Buick adds impressive new top-of-the-line Avenir to Enclave lineup

By Paul Borden

(February 13, 2018) Buick takes its Enclave mid-size crossover SUV to a new level in comfort, functionality, and luxury touches with the debut of its 2018 Enclave Avenir.

This is an SUV that should be on your “look at” list even if you are used to shopping in the luxury class. Make that “especially” if you are used to shopping luxury midsize crossovers. The Buick Enclave Avenir is that good and could save you money as well.

Designers gave the Enclave Avenir a distinct mesh grille, 20-inch six-spoke wheels, special inside touches, a wood-accented steering wheel, five premium exterior colors, and Avenir-scripted sill plates in addition to making standard such features as forward collision and rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist and warning, a rear camera that mirror that can function as a traditional mirror or camera to eliminate rear-seat obstructions (like people or headrests), low-speed auto braking, blind-spot warning, leather-appointed seating, LED headlamps, hands-free liftgate, wi-fi hotspot, a dual moonroof, and navigation with an 8-inch display screen.
Think GMC and its Denali trim pickups and SUVs here.

The cabin has an upscale air about it and lots of room for seven passengers, even offering up to 33.5 inches of legroom in the third row. The second row gets 38.9, the front up to 41.2. This makes the Enclave Avenir an ideal vehicle for road trips with friends.

Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 310 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 266 pound-feet of torque at 2800 and is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission that is smooth as a CVT. It’s not going to give you neck-snapping takeoffs, but it’s enough for daily driving.

Start-stop technology supposedly helps the fuel mileage, which is rated at 18 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 21 combined with front-wheel drive. That seems to fall about in the middle of its class competitors.

It is offered in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations.

With a optional trailering package installed, towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, which Buick publicists note is more than enough to tow a 21-foot boat.

All this in an attractive vehicle that just might draw the envy of your neighbors.

MSRP for the Enclave Avenir with front-wheel drive is $54,390 including the $975 destination and delivery cost. Adding options like an advance technology package that includes adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking in place of low-speed forward automatic braking, and premium suspension), a trailering package, and other features can run the final total to $57,175.

That’s a good bit more than the base Enclave, which starts at just under $45,000, but is still a good chunk of change under what similarly equipped luxury imports may run.

What I liked about the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir: Most three-row crossovers skimp on cargo area, but the the Enclave Avenir offers 23.6 cubic feet behind the third row with an underfloor hidden storage bin offering 3.1 cubic feet. Fold the third row (by pressing handy buttons in the rear area) and cargo volume increases to 58 cubic feet. Folding the second row results in  maximum 97.6 cubic feet. The infotainment system is easy enough to operate (though I would like a separate knob to surf the radio dial), and there are lots of soft materials covering touch points.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir: I looked and looked and could find no way to turn off the Start/Stop technology that is standard. The only way I could find to defeat it was to gently ease off the brake just enough to engage the engine without allowing the vehicle inching forward at the intersection. Also, this is getting real nit-picky, but to get into Reverse, you must move the lever on the center console up and to the left. Not sure I see the point of that little detour. Is there really a problem with people accidentally putting the transmission in Reverse? You get to Park by pressing a button at the top of the knob, which is fine.

Would I buy the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir? Yes, definitely. Unless you love luxury imports so much you like to spend thousands extra for, this could be the crossover for you.