2017 Buick Envision
Premium and luxury marks like all brands have seen sedan sales fall as crossovers and SUV’s gobble up more and more market share. What to do? Well, by all means, give the people what they want. Thus, one century old car brand has added yet another crossover to their line-up. Only this one comes with a trans-pacific twist.
The 2017 Buick Envision adds a 3rd arrow to Buick’s crossover quiver, fitting neatly between the much smaller Encore and the much larger Enclave. This middle-child takes aim at the likes of Acura RDX and Lincoln MKC, with plenty of room for adults in all five seating positions.
Addressing the “Made in China” elephant in the room, we saw nothing to give consumers concern. If you’re a rival brand however, you might be a little worried with what Buick has been able to pull off. Is quality on par with Lexus? Well not quite, but darn close, and all design and development work took place here in the U.S.
On the road it feels competent enough, better than expected really; and while there aren’t any actual bells or whistles inside, there are more than enough up-to-date features.
Feel and placement of controls is more Euro-inspired than domestic, there’s a very comprehensive instrument panel with configurable TFT screen, and full connectivity from Buick’s IntelliLink.
The dash is dressed in lots of faux-wood, but it looks good and is well-integrated. Certainly better than some of the bland treatments we’ve seen lately.
Available safety features include GM’s Safety Alert Seat, Surround Vision, and Front Automatic Braking which we found to work perfectly every time, always braking late and hard just shy of our barrier.
Even lesser trims are very well equipped with 8.0-inch touchscreen, heated seats, and a programmable-height power lift gate.
While smooth, ride quality is more Chevrolet-firm than Lexus-plush; and the seats are a little harder than we’d like, but are adequate for the long haul.
As for hauling, rear seats fold almost fully flat with just the pull of the cargo area-mounted levers. Everything seemed a little stiff in operation, but we weren’t sure if that was a build quality issue, or things just needing to get broken in a little.
Max cargo is 57.3 cubic-ft.; and there’s a very good 26.9 with the rear seats up.
The only noise and vibration issue we’ll note is that this particular Envision allowed a little more noise and wind rustle into the cabin than others we’ve driven.
Standard engine is a 197-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4 in front-wheel-drive models. The upgrade is a 2.0-liter turbo I4 that makes 252-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque and comes with all-wheel-drive. Both work through a 6-speed automatic.
Both engines also offer adequate power and operate quietly; but the 2.0-liter is especially peppy, and was our choice for track work.
There, it felt very strong off the line, feeling like all torque is available right from the get-go. A slight bit of tire chirp and we were off to a quick 0-60 of 7.0-seconds flat.
Progressing down the track, automatic shifts were very smooth, but also slow; making our ¼-mile time 15.3-seconds at 92 miles-per-hour.
We battled typical understeer through our cone course; and when pushed too hard, onboard computers launched a fun-killing jab of the brakes to reel you in.
Kept just shy of its limits however, the Envision feels very composed and easy to place where you want it. Steering was actually heavier than expected, with better feel than most in this class. Body roll was present, but far from excessive.
Braking was quite good too. 110-feet was our short stopping distance from 60, with above average stability, and an easy to modulate pedal.
Exterior design is frankly rather beautiful, with a smooth shape and hefty proportions; while body lines are very pronounced. Standard wheels are 18s, though most trims ride on 19s.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 20-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined. For an Energy Impact Score of 15.0-barrels on yearly oil consumption with 6.6-tons of CO2 emissions.
Base, Preferred, and Essence trims come with the 2.5-liter, starting at $34,990, to which you can add all-wheel-drive. Premium trims, with the 2.0-liter are all-wheel-drive only, and start at $43,245.
While we were clearly impressed with the Envision, it’s actually hard to imagine any luxurious crossover not being a hit at this point and time. And, Buick has already been successful with the Encore and Enclave crossovers. So, we think the 2017 Buick Envision will be as well. After all, it is the very definition of giving the people exactly what they want.
- Engine: 2.0 liter turbo I4
- Horsepower: 252
- Torque: 260 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 15.3 seconds @ 92 mph
- EPA: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway,
- Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 6.6 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined
2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Genesis Waves Their Magic EV Wand Yet Again
The Genesis Electrified GV70 is not only the 3rd all-electric vehicle offering from Hyundai’s luxury division, but it’s also the first Genesis model to be built here in the US. You know, the GV70 was already a big hit with both critics and buyers, so let’s find out if a big pack of batteries and American workers can take it to the next level.
For the 2023 model year, the Genesis GV70 utility has gone electric. And like the Electrified G80 sedan before it, Genesis has integrated an all-electric drivetrain into its existing platform seamlessly and effectively.
Now, it may look almost exactly like the sleek and sophisticated internal combustion powered GV70 SUV that arrived just last year. But packed underneath it all, is the GV60’s next-gen propulsion system that uses a pair of electric motors delivering standard all-wheel drive and 429-horsepower. Both the front and rear-mounted electric motors are 160-kW and produce a combined 516 lb-ft. of torque, relying on energy from a 77.4-kWh battery. Full 350-kW charging capability will get the battery to 80% in just 18-minutes. The Electrified GV70 is rated to travel 236-miles between those charging sessions.
But based on our driving loop, we’d say more is easily possible as we were on pace for over 250-miles; making it an overachiever, much like the G80.
The approach to the interior is not so much a heavy-handed blast of over-the-top luxury, rather just a soothing blend of high-quality metal and leather materials with soft tones, subtle ambient light, and an airy feel that ultimately delivers a very comforting experience.
There’s an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, along with a 14.5-inch touchscreen that houses standard navigation, and it also has a rotary style control on the console if you prefer that, just don’t confuse it with the rotary gear selector like we did. Lexicon audio, quilted leather, and a suede headliner come with the Prestige package that also includes active noise control and white brake calipers.
Regen braking paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel allow for adjusting amounts of regen up to full 1-pedal driving; or you can let Smart Regen take control, gathering data from past driving history, navigation, and road conditions to determine the appropriate amount of braking. Drive modes include Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport +, and Custom, and Genesis has added some additional sound deadening for this EV.
Based on the incredibly quiet, smooth, and steady highway ride we experienced, we weren’t sure what to expect when we pulled this GV70 up to the line at our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.
Well, not much calmness or serenity here, as this thing absolutely blasted off the line like a rocket, hitting 60 in just 3.9-seconds. That’s almost a full 2-seconds quicker than last year’s 2.5-liter turbo-equipped GV70. It’s hard to beat performance-tuned EVs when it comes to torque delivery, and like the GV60, there’s a boost button on the steering wheel that delivers an additional 54-horsepower for a thrilling 10-seconds, helping us clear the ¼ in 12.4-seconds at 112 miles-per-hour.
The low center of gravity, an electronically controlled suspension, and a Disconnector Actuator System that allows for 2-wheel or 4-wheel-drive operation depending on circumstances, helped keep the Electrified GV70 well-planted through our handling course, and provided a livelier feel than the ICE version.
Substantial side bolstering of the front seats kept us settled in place very nicely. Great steering feel, very little body roll, and only minor amounts of understeer at its limits. Brakes were equally as sporting, with good feedback and stability, despite the noticeable nosedive that typically accompanies stopping 5,000-lbs. of utility vehicle in just 111-feet, 6-feet shorter than the standard GV70.
There are some subtle changes outside for this Electrified version of the GV70; it gets unique 20-inch wheels, and as in the G80, the signature crest grille gets an aerodynamic makeover, nicely integrating the charging port. Same 2-line lighting theme up front, and in back, where the rear bumper is reshaped now that there are no tailpipes. Cargo area is well finished with thoughtful use of space; at 28.7 cubic-ft. with a max of 56.5, capacity is down a tiny bit, but a small storage bin up front under the hood more than makes up for it.
At 37-kWh/100 miles, the Electrified GV70 rates a good efficiency score. Pricing starts at $66,975, about 20-grand over a base ICE GV70, and 3-years of free charging at Electrify America charging stations is included.
Genesis is slowly but surely electrifying their lineup, and the 2023 Electrified GV70 is not just another step in the process, but further proof that carmakers can progress to EVs without upsetting the entire apple cart of their brand. Forward thinking but staying classy, just what we’ve come to expect from Genesis.
- Motor Setup: Dual 160-kW Motors
- Horsepower: 429
- 0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 111 feet (avg)
- MW Range: ~254 miles
- Battery Size: 77.4-kWh
- Torque: 516 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 12.4-seconds at 112 mph
- EPA Range: 234 miles
- Efficiency: 37 kWh/ 100 miles