Gasoline cars will not end with a six-figure, high horsepower Dodge bang, but with a Buick whimper. This is the 2024 Buick Envista, and it starts under $24,000 (pre-delivery, tax, et cetera), looks the business, and has a 1.2-liter turbo motor that only powers the front wheels. It could be the future of gas-powered commuters cars under tightening regulations.
Think of the new, strict U.S. emissions regulations not as a wall that keeps gas-powered cars out (that’s what Europe is getting), but rather as a see-saw. On one side of the seesaw are EVs, and in this metaphor each one weighs as much as a dime. One the other side of the seesaw are ICE cars, and they weigh, well, as much as cars. You can build whatever you want, but the heavier (i.e. more polluting) a gas-powered car is, the more of those dime-heavy electric cars you have to build. (Assuming you want a roughly-balanced seesaw, which you should, otherwise someone’s getting launched).
As the transition to our electric future happens, automakers have to find more cars they can sell to normal people that also don’t create a lot of emissions. The Buick plan, clearly, is to take its gas-powered subcompact cars and make them as miserly as possible.
The new Buick Envista is a subcompact, coupe-like crossover and it will be the entry-point for anyone hoping to get into a car without spending much money. In fact, it’s somehow about $3,000 cheaper than the also subcompact Buick Encore which, frankly, can best be described as a car you wouldn’t hate if you got it as a rental.
The Envista is powered by a similar 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder that also powers the Encore, putting out a paltry 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. It’s only available in front-wheel-drive flavor, meaning you can’t get the slightly larger and more powerful motor (155 hp!) that the Encore gets in its AWD variant. It’s also only available with a pretty basic six-speed automatic, compared to the Encore GX’s nine-speed automatic.
How slow is it? Unclear, C/D puts the “hot rod” Encore GX’s 0-60 mph time at 9.3 seconds, but this is bigger and only FWD, so a fair guess is something in the 10-second range (or higher).
So, what do you get for not that many 2023 dollars? First, a shape that looks less like the Buicks we’ve gotten used to over the years (in a good way). While it’s slightly anonymous, the crispy Envista features a lot of nice little touches that don’t make this look like an entry-level car. I also dig the new Buick logo.
The same goes for the interior, which sports both an 8.0-inch gauge cluster and 11.0-inch infotainment screen across all trims, as well as lane-keep assist and auto high-beams. That’s a lot of stuff for a bargain basement car. Toss in another $1,700 and Buick will add black 18-inch wheels, LED-accented taillights, and other creature comforts. An Avenir-trimmed Envista tops out at $31,285 (pre-delivery) with most of the options checked.
It’s not a big vehicle, but it’s not small, either. The whole car has a 106.3-inch wheelbase and stretches out to 182.6 inches in length, both of which outreach the Encore GX. As C/D also points out, the slanted rear means the cargo area is slightly smaller, but only slightly. To put all this in comparison, a 1992 Ford Taurus also has a 106-inch wheelbase; same with a Mazda CX-5 crossover, which is just slightly shorter overall.
Ultimately, this is a gamble that assumes most people don’t care if a car is fast, they just want it to be nice enough. This is definitely nice enough. I’m guessing the car isn’t amazing efficient, given the Encore GX barely squeezes out a combined 30 mpg, but fuel economy numbers haven’t been listed yet.
This is barely a vehicle The Autopian, an enthusiast-site, would write about, but I like well-designed cheap cars and I think it’s worth thinking about what it means to keep building gasoline-powered commuter cars in 2023.
I don’t love it that people I don’t think are good drivers all seem to have 4,000-lb, 300 horsepower crossovers with mediocre visibility. In 10 years will all these people be in small EV crossovers? Perhaps. In the interim, a super nice and kinda slow car is maybe what more commuters should have if they lack the infrastructure for, or desire to own, an EV.
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My 2006 Triumph Speed Triple had only 1050CCs and was naturally aspirated, but still somehow managed to make 130HP AT THE REAR WHEEL.
What’s your excuse, Buick?
Don’t think it is terrible to look at, but it should have been a hybrid. This thing would sell like hotcakes if it was.
I don’t know, I find these economy cars fascinating, seeing how manufacturers can pinch their margins and get creative to produce the most car for the least money. Maybe I’m just a bad “enthusiast” but after awhile reading about Lambos and six figure EVs gets old.
It’ll be interesting to see if SUV’s made by premium brands (ie: lamborghini) will retain value or any cachet in years to come, seeing as even the cheapest and ‘blandest’ crossovers don’t look too different to the premium stuff. I mean seriously, this and lotus’ SUV concept don’t look dissimilar at all. At least with the diablo, your run-of-the-mill corolla didn’t look like one too 5 years after it’s launch.
In that case, I see these luxury crossovers depreciating equal to cars like a Maserati Biturbo, Ferrari 412, or Porsche 944.
they will absolutely fall off at some point (probably when you can buy a corolla EV that accelerates faster than an Urus) but once they get substantially old, they start to go up again as people appreciate their uniqueness (which will probably be about its insanely complex drivetrain, and “Remember when poncy people thought offroad SUVs were the shit? that was funny”). Heavily rose-tinted, with a sprinkling of ironic enthusiasm.
South Korea: Changwon (GM Korea)
These are about as American as General Pao’s Chicken is Chinese.
GM doesn’t bother making cars anymore.
“Just import them, sell them, go through a few recalls, and eventually go bankrupt.”
“Sounds like a plan!”
As a city dweller, the original smaller encore with the 1.4T is actually a lot more appealing to me, because it’s meaningfully smaller, has the 1.4 that can be turned up and will fit in my tiny garage. Yet it’s meaningfully quieter and better riding than everything else that’s similarly tiny unless you spend something like $10k more.
I admit as a happy Mazda owner I tend to think of their lineup first but I’d take a Select trim CX-30 10/10 times over this thing for a very similar price. I don’t mind the looks but man it’s gonna be a dog
this is supposed to be BELOW the Encore? Yikes. I had one of those as a rental and the ride was so wallow-marshmallow that i puked on the side of the road. On top of that the whole driving experience was abhorrent, it couldn’t fit my suitcase, handled like a wet turd, and couldn’t decide if it wanted to redline or bog, so it’d just alternate between them… it had 670 miles.
Below the Encore GX (whose 2wd models have already been discontinued to make way for it), replacing the original, now decade-old Encore.
This is the correct take. ICE vehicles will be 3 fold in the future: enthusiast sports cars, long haul trucking, & very affordable ones like this.
“slow as hell”
“0-60 in the 10 second range”
You should get to know your readership better before you keep up this crap. That’s faster than most of my cars.
Haha- although true, from an auto journalist standpoint, the new Prius does 7.1 & even the economy cars (Civic, Elantra, Corolla, etc) are in the 7-8ish range, so it is a valid thing to point out.
Yeah, I was feeling really old while reading this, because for most of my life normal cars were this slow, and when I was young performance cars could barely beat this thing to 60mph. While I don’t love the stupid “coupe CUV” thing that kills rear headroom and practicality, I can’t find the power to hate this thing, especially at that price point. It is certainly less ugly than the Buick Encore, so that’s a plus.
Also it gets as much hp about of a 1.2l engine as early v8s got at all.
I’m picturing the Envista customer as someone in their 60s who’s watching their budget as they get close to retirement, or have recently retired. They like Buick because it’s a brand they’ve always known, and they’re proud of their 800 credit score and clean driving record.
They don’t care if the Envista goes fast, they probably don’t even turn right on red lights. For them, a ten second 0-60 time is entirely theoretical, because they’d take twice that long even if they were driving a Mustang GT.
As I get closer to this stereotype, I honestly wouldn’t mind something more comfortable than my Corolla.
in my 60s, watching the budget..
Buick is what my grandpa drove. Actually he drove a Humber Hawk, but the point is Buick isn’t a brand I know or love. That would be a previous generation.
What I want is a Maverick for my last car, but it doesn’t seem likely Ford will ever make enough that I can buy one for something near MSRP. It’s possible I may just keep driving old cars until we both die, hopefully not at the same time..
Like you, I really wanted to buy a base/hybrid Maverick as my first new car (and probably only one ever) but like you, I couldn’t get one anywhere near MSRP (or at all now) so I’m not holding my breath for it. And with the rumored PHEV and maybe even EV Mavericks coming out in 2024-5 if you believe half of what Youtube says, and Ford surely still not being able to build them fast enough, I don’t expect the situation to improve.
Not having driven it of course, I’ve got to say that this Envista doesn’t look awful. I actually think the base model should even be a couple grand cheaper than it will be… that seems like a fairer price point for an ok-looking hatchback with such a small motor. I also agree that a modest hybrid option w/a small battery pack probably would have improved the acceleration time and maybe the MPG too a bit, but of course, it’d add a couple grand at least to the price.
It’s a bit anonymous looking, but not ugly. Which these days, is high praise. I might consider it at some point in the future, were I in need of an around-town hatchback.
I like the way it looks. I don’t think it would be bad for a practical commuter car.
I haven’t driven a Buick since the early 2000s, but they did ride nice. I looked for one when I needed a beater, but couldn’t find one. The funny thing is that I ended up with an ’08 Camry with the leather power seats to fill the time between my blown-up Focus ST and GR86 coming in and thought I’d at least have a few months of something comfortable. Instead, I found the Camry to possibly be the most uncomfortable car I’ve been in even before I modified the constrictive seats of other two sporting cars (mostly cutting out much of the foam in the seat bottom’s side bolsters for both cars). The seat was the absolute worst and it rode terrible, yet sloppy. The GR has the most room for my knees of anything I’ve been in in about 17 years and actually rides the best of the three—stiffest for sure over undulations, but the shocking way it nearly glides over patchy, potholed roads reminds me of ’80s GM cars without all the rattles. What I would love, though, if I can’t have a sports car is a new car that rode and glided like an old land yacht with actual comfortable seats—velour, even—and no damn massive center console so there’s plenty of room for my knees. I wouldn’t even care if it handled poorly, too.
You sound like the perfect customer for my (fictional) new car company – we plan to sell cars that are simple, economical, and comfortable. Bench seats (buckets optional), column shift (for automatics, floor shifter for standard transmissions), physical buttons for controls. The only ‘infotainment’ is a dashboard mounted phone dock and a screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Available in 2 door fastback, 4 door sedan, and station wagon body styles. Reserve yours today!
Damn right! If I could get that, I would have no problem with an automatic. Can the dock be a slot like a cassette?
As someone who’s owned a 04 Camry, the one you bought was probably on the original shocks (like mine was).
At least the old people won’t be going too fast in these.
I think it’s hilarious that a vehicle so big is called a subcompact. I drive a Fit: that’s a subcompact.
All the other articles I’ve read about it has listed in as a compact
Is it just me or is “Envista” one of the most clunky car model names ever? Just doesn’t roll off the tongue well at all. And what’s with every damn Buick needing to start with “En-” anyway? Am I missing something here?
That’s because you will only get two fifths of the enjoyment that you would expect from a new car.
It sounds like an allergy medication
We’ll see a sea of these in Florida with the Qtip heads running into everyone…at least hopefully slower than normal….
It’s like the tangible result of someone describing the Lamborghini Urus over the phone.
Whoever was on the phone knocked it out of the park, then—this design is far cleaner and flowing than the Lamborghini Rav4.