2016 Buick Envision Premium II AWD Luxury SUV

20160620_200850_HDRBuick’s newest SUV offering comes in the form of the Envision, a mid-size luxury crossover made in China but designed and engineered in the U.S.  It is designed to take head-on the Audi Q5 and Acura RDX, et al.

I fell in love with my test Envision, right off the bat.  It handles like a dream, seems to be just the right size, and offers good ride and visibility while generating little road noise.  Buick has positioned the classy, analog clock angled towards the driver but to the right of the dashboard middle so that others can easily peek at it from elsewhere in the cabin.  A little thing, no doubt, but when you add up a lot of little things a great motoring experience generally unfolds.

My test Buick carried an M.S.R.P. of $47,525.00, including a panoramic moon roof for $1475.00, Ebony Twilight metallic paint for $395.00, and freight for $925.00. 20160621_072112 Base price was $44,710.00.  The Ebony (black) paint was offset by an interior with light neutral perforated leather seating (for five), front buckets (both heated and ventilated), and a 60/40 back seat with fore/aft and reclining feature.

Interior equipment included GPS navigation with 8″ touch screen, Bose 7-speaker stereo with satellite radio, OnStar 4G LTE and built-in WiFi hotspot, head-up display, remote/push button starter, and memory driver seating.  I liked the support of the driver seat and thought visibility was good.

Wheels on the Envision are 19″, ten-spoke alloy with Manoogian silver finish and they have Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2, 235/50R19 mud and snow radials installed.  The tires selected are biased toward traction first, ride quality second, and economy third.  Styling of the Buick stacks up well with the competitors mentioned earlier and the grill is designed in the company “waterfall” design that is seen on Veranos, etc.  Overall length of the Envision is 184″, wheelbase is 108″, and the car weighs 3,800 lbs.  Of course it fits in between the Buick Enclave and the Encore in terms of size and pricing.20160620_201143_HDR

The lone power option for the all-wheel drive Envision is a 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine with a turbocharger and 252 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 260 lb. ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm. I found the car to be quite peppy – transmission is a six-speed 6T70 electronically controlled automatic with floor shift.  Fuel economy ratings are 22 combined, 20 city, and 26 highway miles per gallon.  Premium fuel is burned in the car and it is stored in a 17.3 gallon tank.

General Motors says it wasn’t even sure about bringing the Envision to the United States when it made plans to build it in China years ago. The vehicle was designed for the Chinese market, where Buick is a sales leader and is General Motors’ top brand. The company has sold nearly 150,000 units there since the Envision went on sale about 12 months ago, even though the target was 100,000 so it was natural to take a shot at our market, where I think the car will be well-received.

 

2014 Buick Enclave Premium Group AWD

Enclave I

Buick, a company incorporated 100 years ago, has produced the Enclave full-size SUV for seven years, with the first offering introduced as a 2008 model.  General Motors employs what is called the “Lambda” platform for its Buick Enclave line, a vehicle architecture featuring easy-access three row seating, 3.6 liter V-6 power, and choice of front- or all-wheel drive traction.

Last week I conducted a test of the 2014 Buick Enclave Premium Group SUV, courtesy of Weld County Garage in Greeley.  The vehicle was painted White Diamond Tricoat metallic and the interior was Cocoa leather with seating for seven.  A facelift was incorporated into the 2013 Enclave, and carried over to my loaner, that included a new chrome waterfall grill, LED lighting front and rear, updated dashboard with IntelliLink display, and an industry-first front center airbag. Enclave TaillightEnclave Headlight

During my days with the Enclave, I had a great time driving the car.  Ruth (my wife) and I both noticed that there is a commanding feel with the firm ride, quiet interior experience, and visibility.  Acceleration, reportedly 8 seconds from zero to 60 mph, is provided by the 3.6 liter, 24-valve V-6 with 288 horsepower and 270 lb. ft. of torque.  It’s coupled with a 6-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission with console shifter.  EPA fuel economy ratings are 16 mpg-city and 22 mpg-highway, with a 22-gallon tank to provide a measure of cruising range.  The all-wheel drive system can, in slick conditions, send up to 50% of its torque to either front wheel or up to 85% to either rear wheel.

Inside, the Enclave is pretty cavernous, with 115.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, 68.9 cubic feet behind the second row, 23.3 cubic feet behind the third row, and ample seating for seven adults when all seats are upright.  Substantial equipment was on hand, including a dual power moon roof, blue mood lighting, a rear-seat entertainment system with drop-down 8”screen and 5.1 surround sound, navigation/backup camera, and Bose stereo.  The front buckets were powered, heated, and cooled, and the steering column had power tilt/telescope articulation.

Styling for the Enclave, updated for 2013, has a softer, more elegant look with the new grill taking on more of a Buick family appearance.  The C-pillars have been blacked out to tie in with the deep tint windows, Buick tri-shield emblems have been added there, and the wheels are ultra-bright, 9-spoke, 20” alloys with P255/55R20 all-season radials.Enclave

M.S.R.P. of my Buick tester was $54,850.00, and that included $2,240.00 for the rear entertainment, $1,400.00 for the moon roof, $995.00 for the paint, $575.00 for trailering equipment, $400.00 for the alloy wheels, and freight.  Buick sells over 50,000 Enclaves every year, including during the first eleven months of 2013, and after driving the vehicle, it is evident to this reviewer why the car is so popular.

 

 

2014 Buick Verano 1SL FWD Sedan

Verano I

Americans in big numbers are getting into Buick sedans; in fact big Americans are getting into Buick sedans.  I recently reviewed the company’s LaCrosse offering, noting that Shaquille O’Neal drives one in television commercials and is a spokesman.  Another Buick spokesman is Denver Bronco Peyton Manning, seen on television at the wheel of a Buick Verano.  This past week I conducted a test on the Verano such as Manning drives, a 2014 model courtesy of Ryan Green at Weld County Garage in Greeley.

The Verano is a variant of the European Opel Astra, and is marketed in America by Buick alongside the Cruze by Chevrolet, sharing the same architecture and drive train.  The engine is a 2.4 liter, 4 cylinder, DOHC, Ecotec with 180 horsepower.  Torque is 171 lb. ft., and fuel economy ratings are 21 city/32 highway, burning regular and E85 gasoline blend (15.6 gallon tank).  Behind the power plant rests a six-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control. Wheelbase,
length, and weight of the Verano is 105.7”, 183.9”, and 3,300 lbs.,
respectively.  It is a front-wheel drive,
four-door, five passenger automobile.

M.S.R.P. of the little White Diamond Tricoat Verano, officially designated a compact, was $30,515.00, including $925.00 for freight.  The car included the 1SL, or leather (choccachino), package, and was pretty loaded with all the expected amenities including a navigation system for $795.00, Buick Intellilink system, Bose 9-speaker stereo with satellite radio and CD player, moon roof for $900.00, and backup camera.  That camera, along with four windows on each side of the sedan, affords the driver excellent visibility. The deluxe paint job, which was stunning, added $995.00 to the car’s sticker price.  I had several passengers join me in rides during the week, and everyone was comfortable – even the manual right hand bucket seat was well tolerated.  The trunk provided 14.3 cubic feet of luggage capacity.

Driving the Verano was a snap; it felt light on its feet with the power electric steering, and front independent MacPherson strut suspension coupled with a z-link rear setup.  Ten-spoke silver alloy, 18” spoke wheels wore Continental P235/45R18 ContiPro Contact sporty radials, and highway ride and guidance were suitable.  The acceleration, reportedly zero to 60 in 8.5 seconds, was fine, as well.  Buick has put a lot of effort into making this car quiet, successfully.  The car is stylish, as is the custom with the Buick lineup.

Eighteen months ago I reviewed the Chevrolet Cruze, and in looking back at my observations about that car, I would have to say my preference is for the Verano that I drove last week.

Verano EmblemsVerano Interior

2014 Buick LaCrosse FWD 1SL Sedan

LaCrosse

    For 2014, Buick has made a number of modifications to the popular LaCrosse, including a waterfall grill, new front fascia, redesigned head- and tail-lights, built-in trunk spoiler, and active lower grill shutters for enhanced fuel economy.  Last week I tested such a car, a 1SL “Leather package” equipped four-door in Champagne Silver Metallic with Light Neutral leather-appointed seating.  It was loaned to me by Ryan Green, internet manager at Weld County Garage in Greeley.

Shaquille O’Neal actually fits into a LaCrosse, as I understand it, due to the front head- and legroom dimensions of 38” and 41.7”, respectively.  With those dimensions being virtually the same in the rear, I guess that means that four men the size of Shaq could ride in the LaCrosse.  Amazingly, that would represent over 5% of the U.S. population of men over seven feet tall.  Shaq, of course, is a spokesman for Buick, as is Colorado’s beloved Bronco, Peyton Manning.

The M.S.R.P. of my test Buick was $36,135, including freight charges of $925.  The “Leather package” LaCrosse has heated power front buckets, rear camera, Buick Intellilink phone/audio with voice activation and 8” screen, satellite radio, tilt wheel, power windows/locks/mirrors, and OnStar from GM.  Additionally, the car had a five-passenger leather interior and a very attractive dashboard.  Interior space, as mentioned earlier, is good and the trunk holds 13.3 cubic feet of cargo. LaCrosse Cartoon     At no additional charge on this model, Buick provides the 3.6 liter V-6 (304 hp/264 lb.ft.) with E85 capability.  EPA ratings for the V-6 are 18 city, 28 highway, and the tank holds 18 gallons of regular gasoline.  Coupled to the V-6 is a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive plus driver shift control with a tap switch on the shift tower.  The two-ton car will go zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph.

Styling is the hallmark of the Buick lineup in general, and the LaCrosse is probably their prettiest offering.  My test car featured an acceptable grill, distinctive hood vents, chrome door handles and bodyside molding, plus the sculpted trunk lid with integrated spoiler.  Ten spoke, 18” silver-allow wheels were fitted with Goodyear Eagle LS2, 235/50R18 all-season radials – the wheels were included with the V-6 power package on the LaCrosse.  The rear end styling, reworked for 2014, has new fascia and a full-width chrome accent. Also at the rear are large dual chrome exhaust finishers.

Mid-size sedan shoppers would do well to take a hard look at the Buick LaCrosse for 2014.  If the price and equipment list is suitable for such an individual, selection of this car should be a slam dunk.              LaCrosse GrillLaCrosse Interior

2013 Buick Encore Premium AWD Compact SUV

Buick Encore I

The Buick Encore was unveiled at the 2012 North American International Auto Show 18 months ago and rolled into dealerships early this year.  It is a derivative of the German Opel Mokka and is manufactured in Bupyeong, South Korea.  That German auto name sounds like something that is sold at one of the many Starbucks coffee shops in Greeley.  Buick’s name, on the other hand, is appropriate and gives a family cachet to the Buick SUV lineup, topped off with the bigger Enclave.

An Encore is classified as a luxury compact crossover SUV, and with its size it has no real competition.  I tested one last week, courtesy of Ryan Green at Weld County Garage, and it came in White Pearl Tricoat finish with Titaneum leather-appointed seating inside.  The M.S.R.P. was $32,975, including freight, with a base price of $29,690.  Options included the upgraded paint for $745, chrome aluminum wheels for $995, and a Bose AM/FM/Sirius satellite stereo radio with navigation for $795.

The Encore was the Premium AWD model and it included standard equipment such as a heated steering wheel, power memory driver’s seat, heated buckets, dual zone climate control, and remote start feature.  The car also had rear cross traffic and side blind zone alerts, lane departure warning, fog lamps, rearview camera, cruise, Bluetooth connectivity, ten air bags, tilt/telescope, and OnStar by General Motors.  Keyless entry is on hand with key start, and the hand brake is on the console, like I prefer.  The driver’s front bucket has an armrest for both passengers up front to share.  The back seat is 60/40 and folds down to offer 48.4 cubic feet of cargo room (18.8 is the number when the back seat is erect).  The Encore interior is pretty, and along with the cargo room, is a bit of a pleasant surprise for someone entering the vehicle. Buick Encore interior

Power for this Buick is supplied by a 1.4 liter, turbocharged four cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 lb. ft. of torque.  The transmission is a six speed automatic with driver shift control.  EPA ratings are 23 city/30 highway, and the tank holds 14 gallons of regular gasoline.  The Encore has a wheelbase of 100.6”, overall length of 168.4”, and weighs 3,309 lbs.  The tires are P215/55R18 all-season radial blackwalls.  It is the shortest Buick every built, and has the shortest wheelbase offered since 1975.  But it drives bigger than the specs indicate, with ride and guidance that is suitable.  And parking?  Wow, what a breeze!Buick Encore

I’ve been admiring the looks of the Encore all year as I see them in the community, so it was nice to get behind the wheel of one.  Lots of onlookers were paying particular attention to the deluxe paint, seven-spoke chrome alloy wheels, deep tinted rear glass, three-stage chrome hood vents, gray cladding, and chrome door handles.  I’d like to have driven the Buick some more, and was only able to travel around Greeley a little with a run out on U.S. 34, where I found highway manners to be fine.  When I got back in town, I pulled through the Starbucks drive-in lane – I had decided I’d like one of those Americanized versions of the German Opel Mokka.

Buick Encore wheel