Both the Envision and Highlander have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Envision has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Highlander’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.
Both the Envision and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Envision its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2017, a rating granted to only 44 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Highlander was last qualified as only a “Top Pick” in 2016.
The Envision comes with a full 4-year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The Highlander’s 3-year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Envision 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Highlander. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Highlander ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.
The Envision’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Highlander’s (6 vs. 5 years).
There are over 65 percent more Buick dealers than there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Envision’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked fourth.
The Envision’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 12 more horsepower (197 vs. 185) and 8 lbs.-ft. more torque (192 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.
On the EPA test cycle the Envision FWD with its standard engine gets better fuel mileage than the Highlander FWD 4 cyl. (22 city/29 hwy vs. 20 city/24 hwy).
Regardless of its engine, the Envision’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Toyota only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Highlander LE Plus/XLE/Limited/Platinum.
The Envision Premium’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander SE/Limited’s 55 series tires.
The Envision’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Highlander doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For better maneuverability, the Envision’s turning circle is 2.3 feet tighter than the Highlander’s (36.4 feet vs. 38.7 feet).
The Buick Envision may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 to 550 pounds less than the Toyota Highlander.
The Envision is 8.8 inches shorter than the Highlander, making the Envision easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The front grille of the Envision uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Highlander doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The Envision uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Envision has a much larger cargo area than the Highlander with its rear seat up (26.9 vs. 13.8 cubic feet).
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Envision’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Envision’s cargo door can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its cargo door, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Envision has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
The Envision Essence/Premium’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Envision Premium offers an optional heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The power windows standard on both the Envision and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Envision is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.
The Envision’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Highlander’s power windows’ rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Envision Premium offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Highlander doesn’t offer cornering lights.
When the Envision Essence/Premium is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Envision has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The Envision has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Highlander doesn’t offer a middle row seat center armrest.
The Envision has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Highlander.
The Envision Premium’s optional Automatic Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Highlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.