2018 Buick Enclave Avenir AWD Review – Peeling Back a Veneer of Luxury
TTAC - Steph Willems - May 24, 2018
I could have told the guy “71 extra pounds.” Then again, maybe “$5,400 more” would have been a better response. Both of these figures are correct, but it’s the latter that best answers the question, “What’s an Avenir?”
The passer-by who accosted me — in a friendly manner, thankfully — outside my residence hadn’t seen the word “Enclave” on the back of the big, white Buick I had parked outside, but I assume he knew the model and wondered what the **** an Avenir nameplate was doing on both front doors.
“Okay, you know Denali…?” I answered. The rest isn’t hard to imagine.
Basically, like GMC’s luxury sub-brand, “Avenir” is a great way to squeeze extra cash out of an existing model, I told the guy. Had I consulted Buick’s website before tailoring my response, I could have said it’s “the highest expression of Buick luxury.” I like my answer better.
In Canada, where the two of us stood chatting next to this blinding, three-row crossover, it’s a $6,000 walk up from the formerly top-end Premium trim to Avenir, which stickers for $61,900 before delivery. Americans get theirs for $54,495 before a $995 destination and freight charge. (Tack on an extra $2,300 if all-wheel drive — standard on Canadian Enclave Avenirs — helps you sleep at night.)
I should add that White Frost Tricoat, which elicits a Clint Eastwood-like squint from all who venture near the Avenir’s gleaming bulk, is an extra $600 (USD).
Random human interactions aren’t all that common with the fairly pedestrian vehicles I test, but what made this convo odd is that it wasn’t the first that week. After parking on a side street few days earlier, a guy jumped off his porch to enthusiastically inquire about the largest vehicle in Avenirdom. He also tried to sell me on a detailing job, the crafty bugger.
So, what does this “expression of luxury” actually bring to the table, besides strange men? In raising the price and content ceiling on the redesigned-for-2018 Enclave, Buick saw fit to visually differentiate the Avenir from lesser trims, adding a black honeycomb mesh to the grille and lower opening, glueing the aforementioned script to the front doors, and shodding it with chrome 20-inch wheels. These are subtle differences, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a five-bucks-under-$40k base Enclave across the parking lot.
Inside, rich, “Chestnut” leather abounds, perforated on the front seats, with Avenir stitching found on the headrests and floor mats. The word also migrates to the sill plates. To instill that drawing room feel, little bit of what once used to be a tree appears on the steering wheel.
One flaw I noticed right away was three loose threads on the leather-wrapped wheel, all located between the 2 and 4 o’clock position. Let’s hope a previous driver had long nails and a nervous habit, as it’s not an encouraging sight in a top-end vehicle with less than 5,000 miles on the odometer...
...There’s another question to ask. Is the Enclave even capable of raising its status with the addition of a higher trim? That’s a tough one. We’ve discussed Buick fairly frequently on these pages over the past few months, and while some feel the brand is too disorganized, too far from its past to resonate with the 2018 buyer, and too incapable of raising eyebrows or pulse rates, it really comes down to the individual.
In my experience, at least a couple of people looked on with something approaching envy. Maybe they were just blinded by the light.
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"Some silicone sister With a managing mister Told me... "
- Manfred Mann