2024 Buick Envista First Look: Striking Crossover Starts Under $24,000

Buick is shaking up its entry-level SUV offerings. With the departure of the old Encore, it's time for the 2024 Envista to step into the budget limelight. The cheapest model in the automaker's line-up, the Envista is harder to define than the compact crossover it replaces. While it may borrow styling and practicality cues from SUVs, sedans, and even Buick's striking Wildcat EV concept, one thing is for sure: at a starting price of under $24k, it's unexpectedly affordable.

It'll turn heads for more than just the price tag. New architecture leaves the Envista wider than the Encore and 14 inches longer. It's 11 inches longer than the Encore GX, yet lower than both.

The result is sleek and shark-like, with hints of the Lamborghini Urus from some front angles. The Wildcat EV concept donates the new Buick emblem and family grille, with slimmer headlamps and taillamp clusters than we're used to seeing from Buick. From the side, the sloping roofline and Sportback-style trunk have hints of a sedan, but with the taller ride height that Buick says customers prefer.

Those preferences are reflected in Buick no longer offering a sedan in its line-up. That's not to say it has forgotten about fans of that body style. Envista aims to give those coming off two- and three-year leases of prior Buick sedans something to upgrade to while attracting younger, female, and multicultural demographics.

Three trims, all under $30k

There'll be three configurations, with Buick doing its best to add clear distinguishing features between each. The most affordable is the 2024 Envista Preferred, from $23,495 (plus destination); it gets 17-inch wheels and a cloth interior.

The 2024 Envista Sport Touring, or ST, is in the middle from $25,195 (plus destination). It's hard not to predict this as the sweet spot of the line-up, with its striking gloss-black body cladding and sports interior. 18-inch black wheels are standard, with 19-inch versions an option.

Finally, there's the 2024 Envista Avenir, from $26,695 (plus destination). It includes a Watts Link suspension system for greater refinement; Buick will offer that as an option on the Envista ST. Pearl Nickel 19-inch wheels are standard.

For comparison's sake, Mazda's 2024 CX-90 starts at $39,595, and the 2024 Chevy Equinox EV has received a price tag starting at $30,000, while the 2024 Trax MSRP is $20,400.

One drivetrain makes the decision easier

Regardless of trim, under the hood, a 1.2-liter turbocharged gas engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Buick expects its four-cylinder to deliver 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. While that may not sound much, a rapidly-reached and relatively broad torque band means you should end up in peak (or close to peak) power more often than not, the automaker promises. Final economy figures haven't been confirmed, but Buick expects a combined 30 mpg.

What you won't find on the options list is all-wheel drive. Despite the crossover billing, the 2024 Envista will be resolutely front-wheel drive only. Buick argues that a single drivetrain configuration makes things more straightforward and points to the Encore GX as a still-relatively-affordable AWD SUV.

While that may still disappoint those who like the reassurance and traction of all-wheel drive, the reality is that only about 50% of Encore GX buyers currently pick an AWD configuration. Meanwhile, the 2024 Encore GX has seen a price adjustment that makes that option a little more affordable than it was before.

A spacious cabin with plenty of tech

Inside, there's a healthy amount of equipment in a spacious cabin. The extra length means both rows are adult-scale without sacrificing trunk space: pop the hatchback, and there's 20.7 cu-ft to play with. Drop the 60/40 split rear bench, and that expands to 42 cu-ft. A power tailgate is optional.

The driver gets twin digital displays as standard, and neither is the pokey little panel we're used to in more affordable cars. Buick says the 11-inch infotainment screen is the largest in the Envista's segment. It's running an updated version of the automaker's software, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (there are USB-C and USB-A ports), plus voice recognition.

The driver display is configurable, with several different interfaces. It's also possible to select key driving metrics — such as fuel economy or tire pressure — and add those to the driver's screen.

A few omissions but you can't argue with the price

Unsurprisingly, Buick's budget didn't quite stretch in some areas, though they're less imposing than you might expect for a sub-$30k sticker. While the Envista Avenir's quilted seat stitching is very pleasant, there's still a reasonable amount of hard plastic across all the trims. The sunroof feels diminutive compared to the panoramic glass we're increasingly used to.

The fact that safety features like the Buick Driver Confidence package are standard across the board is welcome. That includes automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warnings, and automatic headlamps. There's no bird's eye camera, but the reversing camera is at least high-definition. Options include lane change alert with blind zone warnings, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control, though not GM's capable Super Cruise system.

Full specifications will drop ahead of the 2024 Envista's arrival in dealerships, which Buick says to expect in summer 2023.