Caraganza First Drive Review 2024 Buick Envista Avenir: Like grandpa’s leather jacket

Front 3/4 view of the 2024 Buick Envista Avenir in Ocean Blue Metallic. Preproduction model shown.

Recently my 30 something year old daughter looked at my vehicle for the week, and asked me, “what is that?”

“It’s a Buick”, was my answer.

“Interesting,” she replied.

I found the exchange curious given that I’ve always felt that anything “Buick” was something that attracted those of us in the “older” generation. It’s sort of an identity crisis Buick has suffered from in recent years. That along with one that has seen the once bastion of a lineup of big shiny sedans, now only offering SUVs and crossovers.

Yes, they’re nice SUVs and crossovers, but they seemed to have a central theme. You could put them on the cover of the latest edition of AARP magazine and they would seem right at home. (For the record, I am not a member of that organization. I ignore the almost daily reminders in my mailbox saying that I’m eligible. Maybe I’m trying to hold onto my youth by denying such eligibility. In the end, however, I suspect I’m like a woman over the age of 60 wearing yoga pants. That doesn’t work either).

So then, seeing the Buick I had for the week, and my daughter’s interest, I wondered if perhaps the GM sub-brand had found the Fountain of Youth.

That Buick was the Envista. A midsize SUV that’s new for 2024. It shares many parts with the Chevrolet Trax, a vehicle that is pointed in the direction of the younger generation.

It’s offered in three trims: Preferred, Sport Touring and Avenir. While the Sport Touring and Avenir include more standard equipment, almost all that additional content is available as stand-alone options on the lower trim, making all the trim levels little more than appearance packages.

I had the top tier Avenir for my week, and as I learned with my recent week with the Encore, also the Avenir trim, this packed a bunch of extra features in the Envista like a power liftgate, perforated leather seats heated in the front and a heated steering wheel, keyless entry, remote start, wireless phone charging an upgraded suspension and 19-inch nickel-finish wheels.

First impressions matter, and the Envista certainly tries to make one. On the outside it’s got lines and curves in all the right places, like it’s been to a precision tailor. The design is sharp, and I must admit, it doesn’t look half bad for a Buick. But it’s sort of like seeing your grandpa put on a leather jacket, cool, but still grandpa.

It’s like someone put a generic car design into a computer and hit the “mild” button. It’s inoffensive, which, in the world of car design, is a bit like saying your blind date has a great personality.

That same sort of impression carries over to the interior as well. The all-digital dashboard melts into the 11-inch touchscreen. I guess the design is supposed to make you feel like you’re in a spaceship, but to me it’s a spaceship with a touch of grandma’s living room. The mix of high-tech screens and old-school materials is a bit like wearing a tuxedo with sneakers – it just doesn’t quite match.

Driver interacting with the new Ultrawide Infotainment Display in the 2024 Buick Envista Avenir.

While there are a couple of knobs, all in all the interior is about as thrilling as a game of bingo on a rainy Sunday. I mean, who needs all these screens anyway? I want buttons that go click, not a touch-sensitive panel that looks like it’s one spilled coffee away from short-circuiting.

Under the Envista hood, on all the trims, is a 1.2-liter inline-three’s 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. And only front wheel drive is offered. All this adds up to a driving experience on the road the Envista that’s about as exciting as a tax return. The engine, bless its heart, tries its best, but it’s like trying to sprint in a pair of concrete shoes. It’s not slow, but it’s not exactly breaking any land speed records either. The handling has the sharpness of a butter knife – it’ll cut through eventually, but you might get frustrated in the process.

Fuel efficiency is decent. It won’t give you a reason to celebrate, but it won’t have you cursing at the gas pump either.

At the end of the day the 2024 Buick Envista is a car for people who’ve given up on excitement. However, it’s a sensible choice, like ordering the chicken at a restaurant known for its steak. It won’t offend, and it’ll get you from A to B, but don’t expect it to make your heart race.  And with an MSRP under $30,000 (my top-of-the-line tester came in at $30,490) there’s a lot to like.

But is the 2024 Buick Envista a car for the youth? Well, it’s like trying to fit into your grandpa’s old leather jacket – it might look cool for a moment, but deep down, you know it’s not really yours. If you’re looking for a true youth icon, you might want to look elsewhere. The Envista is more like a sensible pair of shoes – reliable, comfortable, but not exactly setting the fashion world on fire.

Then again maybe that’s what the youth of the world are looking for, something sensible, reliable, comfortable, and affordable. If so then the Envista is a valiant effort from Buick that could work.

I know I won’t be looking for a woman over the age of 60 wearing yoga pants or joining the AARP, at least anytime soon.


The 2024 Buick Envista Avenir
MSRP: $28,600
MSRP (as tested): $30,490
Engine: 1.2 liter 3-cylinder 136 horsepower @5000 rpm, 162 lb-ft torque @2500-4000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Base Curb Weight: 3115 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase: 106.3
Length: 182.6
Width, without mirrors: 71.5
Height: 61.3

Interior Dimensions (inches)

Total Passenger Volume: 97.5 (cubic feet)
Front Head Room: 39.40
Front Leg Room: 41.90
Front Shoulder Room: 56.00
Front Hip Room: 52.30
Second Row Head Room: 37.30
Second Row Leg Room: 38.70
Second Row Shoulder Room: 54.50
Second Row Hip Room: 45.80
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row: 42.0 (cubic feet)
Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row: 20.7 (cubic feet)

Basic: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
Drivetrain: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.
Rust: 6 yr./ 100,000 mi.
Roadside assistance: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.
Free maintenance: 1 yr./ unlimited mi.

Greg Engle