The 2021 Buick Envision pulls up to luxury rivals with a suave new shape and energetic performance. The Envision five-seat crossover SUV enters its second generation this year with a new body and interior, new running gear, more standard safety features, and a new top Avenir trim. Smaller than the Buick Enclave and bigger than the Encore GX, the Envision competes for your attention with vehicles such as the Lincoln Corsair, Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX, Acura RDX, and Volvo XC60.

Shapely and attractive, the Envision’s been recast in the best Buick style with European minimalism. Buick’s wrapped all its crossover SUVs in expressive curves, but the Envision wears them best. It’s sophisticated and well-appointed. The redesigned Envision looks more like a Volvo with its long wheelbase and stately lines. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Envision has a more sculpted face and body sides. Its grille is stretched horizontally across the front, with headlights swept to the corners. LED daytime running lights shape the headlights below, and frame side intakes on the lower front bumper. The body sides zig and zag with creases that pull and stretch available daylight. The rear roof pillar is still fat, but a crease above the rear fenders helps draw eyes down toward the rear wheels.

The Envision’s upped its performance game. With its second-generation Envision, Buick has polished its mid-size crossover for stronger performance. With its turbo-4 and 9-speed automatic and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive; All-wheel drive being an option on every version. It’s eager to squirt through holes in urban traffic, and energetic in its highway passing, so long as it’s not jammed with people and cargo. It already weighs from 3,692 to 3,932 pounds without anyone on board, after all.

The Envision’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 checks in at 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the latter of which arrives at a low 1,500 rpm and pulls strongly through 5,000 rpm. Front-drive models scrabble for traction at launch, when the turbocharger spools into action. Buick’s 9-speed automatic shifts cleanly in most situations, with a judder or two during low-speed operation. It can be paddle-shifted and its shifts can be tailored through a drive-mode selector that spins from Tour mode to Sport or Snow/Ice modes in front-drive cars. All-wheel-drive Envisions replace Snow/Ice mode with AWD and Off-Road modes—the latter’s more hopeful than useful, given the Envision’s moderate ground clearance and all-season tires. It can tow up to 1,500 pounds.

With a more refined suspension than before, the 2021 Envision’s front struts and rear multi-link setup can be augmented with adaptive dampers. With those, the Avenir we tested softened its attitude for interstate cruising but jittered across big bumps as its dampers stiffened quickly and dramatically, trying to cope through 20-inch wheels (18s are standard on lower-end models).The Envision’s ride pairs with responsive electric steering that’s almost without feedback through the skinny steering wheel.

The Envision’s EPA numbers are average. It’s in the middle of its luxury-crossover pack. The EPA pegs the 2021 Envision at 24 mpg city, 31 highway, 26 combined in front-drive form. With all-wheel drive, it’s rated at 22/29/25 mpg. The Envision doesn’t offer plug-in or hybrid models, unlike Lexus and Volvo. The Envision’s scored well in federal crash tests. The Envision hasn’t been crash-tested yet by the IIHS, but the NHTSA says it’s good for a five-star overall rating. Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitors are standard. Adaptive cruise control, front parking sensors, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera system are available on trims where they’re not standard equipment. The Envision’s outward vision is acceptable, but to the rear it’s compromised by a thick roof pillar.

Inside the cabin wears its high grade of materials well. Its gauges sit under an eyelid-like cover that’s mirrored by a crest on the passenger side. A swoop of gloss plastic frames the infotainment screen, but that shiny, scratch-vulnerable material’s not too widely used elsewhere in the cabin. A sport-appearance package blacks out some exterior metallic trim. We’ve driven an Avenir, which has silvery wood plastic trim with dimples that looks fairly high-end. A thin steering wheel and an awkwardly tilted touchscreen that leans away from the driver are the minor foibles in an otherwise fabulous cabin.

Four adults and travel bags fit well in the Envision. The Envision’s interior welcomes four adults with good room and handsome appointments. With its comfortable front seats and swell cargo space, The Envision rides on a 109.4-inch wheelbase, and measures 182.5 inches long. In front, the seats appear thin but have good support. Base versions have an 8-way power driver seat and a 6-way front passenger seat; further up the Envision trim ladder, the front seats wear perforated leather and get heating and cooling, and power adjustment for the front passenger. Active noise cancellation, soft materials and crisp displays give the Envision a solid feel, and its lighter-tone interior adds just the right Volvo notes.

A console with twin lids separates the front seats, as does a console with a big storage bin under the climate controls and a lower storage compartment. In the back, two very well shaped seats get plenty of knee and foot room, but head room suffers under the available panoramic sunroof, so we’d skip it. Seat heating for the back bench’s outboard seats costs extra. Most Envision crossovers have a power tailgate that opens to 25.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seats. Fold them down flat and the Envision has 52.7 cubic feet of room.

Sold in Preferred, Essence, and Avenir trim, the 2021 Envision has great standard equipment and infotainment, and it’s a good value for a premium crossover. The $33,490 front-drive Envision Preferred comes with power features, automatic emergency braking, synthetic leather and cloth seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an easy to use interface; an 8-way power driver seat, LED headlights, rear parking sensors, and 18-inch wheels are also included. AWD is $1,800; any paint color other than white costs $495. Options include a $2,500 package with a 10.2-inch touchscreen, 9-speaker Bose audio, a head-up display, front parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system. Dark body trim and 20-inch wheels come in a $1,325 Sport Touring package. A panoramic sunroof costs $1,450.

The $37,490 front-drive Envision Essence is the best value. It adds standard beige or black leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power tailgate, a power front passenger seat, remote start, and the 10.2-inch touchscreen. Skip the sunroof and all-wheel drive, and take the technology bundle instead for a price just under $40,000. The $41,890 Avenir has 20-inch wheels, heated rear seats, a surround-view camera system, and navigation. A $1,965 package adds adaptive shocks, a rear camera mirror, automatic park assist, and adaptive cruise control.

The new 2021 Buick Envision is a brilliant exercise in European minimalistic styling helping the Envision punch way above its pay grade. With restrained upscale styling, very good value, and decent driving manners; the mid-size Buick SUV is quite the silent contender. Unfortunately that may be the Envision biggest challenge: Anonymity. Which is a shame because the 2021 Buick Envision is definitely worth a look.