Reader Question: To Buy – or Not to Buy?

  • August 13, 2023

Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Lorrie writes: I had been looking at a Ford escape – wanted your opinion – researched further and decided not to go that route. But I like the SUV style. I’ve been researching the Buick Envision and am considering a 2019 model – premium trim with AWD and 57,000 miles. The dealer is asking $29,959.

Have you got any advice for me?

My reply: Well, the first point of order when considering any used vehicle isn’t the asking price. Or even the mileage. It’s the condition. This varies from individual vehicle to individual vehicle as each has a different “story.” How was it maintained (and treated) by its prior owner(s)? What kind of shape is it in now? These questions can be answered by a physical inspection of the vehicle by someone who is competent to do it and someone you trust to do it. You will also want to ask about maintenance/repair records, especially important with modern vehicles. Was the vehicle serviced per the factory recommendations and intervals? Are there records to document that?

If all of the above check out, you are in a better position to evaluate the make/model you’re considering.

The Envoy is compact-sized crossover – not an SUV. The nomenclature can be confusing because the two terms are so regularly used interchangeably. So, what’s the difference? Well, a crossover is generally a vehicle that looks like an SUV but – unlike an SUV – is not related to a truck. Most crossovers are related to front-wheel-drive passenger cars (and offer all-wheel-drive) whereas SUVs (being related to trucks) are rear-drive (with 4WD available/sometimes standard). 4WD differs from AWD in that 4WD is often part-time (the system is usually in rear-drive mode) and usually comes with a two-speed transfer case and 4WD Low gearing. AWD is usually “always on” and (generally) does not offer a low-range/gear-reduction feature. The latter is great for off-roading and dealing with heavy/deep snow. But AWD is great on wet/snow-slicked pavement.

SUVs are usually heavier and thirstier than crossovers – being related to trucks. Crossovers are lighter, easier on gas and tend to ride/handle more like the cars they’re based on.

The Envoy seems to have a generally good record overall for reliability. My main concern with it – long-term – would be the 2.0 turbocharged engine. Turbos pressurize engines (to make more power from less engine) and that puts stress on the engine’s internals. There are also more parts to deal with that might eventually need to be replaced, such as the turbo, the intercooler and so on.

Does this Envoy come with an extended warranty that covers the drivetrain? If not, I would try to get that included. I would also want to be very sure the oil and filter were changed at least as often as the minimum recommended by the manufacturer (GM) and that the oil and filters used were of the quality/type specified. This is really important with turbo engines. The cooling system is almost as important. If it hasn’t been serviced yet, it ought to be serviced soon, probably. The vehicle is three pushing four years old and has almost 60k miles. Do not believe “lifetime” coolant if they try to tell you that. It is worth paying to have the coolant replaced every 50,000 miles to avoid far more expensive problems later.

Other than that, the usual stuff: brakes, tires; the “overall” things (e.g., has it got dings, stains inside, etc.) Then you can haggle over the price. The figure you sent is near the top of the range for a ’19 Envoy AWD in top-shelf condition. I’d like yo see you get this done closer to $17k or so, assuming the vehicle is in very nice condition.

Personally, I’d rather see you get into a Lexus RX – which is a little larger but perhaps the best crossover evert made. The V6 is a jewel that goes 200,000-plus miles without asking for more than occasional oil and filter changes. No turbo.

Hope this is helpful!

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