Now that Buick has established itself as a solid lineup in the General Motors family, the automaker is taking a page out of the GMC Denali playbook with its all-new Avenir luxury sub-brand. It’s no coincidence that the first model to get Buick’s Avenir treatment is the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir, as it gives GM a much-needed competitor in the popular three-row, mid-size luxury crossover segment. While GM has been hurting for a to go up against the Volvo XC90, Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60 and Lexus RX 350L, is the world ready for a $60,000 Buick? We spent a week in the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir AWD to find out.
2018 Buick Enclave Avenir Exterior
The second-generation Buick Enclave has a sleeker and more modern look than its predecessor – a crossover that went largely unchanged for a decade. The new Enclave still has a rounded, minivan-esque profile, but Buick’s new design language looks great scaled up to this size. The upright front end features narrow headlights with stylish LED running lights, while the fender vents add a nice visual touch. The biggest improvement to the Enclave’s design is to the rear end, where the narrower taillights and wraparound-look rear glass are more pleasing to the eyes.
The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir takes the styling up a bit with exclusive elements such as the three-dimensional mesh grille, 20-inch, six-spoke wheels with a pearl-nickel finish and, of course, the Avenir door badges. This isn’t a lot of extra style considering the added price of the Avenir package, but that just goes to show how good the new Enclave’s design is in the first place. It looks even better in the grayish blue Dark Slate Metallic hue that came on this tester.
2018 Buick Enclave Avenir Interior
Buick says that the Avenir treatment is the “highest expression of Buick luxury,” and while the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir was a pleasure to spend time in, it falls short compared to more established competitors. Offsetting the upscale touches like the rich brown leather, a mix of metallic and wood trim and the stitched, soft-touch accents on the instrument panel and center console, the Enclave Avenir falls short with manual sunshades (on the dual-panel moonroof), a cheap-feeling steering wheel and center stack controls, and lack of some of the high-tech goodies we’ve come to expect from a luxury-minded crossover. Overall, this interior just looked and felt a little too much like the $50,000 Traverse Premier we drove back in May. The Enclave Avenir does get exclusive features like the embroidered first-row headrests, real mahogany wood on the steering wheel, eight-inch configurable gauge cluster and unique Avenir-scripted sill plates.
One area it’s hard to fault the new Enclave is how much space it affords passengers. You can actually fit adults in the third row, although thanks to the Enclave’s rounded roofline, third-row headroom is slightly less than the Traverse. Access to the third-row is easiest on the passenger side thanks to a tilting and sliding second-row seat, and both rear rows fold flat to allow for 97.6 cubic feet of cargo space (and there’s an additional 3.1 cubic feet hidden under the load floor). The third row is power operated, and can easily fold up or down using switches in the cargo area. No matter where you sit in the Enclave, there is bountiful connectivity thanks to OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot and a total of six USB ports.
The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir might have its downfalls, but this is still an excellent high-end family hauler.
2018 Buick Enclave Avenir Powertrain
All 2018 Buick Enclave are powered by the same 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 mated to a nine-speed automatic, and all but the base trim levels are available with all-wheel drive. Opting for AWD does upgrade the Enclave to a larger 21.7-gallon fuel tank, although EPA-rated fuel economy estimates drop slightly to 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway**; a minimal 1 mpg drop compared to the FWD Enclave. The good news is that the engine produces 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, which is more power and torque than the Lexus RX 350L, and the Enclave weighs about 240 pounds less than the three-row Lexus.
On the road, the Enclave Avenir is everything you could want from a luxury crossover, from its ultra-smooth ride to its whisper-quiet cabin. This tester was even equipped with the optional ($650) Trailering Equipment Package adding a heavy-duty cooling system and integrated hitch receive, which helps increase the Enclave’s towing capacity to 5,000 pounds.
2018 Buick Enclave Avenir Safety
The 2018 Buick Enclave has a Five-Star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Avenir comes standard with Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Safety Alert Seat, Front and Rear Park Assist, Forward Collision Alert and Following Distance Indicator. This tester was optioned up with the $2,095 Avenir Technology Package bringing Adaptive Cruise Control with full-speed stop and go, Forward Automatic Braking.
2018 Buick Enclave Avenir Overall
Ten years ago, it wasn’t even clear if Buick was going to survive the Great Recession, but the 2018 Buick Enclave lineup is solid proof that this brand can compete with the big boys. Adding the Avenir sub-brand was almost a no-brainer for Buick just based on the success of the GMC Denali line. In 2016, a quarter of GMC sales were Denali branded, and a year later, that number rose to a third. If Buick can come even close to matching that, it will not only be an obvious boost for profit, but also for luxury cred.
Even though the Avenir is the top of the line for the 2018 Enclave, this model doesn’t come fully loaded at its starting price of $53,500*. Factoring in the options, the Enclave Avenir AWD used for this road test review had an as-tested price of $59,540. That’s a $20,000 premium over the base 2018 Enclave, which starts at $39,995*. While this price is quite high for a Buick, the Enclave Avenir brings a lot more style and luxury than a comparably equipped Acadia Denali, and until Cadillac offers a three-row CUV, this pricey Buick is just what GM needed.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Buick dealership and test drive the 2018 Buick Enclave today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.