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2024 Buick Envista ST Sport Touring front view in front of building

A lot of people complain to me about the high cost of cars nowadays, and I get it. The average car I review is probably around $50,000, which is a lotta Samolians, however you slice it. Put 15% down, get a typical 6-year loan at the current rate and you're paying almost $700/mo without insurance and running expenses.

We've been living this dilemma too: My daughter's beloved Audi Q3 was just totaled after an incident with a deer; the insurance company calculated that it was cheaper to write her a check than pay to have it repaired. As a result, we've been looking at entry-level cars and being overwhelmed by prices. She ended up with a post-lease 2023 Audi Q5 and got a good deal at around $40K, which, after the insurance money and some additions from savings, still leaves her with car payments of over $300/mo. To put this in perspective, if you're earning minimum wage of $15/hr you need to work for 2 1/2 days just to cover your car payment.

That's why when I talk with car manufacturers I am always eager to explore entry level options in their lineup. Few of these make it to auto writer fleet status, however, since the companies prefer gaining coverage for their higher end vehicles. Can't blame them; those $100K trucks are marvels of modern engineering. But where does that leave people who don't want to allocate so much to a vehicle but still want something new, safe, and attractive?

Enter the 2024 Buick Envista ST Sport Touring sedan from General Motors. The company offered me one for a week and I was quite enthused to see how it compared to the far more expensive vehicles I'd been driving for the last month or two. For context, the base price (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) for the Envista is $24,100. Under $25K, brand new. Better yet, it's got quite a bit of curb appeal too:

2024 buick envista sport touring 1

This is in Moonstone Gray Metallic with an Ebony interior with Santorini Blue accents. It's powered by an EcoTec 1.2L Turbo engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. I'll be candid, the car's not going to be winning any street races and you'd be well advised not to try and dart into faster traffic with its meh acceleration, but once you sync up your driving style with its performance characteristics, it turns out that the Envista Sport is a pretty fun drive.

What's most impressive is how many modern safety systems have been incorporated into this entry level sedan, including Intellibeam headlights, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, and an expansive rear vision camera. In fact, let's start with the backup camera:

2024 buick envista sport touring 9

It's a pretty distorted view but the 11-inch diagonal infotainment display is fully utilized with this backup view. You can see that I need to adjust my own angle to center myself in the space and not hit the white car on the right! Let's zoom back so you can see the entire dashboard design with the infotainment system:

2024 buick envista sport touring 10

Notice the classic gearshift, no zigs or zags to change gears, coupled with a much appreciated dual cup holder that's front and center. Also note the round button on the driver's door: That's the rear power open button and you can adjust it to open 3/4 of the way or open fully, helpful in inclement weather. Everything's clustered in logical positions, and the entire climate control system is just behind the gearshift:

2024 buick envista sport touring - climate controls

Easy and a good mix of buttons and dials (though I wonder what the three empty buttons would otherwise have been used for. Steering wheel heater? Car seat coolers? This is pretty typical for a big manufacturer like General Motors, maximizing the flexibility of a unit to allow it to be incorporated into as many vehicles as possible, but it does leave some blank spots).

There's also a flexible charging area just below the environmental controls that includes a 12V charger, USB-C, USB-A, and a wireless Qi charging pad with a design that actually keeps your phone centered and charging even through rough terrain. Even more surprising, wireless charging is not an optional upcharge, like with many manufacturers, Buick includes this as part of the base configuration. In addition, the infotainment system includes both Wireless Apple Carplay and Wireless Android Auto, also with no extra charge.

The cross-bar of the steering wheel had the usual array of buttons and controls, mostly focused on cruise control:

2024 buick envista sport touring 5

The Envista does have the behind-the-wheel volume and next/prev track controls, a design that I think is poor (how do you know which is which?) but otherwise the well-spaced buttons do make it easy to manage everything while you're on the move.

Speaking of a nice design, check out the main gauge display:

2024 buick envista sport touring - main gauge display

What I haven't seen in other vehicles is the tiny timer on the top right: That 2.5s means that I am 2.5 seconds behind the vehicle in front of me. A great measure to ensure you aren't tailgating or otherwise dangerously close. I also like the minimalist gauge display for the speedometer; why show all the possible values when all I really care about is my current speed?

Speaking of buttons and minimalism, there are also quite a few buttons over your head:

2024 buick envista sport touring - overhead controls

Unusual for this particular control area is that there's no sunglasses storage spot, but it is otherwise easy to work with and while OnStar is included, it's one of the most subtle and unobtrusive implementations I've seen on a General Motors vehicle.

Stepping out of the vehicle I was pleasantly surprised by the rear legroom. This photo is with the driver's seat all the way back (I'm a tall person so need the legroom to drive):

2024 buick envista sport touring - back seat legroom

Note the Santorini Blue accents on the driver's seat. Subtle, but a nice touch to break up the endless expanse of black across all the interior surfaces. The rear passengers also have access to a USB-A and USB-C charger

Speaking of room, the very back cargo area is nicely apportioned too:

2024 buick envista sport touring - rear cargo

With the angling of the hatch and tinting of the rear glass, the rear compartment is also nicely secure from peering eyes while parked, though a tonneau cover would be even better.

I was very impressed by the experience of driving the 2024 Buick Envista Sport Touring. It was comfortable, well-appointed, thoughtfully designed, and had a better appearance than I expected. While the drive experience was a bit meh, it's no more than most of the budget cars in its class, and the upside of a slightly smaller 1.2L Turbo EcoTec engine is that it gets quite good mileage: I averaged about 31.4mpg and the EPA numbers are 28/32. Space for a growing family, cargo space, and good curb appeal paired with an accessible price make the Envista one to add to anyone's short list.

2024 buick envista sport touring - rear exterior view

2024 Buick Envista Sport Touring with 1.2L Turbo EcoTec engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. BASE PRICE: $24,100.00. Optional equipment: Convenience I Package, Experience Buick Package, Advanced Safety Package, Convenience II Package, Paint Premium, Rear Park Assist. AS DRIVEN: $29,215.00. 

Disclosure: Buick loaned me the Envista Sport for a week in return for this candid writeup. This article originally appeared on PlanetDave.com as 2024 Buick Envista ST Sport Touring: A Hidden Gem.