
Height: 61.3 inches
Passenger Volume, F/R: 51–54/46 feet3
Cargo Volume, Rear F/R: 42/21 feet3
Curb weight (C/D estimate): 3100–3200 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 9.0 seconds
1/4-Mile: 16.7 seconds
Top Speed: 115 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 30/28/32 mpg
Mike Sutton is an editor, writer, test driver and general car nerd who has contributed to Car and DriverReverend and irreverent passion for cars since 2008. A native Michigander from suburban Detroit, he enjoys the outdoors and complains about the weather, is passionate about off-road vehicles, and believes in federal protections for naturally aspirated engines.