Most Monday mornings I am awoken not by an alarm, but from the incessant buzzing of my cell phone receiving a call. When I answer, I am greeted by the friendly, chipper voice of an employee with the fleet company that delivers cars for me to test.
It is the voice of someone who clearly started their day hours earlier, around the same time I ended the prior day.
“BLGASUGHHA,” I answer, failing in my attempt to hide the fact that I was in a very deep slumber just seconds ago.
While my voice may not show it, this is an extremely exciting call to receive. It is at that time I discover what car I will be testing that week. Yet, when the call came a few weeks ago to inform me that my test period with the 2019 Buick Envision was over, it was a bit depressing.
That’s because I loved it.
The Envision is not only supremely comfortable, well-equipped and practical, it is a joy to drive.
The 2.0-liter turbo four that comes standard in the Premium II version I tested was peppy yet smooth and provided abundant get-up-and-go with 252 horsepower and 295 pounds of torque.
The new nine-speed automatic had no troubles selecting the right gear in either spirited or relaxed driving. Shifts were practically imperceptible when setting off from a stop at anything but full bore.
The steering feel is tight and precise at speed, giving you the confidence to give the Envision a good thrashing to compliment the sprightly turbo four. But when it’s time to navigate a parking lot, it’s not too heavy to be a nuisance.
The MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar in the front suspension and four-line independent rear suspension keep the Buick firmly planted on the bendy bits yet provide enough give to make the Envision comfortable on highway jaunts.
New for 2019 is a brake booster which still provides brake feel without feeling it too much in the calf.
The Envision does what so many other crossovers fail to do and that’s put a smile on your face. It is thoroughly pleasing to drive.
It’s also just a nice place to sit for a spell.
The Platinum II top trim has perforated, heated/cooling leather appointed seats with 8-way mobility in the front buckets, Buick’s intuitive infotainment system with Bose audio, universal tablet holders, built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM connectivity and an absolutely massive moonroof. I’m surprise Buick didn’t have Stauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra” play through the speakers as its being opened.
Drivers will also appreciate the numerous large buttons and knobs which are easily accessible from the pilot’s seat.
For those not opting for the top trim, the Envision still comes with dual-zone air conditioning, an 8-inch infotainment system, Wi-Fi hotspots 8-way adjustable heated seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob in the standard version (starting price $32,990).
The Premium II ($43,940) adds a bevy of safety features including a head-up display, lane change alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, surround vision, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. And if you have a teenager with a fresh driving permit, the Envision comes standard with GM’s teen driver mode. If you opt for the Premium II package, your son or daughter can also cheat on their license exam with automatic parallel parking assist.
The interior is spacious and comfortable for those in the front seats and ample leg and headroom in the rear, though things are a bit tight when attempting to fit three in the 60/40 split seats.
The cargo area includes 27-cubic feet of cargo space and just over 57-cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
From the outside, the Envision is certainly not going to win any beauty contests. While the front end is certainly attractive enough, the overall picture makes the Buick look like a van wearing high heels. But that said, it’s not outwardly unpleasant to gaze upon by any means.
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the Envision, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows.
To get the rear seats to fold from the cargo area, you pull on two door handles taken straight from the Envision parts bin. While it’s all well and good having six door levers on a four-door crossover, I could never work out why sometimes the rear seats went all the way down while other times they just drooped a bit like a I told them I didn’t like their new shoes.
The only success I found to fully depress the rear seats was to pull the levers in the cargo area, walk to the rear doors and pull the seat handle to finish the job. A bit of a nuisance when you’re shopping cart starts careening around the parking lot.
The all-black interior was a bit drab, and the center console, which opens vertically with two separate lids, was frustrating when trying to grab something quickly.
But in the grand scheme of things, I don’t feel these took away from the overall experience of the Envision which provided comfort, safety, plenty of tech and a pleasing drive.
So if you’re looking for a midsize luxury crossover, I only have this to say; “BLGASUGHHA.”