2023 Buick Envision Avenir
A Front Wheel Drive Buick From China
With a hefty list of options and features, this Avenir has it all - and maybe bit more.
By Doug Stokes
Sun, Jan 8, 2023 07:38 AM PST
Featured image courtesy Buick.
Images by author Doug Stokes if not noted otherwise.
I don’t mention it very often, and haven’t (at least in print) for a number of years now. But, damn me, I really waste a lot of money on subscriptions to car buff magazines. I’m old enough to remember they were the best (only) place to read about interesting new automobiles and the world around them. I still have hard copy subscriptions to some of the big titles including: Road & Track, Motor Trend and Car and Driver.
And there’s where the waste comes in. I studiously avoid reading any car reviews that I might possibly be asked to do here on LACar. I try to read all the crazy zoom and v. cool lifestyle material, and the general ultrahip car culture palaver along with any personality stories of interest... but I skip the reviews of cars that I just might be writing about here. One thing that I do though, is watch the car ads on TV to see how a car I’m reviewing is presented and to check out the claims and ostensible charms.
With the above preamble ambled, here’s a few of my ideas about the new Buick Envision Avenir FWD.
The Origin Of A Buick Envision
… A quick look through the archived car reviews here on LACar will show that I’ve not driven nor written about a new car in some time now, and a model from Buick even longer. So you’ll have to humor me when I begin this one by reeling off some of the differences that I’ve experienced right off the bat with this review.
To begin with, this is the first car that I’ve (knowingly) driven that was assembled in China, from parts that were 90% sourced there (the other 6% was from, of all places, a country called US/Canada). So, if my shoes-off math is correct, information on where the remaining 4% comes from is only available on a “needs-to-know” basis...
We live in an international world and the Monroney (window sticker) for this machine fully supports and documents that supposition.
I would to go on record here in indicating that this Avenir is also the first Buick Sport Utility Vehicle I’ve ever squired around the southland (which is what we call LA County and neighboring outposts here). It is also my first rendezvous with a front wheel drive Buick.
It come as old news to many that SUVs are now the coin of the realm in LACarland (a mythical place that actually exists) and the “two box” shape, as designers refer it, reached its zenith. One aspect of that turned up early-on in our week with this one as I found myself in the middle of a crowded shopping center parking lot cursing the electronic key that would not open the damn door of a silver/gray Ford Escape that turned out to be two rows away from where I parked my trusty Buick.
Hearing the above vexation, most contemporary car stylists will very likely mumble something about, “form following function” and smile weakly. Fact is, as I offered above, there’s only so much you can style before you either run time, space, and sheet metal. Don’t get me wrong, the Avenir model of the Buick Envision is a great looking machine … and that seems to be a trend.
This luxury edition was painted a smooth, v. handsome “Moonstone Grey” and seemed (because it was) to come equipped with almost endless features, many of which were quite handy.
Lot's Of Options
The list of features on this $45,000 and change machine seems almost endless with a new one (for me anyway) … a wireless recharging station in the center console that was ever so handy for hotting up my (veteran single-digit) iPhone. After that phone warmer-upper, the heated (8-way) front seats and steering wheel were thoughtful and welcome in the bit of cold weather and rain the hung around LA during this test drive.
I have to admit that I just never got around to the voice-recognition “Bluetooth Audio and wireless Apple CarPlay” side of this one’s fun zone but I’m sure the sort of young owners that Buick portrays in their TV and print ads will.
I DID use (and even began to rely on pretty good) the NAV map function that presented a clear idea of where I was and where I was headed along with speed limit indications that I think (at least when heeded) can make driving a bit more safe and might save a few bucks on speeding fines and keep the point down as well.
Safety And Security
This one was loaded with today’s latest driver assist gubbins, all listed under: “SAFETY & SECURITY” on the aforementioned price sticker.
ENHANCED BUICK DRIVER CONFIDENCE
FRONT PEDESTRIAN BRAKING
FORWARD COLLISION ALERT
FOLLOWING DISTANCE INDICATOR
LANE KEEP ASSIST W/ LANE DEPARTURE WARNING
REAR CROSS TRAFFIC ALERT
LANE CHANGE ALERT WITH SIDE BLIND ZONE ALERT
ENHANCED AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY CONTROL BRAKING
HD SURROUND VISION
REAR CAMERA MIRROR W/WASHER
ENHANCED AUTO PARKING ASSIST
ENHANCED LED FUNCTIONALITY HEADLAMPS
Motoring on and although there's very little mention of it, this BUICK comes with with GM's four-cylinder, turbo-charged ECOTECH engine. If your ever-so-friendly salesperson missed that little fact when showing you around the car and getting you out on the road for a test drive, you might never suspect that fact given this car's very snappy performance.
This is a big, heavy, front-wheel drive, (five passengers and most of their stuff) machine that responds to the "GO" command with surprising vigor. It's tightly-wound close-ratio 9-speed automatic transmission keeps this big Buick with the (relatively small, very fuel-efficient engine) ready to rumble at all times without any much coaching from the driver.
Yet another confession (it’s sort of that time of the year): the Avenir came with steering wheel paddle shifters (just like Indy Cars, new Corvettes, Formula 1 cars, and Ferraris)... I noted them and then never used them because the only nudging that I had to do to get this car's attention was with my right foot on the accelerator.
For the record the horsepower here is called out at 228 and the torque number (if you’ve ever read any review I ever written, you know that torque is the real working number and the more evenly it’s matched to horsepower, the better) is a satisfyingly husky 258 foot pounds that works hand-in-glove with this machine’s hyper-efficient 9-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission over a satisfyingly wide range (1,500-4,000 rpm) of engine speed).
The Buick’s four-wheel ABS disc brakes were a similar deal, powerful, smooth, no drama.
Front Wheel Drive?!
And then there's the brain-freezer of a Buick with front wheel drive...
but then again, why not? The car is quiet and careful on its feet. Add in a (truly) Panoramic Moon Roof and you’ve got at town and gown vehicle with great social range, and plenty of grace in the process.
As with all GMC machines this one has the OnStar option … two words: buy it.
OnStar is the best half guardian angel/half road buddy that anyone could ever wish for. Its always there, with a live, well-trained contentious communications expert on the other end of the line. The fact is, it’s always to you where the best pizza joint or where the nearest gas station is is a strange town, and (even better) if there’s ever anything more serious … OnStar has you well-covered every time you drive.
More Options And Controls
We talked a bunch about controls above, but wait, there’s more, MUCH more and (if this briefing has been any sort of a catalyst) much better viewed in person from the left seat. Here’s a bit of a chart, yeah there’s a lot to learn, but for the most part just about everything is intuitive. Here’s a look from owner’s information booklet.
And … just as we were rounding-out our thoughts on this one, the LA Times recently published an article indicating that the average price of a new car here in the good old U.S. of A. was now $47,692.00 which makes this Buick something of a bargain at $45,505.
About The Author
Doug has a long and wide-ranging history in the motoring business. He served five years as the Executive Director of the International Kart Federation, and was the PR guy for the Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix. He worked racing PR for both Honda and Suzuki and was a senior PR person on the first Los Angeles (Vintage) Grand Prix. He was also the first PR Manager for Perris Auto Speedway, and spent over 20 years as the VP of Communications at Irwindale Speedway. Stokes is the recipient of the American Autowriters and Broadcaster’s 2005 Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations and was honored in 2015 by the Motor Press Guild with their Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. “… I’ve also been reviewing automobiles and books for over 20 years, and really enjoy my LA Car assignments.” he added.