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High-class 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir aims at luxury SUV rivals Featured

Jan 14, 2018 Hit: 444 Written by 
The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir is a roomy SUV that seats seven comfortably.
The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir is a roomy SUV that seats seven comfortably. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

With some auto brands, there’s often debate about how to classify them. With Buick, the debate centers on whether it’s truly a luxury brand (like fellow GM stablemate Cadillac) or something less -- perhaps more of a premium brand that’s more plush than Chevy but not quite at a Cadillac level.

Either way, it’s really all semantics. Because in the end, what matters is that a vehicle is well-built, performs well and looks great. And with the vehicles Buick has been putting out in recent years, they are certainly meeting that expectation.

I recently spent some time in Buick’s largest SUV -- the three-row Buick Enclave, which can be considered the crown jewel of the Buick lineup -- and I’m back with a full report.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir
  • Price as tested:: $59,435
  • Best feature:: Upscale design, powerful engine; quiet and comfortable interior
  • Rating:: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Families looking for an impressive upscale three-row SUV


LOOKS

Getting a complete overhaul for 2018, the first in a decade, the 2018 Enclave features has increased interior space compared to the previous version.

The 2018 Enclave (especially the top-level Avenir model) features a beautiful interior and an attractive, sleek exterior. It fits the “Is this a Buick?” storyline of their latest ad campaign very well, as you’ll instantly notice that it stands out compared to previous models.

The Buick brand (which is more highly regarded as a luxury ride in China than it is in the U.S.) is showing more of its high-end self in recent years, as the brand tries to shed its U.S. reputation as a vehicle for older people and drive down the average age of their buyers.

The Enclave’s supple interior features leather-appointed seating, and is comfortable for seven people (though the rear seating is best for kids or smaller adults). The third row is easily accessible too.

Comfort features inside include: Third row power-folding seats; heated and ventilated front seats (both driver and passenger); heated second row seats; plus tri-zone climate control. You also get a ton of storage space in the Enclave.

A booming Bose premium audio system is offered, you get a heated steering wheel; wireless charging is offered, plus there are USB ports, a 120V outlet, and seat memory.

All in all, the Enclave’s Avenir offering can hold its own with any luxury SUV on the market in terms of looks and design. Buick is clearly grooming Avenir to become a name in the luxury industry, like Denali is to GMC. Expect to see the label on other Buicks going forward.

HOW’S THE RIDE?

Getting right to the numbers, the 2018 Enclave is powered by a 3.6-liter, V6 engine; which is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It offers an impressive 310 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but AWD is optional (and I would recommend it).


This is a big vehicle to get moving (and it weighs over 4,300 pounds) so you’re not going to be zooming around NASCAR style. But it’s got a powerful engine and thus offers impressive mobility for and handling for the class. It’s a quiet ride across the board, especially on the Avenir trim level, with little to no road noise intruding.


The Enclave’s max towing capability is 5,000 pounds. Max cargo load is 1,625 pounds

My only complaint on the operation of the Enclave is the less than user-friendly electronic shifter, which takes some getting used to.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

GM is known for loading up on the tech and safety features, and the Enclave gets it all, though unfortunately much of it is only available on top trim levels.


My test vehicle featured: Keyless start/keyless entry; Front and rear park assist; Following distance indicator; Forward collision alert; Rear cross traffic alert; Lane keep assist with lane departure warning; Lane change alert with side blind zone alert; Front pedestrian braking; and Surround Vision. You’re covered in almost every scenario with all this safety gear.


On the Avenir only, there is a tech package that features: Adaptive cruise control; Forward automatic braking (replaces the low-speed auto braking offered on lower trim levels); and a premium suspension package and trailering equipment.

OnStar is also offered, with all of the safety features and directions assistance that comes with it.
The Infotainment system is focused around an 8-inch touchscreen and limited knobs. Navigation is offered and worked well in my testing.

The Enclave is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, keeping it up to date with the competition on phone mirroring. Operating the infotainment system by touch was a breeze, and the voice recognition was impressive too.
A 4G LTE hotspot is offered on the Buick if you want a wireless connection in your vehicle.

MPG
Official fuel mileage numbers on the Enclave are 17 city/25 highway/20 combined. In my testing I averaged 19.1 mpg. This number is a bit lower than I’d like to see, and is beaten by some other premium/luxury SUVs of this size (Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Volvo XC90).


PRICE

My test vehicle was about $60K, but you can see why -- it was a top-level Avenir edition with AWD. The 2018 Enclave starts off around $40K. There are four trim levels, topping out with the Avenir.

BOTTOM LINE

Buick’s reputation should continue to rise in the U.S. if they continue to put out excellent products like the 2018 Enclave. It’s one of the most well-put together vehicles I’ve tested in a long time and also very practical due to its size and space.

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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