First Drive: 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir

Luxurious interior, leading-edge tech and great road manners.

by on May.18, 2018

The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir is based on an all-new version of the three-row SUV.

Utility vehicles of various sizes but similar shapes now account for nearly half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. and the competition is getting fierce carmakers admit.

Notions of luxury have evolved during the years right along with SUVs but one vehicle holding its own is the stylish Buick Enclave Avenir with its gorgeous interior, portfolio of optional technology and pleasant road manners that fit nicely into the American tradition of upscale vehicles.

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The exterior of the 2018 Enclave has a stately aura about it that makes a careful bow to the brand’s historic tradition with a careful display of sleek lines and jeweled corners and at the very same time it moves the vehicle into the 21st century with its 21st century silhouette. The front grille and fascia is not ostentatious and the rear is equally restrained but nicely set off by the lighting display.

The 2018 Buick Enclave appearance also is given boost by the 20-inch aluminum wheels that are part of the Avenir package.

(Buick going “tagless” starting with 2019 model year. Click Here for the story.)

With Avenir, Buick hopes to duplicate the success of GMC's popular - and profitable - Denali.

On the inside, the Enclave, I thought, can’t help but make a good impression. It looks and feels luxurious with its tailored furnishings; careful stitching and accents that help create an environment of calm and deep comfort. It helps that the entire vehicle is engineered to minimize outside noise and vibration and create an ultra quiet interior.

GM engineers have been working for the better part of two decades at creating a quiet space inside every Buick and they succeeded admirably in neutralizing the sound inside of the Enclave, a midsized vehicle with plenty of interior volume.

The seats are especially comfortable and while the Enclave is equipped with steering-wheel controls that can help control the entertainment system and the informational display facing the driver, all the controls, such as those for the heating and cooling system. The Enclave also has plenty of storage space for personal items and to keep stuff used irregularly within easy reach.

I did find the lever for moving the automatic transmission from park to drive to reverse unnecessarily cumbersome, which is unfortunate because I know for certain that General Motors can do better as it did with the more efficient selector knob is the GMC Terrain, for example.

(Click Here to see how Buick is moving upscale with new Enclave Avenir.)

Inside the new Enclave Avenir

However, the powertrain in the Enclave Avenir with its all-wheel drive system, 3.6-liter engine and nine-speed automatic transmission was very smooth. It shifted quickly and efficiently and the six cylinder engine, with its 310 horsepower and 266 foot pounds of torque, had more than enough power for everyday road and the local highways. Fuel economy on the Avenir I drove is 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway. The combined rating is 20 mpg.

The ride and handling was impressive. The steering was very responsive and the brakes were excellent and the Buick Enclave Avenir had been equipped with a premium suspension package that I think boosted the ride overall ride quality and prepared the vehicle for use under less than optimal conditions, making it perfect for Michigan’s potholed roads.

The Buick Enclave also comes with a full complement of up-to-date technology including Bluetooth, 4G WI-Fi hotspot, On Star, XM Radio and the Buick Infotainment system with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It also comes with an impressive list of driver assistance features such automatic headlights that adjust from high to low beam, lane-keeping assistance, blind spot detection, cross-traffic alert, pedestrian braking and parking assistance to help drivers move in and out of a parking spot.

Other standard features on the Enclave Avenir included wireless charging, USB port and 12-volt outlet as well as an air cleaner and heated steering wheel. The model I drove also had a package of optional driver assistance features that included adaptive cruise controls and automatic braking.

Good things are not inexpensive in today’s automotive business and the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which included the $975 destination charge, on the version of the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir that I drove came in at $59,435.

(Buick takes on the import hot hatch crowd with 310-hp Regal. For the story, Click Here.)

Overall, the Buick Avenir was a versatile vehicle that could deftly handle any number of challenges while offering drivers and passengers a luxurious ride while staying connected to the outside world.

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