Premium SUV Review: 2022 Buick Envision Avenir

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Aug 082022

Like many General Motors brands, Buick got out of the car business (officially in 2020), and opted to fill its lineup exclusively with sport utility vehicles (SUVs). One of its premium nameplates, the Envision got a redesign in 2021 and Latino Traffic Report recently got to test drive the top-of-the-line 2022 Envision Avenir, an elegant and well-equipped option in its segment.

Each of the three available trims—Preferred, Essence, and Avenir—has specific design features. An exclusive mesh grille design with tinted chrome trim and 20-inch wheels with a Pearl Nickel finish distinguish the Avenir. All models have LED headlamps and taillamps and daytime running lights.

As a premium model, the Envision matches its streamlined exterior to a handsome interior design with quilted leather seating for five, and aluminum and wood accents. For added convenience, a 60/40-split second row folds flat to create 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first-row seats. The Avenir includes Buick’s first available 10.2-inch-diagonal touchscreen with 30 easy to program XM and radio presets. A heated steering wheel and an air ionizer, a first for Buick in the United States, are standard on the Avenir and Essence trims.

Hoping to improve performance as well as fuel economy, the new Envision is powered by a 2.0-liter Turbo I-4 engine with 228 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft of torque with direct injection and Stop/Start technology. It’s matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift control. While all-wheel drive is available, the test model came with front-wheel-drive.

The EPA estimated fuel economy for the test model was 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg. During the week-long test drive it averaged 25.6 mpg.

Chock full of safety features, all Envisions come with GM’s signature Rear Seat Reminder that chimes when the vehicle is turned off to remind folks to check for valuable cargo in the back seat. A seat buzzer, another excellent GM feature, sends a physical sensation to the driver to warn of an impending collision. The standard Driver Confidence package offers nine standard active safety features, including Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, and Automatic Emergency Braking. For added safety, a light “welcome/walkaway” illuminates the ground by the door when drivers engage the key fob while approaching.

The test model also included connectivity features like wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a remote vehicle starter, navigation, OnStar, and Bluetooth with voice recognition.

Semi-autonomous features like adaptive cruise control came at a high price on the test model as part of the Technology Package ($1,965) that also included enhanced auto parking assist. A driver seat massage function and blind spot monitor, however, were modestly priced additions as part of the Premium Seat ($350) and Safety ($200) packages, respectively. The test model also included the available panoramic moonroof ($1,450).

With a starting MSRP of $34,795 the as-tested pricing came to $45,010.

Sí: An elegant design and premium features plus decent fuel economy make the Envision a good value.

No: The Technology Package added good features but at a steep price point and the massage function in the seats was hard to find.

Compact SUV Review: 2018 Buick Encore

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Jun 012018


Fuel efficiency and versatility, that’s what makes the compact sport utility vehicles (SUVs) so appealing. Buick entered the segment in 2013 with the Encore, now Buick’s best-selling vehicle. Latino Traffic Report recently test-drove the 2018 Encore at a time of year that put its versatility to the test.

Offered in Encore, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence, and Premium trims, I drove the latter that also included the available all-wheel drive.

The Encore arrived for testing in December, just in time for Christmas tree shopping. While it took three steps to fold the 60/40-split rear seat flat, once done it exposed 48.4 cubic feet of storage space, plenty of room for the six-foot Frasier Fur that I selected. Though I didn’t need to, I could have folded the front passenger seat flat to fit longer items. Cargo carrying also includes people and the Encore can seat up to five.

While all SUVs offer versatility, smaller ones navigate urban settings with greater ease. The Encore was no exception, performing handily, particularly when maneuvering through Austin’s holiday traffic.

Powered by a choice of two 1.4-liter turbocharged engines, the test model came with the more powerful of the two that can produce 153 horsepower and 177 lb.–ft. of torque and included Direct Injection with a subtle start/stop mode to conserve gas. It had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I averaged 25.2 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

Tech features, like OnStar 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hotspot, now standard across the brand’s model line sold in the United States, help the Encore stand out in a crowed field. The hot spot allows passengers to connect up to seven devices to high-speed wireless Internet.

Improvements for 2018 include high-definition radio, capless fuel fill, and the ionizing interior air cleaner (standard only on the Premium trim), Universal Home Remote (Essence and Premium trims) and a new exterior color Coppertino Metallic.

Standard convenience features on all Encores include push-button start, keyless unlock via the exterior door handles and an eight-inch color touchscreen, as well as Keyless Open and Start. As the top-of-the-line trim, the Premium test model also included a few more posh features like heated front seats and steering wheel, dual-zone air conditioning, and the Bose premium audio.

For added confidence, standard safety features include a rear-vision camera, StabiliTrak stability control system with full-function traction control, the OnStar basic plan for five years, and a theft deterrent system. The test model included blind spot and forward collision alerts, front and rear park assist, and rear cross traffic alert.

While pricing for the 2018 Encore starts at $23,915, stepping up to the Premium trim adds lots of dollars as well as stuff. The as-tested price that included the Experience Buick Package ($2,390) with navigation, a power moonroof, an eight-inch touch screen, and Apple Carplay and Android Auto capability, came to $36,820.

Sí: Roomy and nimble, the Buick Encore offers the versatility required of an SUV, especially a little one, and its fuel economy is competitive in the segment.

No: The Buick infotainment system was a little clunky, especially for selecting presets, and the price climbs quickly when adding features.

Car Review: 2017 Buick LaCrosse

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Jul 102017

My parents bought a new Buick LeSabre every ten years for three decades. Soon after that nameplate was retired in 2005, the LaCrosse was born and for 2017, the third generation has emerged. On a recent weeklong test drive of the 2017 LaCrosse Premium by Latino Traffic Report, the elegant sedan fairly floated along Austin’s highways and byways.

Earning a full-size classification from the EPA with the last generation, the newest version is even longer, lower, and wider than the previous model. That translates into a roomier interior, specifically, 42 inches of front legroom, 40 inches in the rear, and 15 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. The 60/40 split rear seat also folds to extend cargo space further. It also bears the new face of Buick, featuring a new design on its waterfall grille including the return of a three-color Buick tri-shield insignia, accented by wing-shaped elements.

Trim ranges include: LaCrosse, Preferred, Essence, and Premium. While the test model was front-wheel drive Premium, it can also be configured with all-wheel drive. Like any big sedan, the LaCrosse offers a smooth ride and takes it to another level on the Essence and Premium, with the available electronically controlled Continuous Damping Control active suspension with selectable Touring and Sport modes.

All LaCrosse models are powered by a new 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 282 lbs.–ft. of torque. Paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, featuring Stop/Start and Active Fuel Management, the 2017 LaCrosse FWD has an EPA estimated fuel economy for is 21 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I achieved an average mpg of 20.1 mpg on the test drive.

The Buick IntelliLink (left) infotainment system with a frameless eight-inch-diagonal color touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and OnStar guidance for three months, OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot integration three-month data plan, and OnStar five-year basic plan with limited vehicle mobile app features, monthly diagnostics report, and dealer maintenance notification are standard on all trims,

All models also include dual-zone air conditioning,  AM/FM stereo with up to 60 preset channels and two USB ports, Bluetooth, cruise control, driver and front passenger eight-way power seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Rear Park Assist.

Really posh features on the Premium test model, like massage controls in the heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and Head-Up display are standard.

Innovative safety technology from General Motors includes the Teen Driver feature allows parents to set controls, review driving habits, and encourage safe driving habits even when they are not in the vehicle is standard on all trims. Additional standard safety features include a rear vision camera.

The Premium brings safety technology like Forward Collision Alert, Head-up Display reflected onto windshield above steering wheel, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Safety Alert Seat, Side Blind Zone Alert. The test model added the Driver Confidence Package 1 with Rear-Cross Traffic and Blind Zone Alert.

The test model was also equipped with an automatic rear sunshade with the Sun and Shade package ($1,550), adaptive cruise control and Automatic Parking Assist, via the Driver Confidence Package 2 ($1,690), and navigation and a Bose stereo from the Sights and Sounds Package ($1,145).

Pricing for the 2017 Buick LaCrosse starts at $32,990. The as-tested price came to $48,395.

: Larger, more luxurious, and better looking, the all-new 2017 LaCrosse embodies the full-size sedan that Buick lovers expect.

No: Safety features like a blind spot monitor should be available on more trim levels.