Not only is there an all-new Buick Enclave three-row crossover on the streets, but there’s a new luxury sub-brand from Buick as well, called Avenir. So, consider this a two-fer as we see what happens when the two come together in the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir.
The 2018 Buick Enclave is the 3rd vehicle to arrive based on GM’s latest full-size C1 chassis; following the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia.
And with it, comes Buick’s new up-level sub-brand Avenir. First used on a 2015 concept flagship sedan, Avenir adds to this 3-row utility high quality interior materials that look and feel worthy of the name. The leather-covered front seats are especially nice, some of the most comfortable we’ve seen from G.M.
Most things inside the cabin, including Buick’s latest infotainment system, work really well; the exception being the clumsy shifter, similar to the one found in the Cadillac XT5. We wish Cadillac would have kept that one for themselves.
Though not too many complaints were lodged about the operation of the new 9-speed automatic transmission that it controls. We found it both smooth and decisive.
Unlike at GMC and Chevrolet, there’s no choice when it comes to the engine; only a revised 3.6-liter V6. Horsepower is now 310, with 266 lb-ft. of torque. Auto stop/start is included, and fortunately it’s very smooth in operation, as it can’t be switched off.
You can stick with front-wheel-drive or add one of two all-wheel-drive systems.
The basic full-time arrangement is available with Essence trim; while Premium and Avenir models get Buick’s Intelligent all-wheel-drive system with active twin-clutch rear differential.
Thanks to weight loss of about 300-lbs., more power coming from the engine, and three additional gears in the transmission; the new Enclave feels much quicker than ever before. And indeed we did get to 60 a full two seconds sooner than we did in the original, at 7.2-seconds.
It doesn’t feel exceptionally powerful, but that’s probably due the good all-wheel-drive grip at launch, and its overall smoothness as we moved down the track. The Enclave completed the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.
We quickly forgot how big the Enclave is, after a few runs through our cone course. It turns in very quickly and weight transfer is held well in check. The top tier all-wheel-drive system, with its rear torque vectoring, definitely helps it rotate into turns, as well as keep understeer minimal.
We were impressed even more when it came to our braking test. The Enclave came to a halt from 60 in just 103-feet. Stops were consistently straight, smooth, and confidence inspiring.
But the Enclave is clearly not a track animal; and in its natural environment, ride and handling quality truly is exceptional. Between Buick’s Quiet Tuning keeping interior noise levels library quiet, and the well sorted out suspension, there’s great comfort behind the wheel; making it an outstanding interstate cruiser.
The new chassis allows for a longer wheelbase, giving the Enclave more presence; while a steeper rake to the windshield provides a sleeker profile.
Avenir adds a unique mesh grille, nickel-finish trim, and 20-inch wheels to a package that looks much tidier than before, despite growing by over 2.0-inches in length from last year.
That carries over inside where you’ll find more space and a noticeably roomier feel throughout the cabin. Captain’s chairs only for the 2nd row, with a rear bench for three, standard.
With the 2nd row SmartSlide seat, access to that 3rd row is quite good for the large crossover class, and there’s adult size room for settling in; though we wouldn’t recommend it for extended periods of time.
Cargo capacity behind the 3rd row is up slightly, to 23.6 cubic-ft. Folding those seats expands the space to 58.0 cubic-ft.; maxing out at 97.6 with all seats folded.
If you can’t fit it inside, you can tow up to 5,000-lbs. of it on a trailer behind you; that’s 500-lbs. more than last year.
All-wheel-drive Government Fuel Economy Ratings improve pretty significantly as well, going from 15-City, 22-Highway, and 17-Combined to 17-City, 25-Highway, and 20-Combined. Front-wheel-drive is better still, at 18-City, 26-Highway, and 21-Combined. There’s also a big improvement for the Energy Impact Score, with 16.5-barrels of annual oil consumption and CO2 emissions of 7.4-tons.
Base pricing does sneak up a little over last year to $40,990. Passing through Essence and Premium trims, you’ll arrive at the Avenir at $54,410. Adding all-wheel-drive varies with trim level, but plan on at least 2-grand.
With all of the leather-clad SUVs out there, you’d think the 2018 Buick Enclave might have a hard time of it. But, the 3-row near-luxury crossover segment is actually pretty wide open, with plenty of space for a family hauler that’s not too pretentious and doesn’t come with a high-buck badge. Attainable luxury is Buick’s new theme and you’ll find plenty of it in the Enclave Avenir.
Engine: 3.6 liter
Torque: 266 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.6 seconds @ 91 mph
EPA: 15 mpg city / 22 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 16.5 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.4 tons/yr