2018 Buick Enclave Avenir: First Drive30
I had just graduated high school when the first-generation Buick Enclave rolled off the line, in 2007. It wasn’t long before my mother leased one to replace her GMC Envoy XL, as she needed something spacious enough to cart around our family of six when the occasion struck. That’s of course to say nothing of her incredible gardening hobby that took advantage of the fold-flat rear seats. She enjoyed the Buick Enclave enough to get another one when her first lease was up. Over the span of those 10 years, Buick saw the first-generation Enclave cosmetically refreshed once. The CD player and faux ventiports persevered. Counterintuitively, the Buick Enclave continued to vault upwards in sales through the latter half of its lifecycle, from under 30,000 units in 2007 to a record high of 62,300 units in 2014 here in the United States. The Enclave remained a success, and helped change the face, and perception, of Buick through those 10 years. The rest of the lineup followed in its footsteps.
It’s not farfetched to say that the Enclave is the most significant vehicle Buick has launched in the new millennium thus far. It wasn’t a second coming of a Regal GNX, nor did it leverage the crowds of the more traditional audience that prefers the boaty Century and LeSabre to the coming of the crossover. It entered a new frontier, and was welcomed by large upper middle class families in flocks. Soon after, it was a posterchild for the still-ongoing, refreshingly consistent (if not a little cheesy) “That’s a Buick!” ad campaign. In the midst of all the welcoming allure, Buick also spawned a practical lineup, now with three crossovers that account for 77 percent of all brand sales here in America. It all started with the Enclave.
In the legacy of the first-generation Enclave, the all-new 2018 Buick Enclave has one important mission: Don’t f*ck it up.
With that being the unofficial mission, the 2018 Buick Enclave retains a familiar size and shape. 3 rows, for seven passengers. The second-row bench seat makes way for more premium captain chairs across all trim levels. This is fitting because not only was the take rate less than five percent for the second-row bench, but the Enclave also saw it’s upper-end trim levels make up roughly 90 percent of total sales volume. This in turn motivated the Buick team to send the Enclave a few more notches upmarket, including a higher MSRP with the newly introduced Avenir trim level, ($56,690).
What does the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir provide us, over all things? Seven seated serenity. The entire car feels designed, engineered and built around that phrase. There isn’t anybody out there who, after driving one, thinks the 120-inch wheelbase SUV is either loud or crude. If so, they’re lying. The wind noise? Even quieter than before. The seats are noticeably relaxing. A bumpy ride is absent. The 310 hp, 266 lb-ft 3.6L LFY V6 is even more hushed, and its stop/start system is as seamless as it gets today. Best of all, the 9-speed transmission is barely noticed, save for a few low speed agitations. For now we’d call them outliers.
Seeing as this is a family vehicle, the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir comes equipped with six USB ports, a 120-volt outlet, an OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and five years of the OnStar Basic Plan (at no additional cost). Other technologies include an industry-leading myBuick app, which helps owners keep tabs on their maintenance schedules, as well as being able to unlock/lock and start the 2018 Enclave remotely from a phone. And for the first time ever in a Buick, there’s an integrated cabin ionizer in the Enclave Avenir. While it’s no HEPA filter, its charged emissions of ionized particles will cling to various allergens and odorous materials, at which point they won’t be part of the floating air anymore.
this connectivity plan features OnStar Smart Driver, an opt-in service designed to help owners maximize their vehicle’s overall performance and (based on an all-too-vague framework such as speed and acceleration/braking methods) become better drivers. There’s also Teen Driver, Rear Seat Reminder, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Safety features are a long list, highlighted by seven airbags, ultrasonic forward and rear cross traffic alert, the safety alert seat, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The expensive safety tech will always be good. But an aware and skilled driver will always be better, and cheaper, in our opinion.
In terms of fit and finish, the Buick Enclave Avenir ranks somewhere above its 2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Country cousin, but below the rank of something like an Audi Q7. But the German can be much more expensive, so one could say it’s apples and oranges. The interior comes off as inoffensively modern and sleek, with the touch screen embedded straight into the dash serving as the main centerpiece. Pretty much everything that somebody would touch regularly is well textured and confident to the touch, but points have to be docked for a headliner that seems to have come from ten years ago, and real wood shouldn’t be this hard to ask for in a vehicle that scrapes sixty grand. I’d voice about how the Enclave Avenir should also have something of a stronger engine than the updated 3.6L from the last-gen model, but I know I’ll be outvoted as that’s not why people buy this thing. Then again, the LFY V6 didn’t come off as overly lethargic or protesting under the weight of the vehicle and the duress of my right foot. Simply put, it was sufficient.
The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir we tested also came with a GKN-sourced twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system, as seen on vehicles ranging from the Ford Focus RS to Range Rovers. This system cleverly modulates torque sent to either rear wheel in the name of grip, which will come in handy for those family trips to Marquette during the winter, while making use of its 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity. Unhitch that trailer, and the 4,300+lbs Buick Enclave Avenir handles well enough to the point that it calls the lower-slung and surprisingly athletic (yet slow-selling) LaCrosse into question. It simply drives smaller than its proportions suggest. This was made evident as it spent hours ebbing and flowing through the nearly mystic pavement noodled throughout northern Georgia and into South Carolina. No, it’s not a performance SUV. It’s just wonderfully compliant. This was perhaps the biggest surprise from our brief experience with the 2018 Buick Enclave. We knew the cabin was going to be hushed. We knew it was packed with a suite of technological conveniences. Now we know the handling is proportionately as well done as everything else.
With the strong familiarity in my mind of the outgoing Buick Enclave, and how well it served as a premium multi-tool for a family of six, it would have been easy for the new vehicle to misstep hard into another direction and miss the allure of why people people bought the original one in the first place. With the mission clear, the 2018 Buick Enclave has improved upon every facet that made the old one such a sales stalwart. And with the addition of the Avenir, the nameplate has all of that is necessary to gracefully ascend to new heights. They definitely didn’t f*ck it up.
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Buick really did their homework on this new Enclave . And for them to add the Avenir trim to it’s line-up is a stroke of genius . They watched GMC ‘s success with the Denali and seen the strong sales numbers for nothing more than specific trim that worked , cha-ching $$$ . Its so ingrained now in peoples lexicon that those GMC vehicles are known as simply
” it’s a GMC Denali ” whether it’s a Terrain , Sierra and even the Acadia .
Buick consumers are really brand loyal so there is no reason that the Avenir won’t be on their shopping list .
So why is GM advertising 20% off right out of the gate? Isn’t too early for the fire sale?
That’s only on the 2017s? And it’s getting near end of the year?
Avenir trim line is nice if you like brown, and only brown interior. I like choices ! BTW, Buick…where is the black leather option ? Shale is way to light to work for anyone with kids or wears jeans, dark galvanized is just fancy word for grey and is nowhere near as dark as the pictures on Buick’s site show, and then there’s Brandy…with the word generally meaning a form of dark red, is actually brown. So disappointed in Buick’s interior choices, they continue to leave something to be desired in interior design.
This is what people want in 2017.
All black interior? Please, so 90s. Finally we have luxurious color choices.
So it appears they didn’t F it up as you mentioned in the article…Surprised you did not end the story that way.
Why didn’t you say I like choices…. As long as they are black.
Buick sold 5,243 of the new Enclave as that’s just below the 5,961 mark of Cadillac’s very successful XT5 CUV which means the Enclave is very well accepted by the consumer; it’s just a shame that Avenir badge can’t include a bit extra in performance like the LGW Twin Turbo 3.0L V6 used by Cadillac’s CT6.
Was interested in the 2018 Enclave until I found out that the engine stop/start function cannot be turned off by the driver. Idiotic. It might save a miniscule amount of fuel under very specific conditions, while subjecting the engine and starter to thousands of extra cycles, turning off when you pull into your garage or a parking space only to turn on momentarily then off again when you select Park, may or may not keep the interior at the selected temp when using A/C, etc. Read the forums; very few people love this “feature”.
Fortunately for those who still want this vehicle but don’t want stop/start, you can install a small device that tricks the computer into thinking the hood is unlatched, or simply disconnect the hood latch sensor, which disables the stop/start function.
I’ve experienced GM’s start-stop system firsthand in a rental, and it was awful enough to cross any such system without an override off my list.
If the system thinks the hood is unlatched, you can’t use the remote start feature though. Also, I would think it would chime in with a “hood open” alert every time you drive the vehicle?
Not sure about remote start, but the maker of the device says remote entry, alarm, etc. all work and that the only indication is the “hood open” light which goes out after a few seconds. He’s tested/installed it on a Traverse and XT5 and not specifically an Enclave though.
Don’t know what happens if you just disconnect the latch sensor.
Which vehicle did you experience it on?
Probably didn’t event try it. The GM system is pretty solid.
Chevy Malibu 1.5. I’ve also test driven two different 2017 Lacrosses
You clearly have no idea how these start/stop systems work. It is not the same as doing a complete shut down of the engine but at this point, if you’re not going to actually read up on it, it’s probably not worth taking the time to explain to you.
You are the one who clearly has no idea how it works since the whole point of stop/start is to shut down the engine so it’s not using a tiny amount of extra gas every time you come to a stop. It’s in the name, STOP/start, in case you didn’t catch that.
From Autoweek, March 28, 2017: “As the name implies, automatic stop/start shuts off the engine instead of it idling at a stop and then rapidly restarts the engine when you want to drive away. Automatic stop/start systems do present engineering challenges. The electric starter that was designed to fire your engine a few times a day now has to start the same engine every time the car comes to a full stop.”
Please enlighten us as to how you think stop/start doesn’t stop the engine.
Can you provide a link to where this device can be purchased? I search, I can find one for Chrysler vehicles, but not GM or Buick… I gotta defeat this stupid feature.
The person that makes them is named Tom Mills at [email protected].
Unfortunately, Consumer Reports is probably going to rip it a new one with complaint about the ongoing use of “hard plastics” on the lower dash and doors. Then, with a stroke from the same pen (or keyboard, if you prefer) with which they ripped the Enclave, they’ll praise the new Toyota(s), Acura(s) and Honda(s) for their “refinement”, while deliberately and selectively ignoring their use of the same hard plastics in the same place(s) GM and other U.S. manufacturers place it.
I DONT Buick’s fooked it up with the new Enclave. I do think however that they should put whatever that’s standard on the avenir trim and put it as options on their middle to lower end trims. I understand they want to have exclusivity for the avenir trim but again some people don’t want to settle less
What happened to my comment about the Electronic Precision Sh*t.
Well anyway, it’s sad to see another model gain this uselessly over complicated device. While it gains another shiny electronic device that is liable to fail, its loses ease of use and long term reliability.
So you must’ve think any car with a joystick/push button or dial style transmission is liable to fail?
There’s nothing wrong with push buttons or dial selectors as long as they’re designed properly for the driver. The electronic gear selector in the Enclave, with reverse requiring you to shift up from P to N, then over to R, is not as intuitive and user-friendly as PRND. Many of the professional reviews state as such, and Autoweek called the shifter “chintzy”.
Consumer Reports, 26 November, “We also found the Enclave’s gear shifter challenging to operate. In particular, it’s tricky to find and engage Reverse. We often found ourselves revving the car in Neutral rather than selecting Reverse, a mistake that can be dangerous, especially on a hill where the SUV can roll. Park is activated by pushing a button atop the shifter—again, making a common exercise take more effort than is necessary.”
Because you don’t know any better, you dismiss any new technology, and you’re afraid of learning about anything new.
Really, you’re a clone of your parents who dismissed your color television sets and your hi-fi record player as needless flashy unreliable junk.
Manoli, did your mother upgrade to the 2017 model year?
Not with all of us moved out of the house, no.
The reviewer xtates5thst the Avenir doesn’t have real wood. At the auto show where the vehicle was unveiled, the presenter stated the wood is real. Also, on Buick website it states the wood is real.
GM is one of the few companies with such lack of attention to detail, that even the few times real wood is used it looks chintzy.