NYIAS 2017: Buick's 2018 Enclave Gets the Avenir Treatment
The second-generation Buick Enclave will be the first model in the brand’s lineup to gussy itself up in an Avenir cloak.
While Buick’s extra-lux sub-brand will soon attach itself to other models, the redesigned 2018 Enclave unveiled at this week’s New York International Auto Show serves as the vanguard of the automaker’s upselling ploy. If GMC can do it with Denali, Buick’s going to try its best to scoop up those extra bucks.
For 2018, the three-row, full-size crossover gains freshened styling that doesn’t diverge too much from the previous iteration. Riding atop the C1XX platform, which it shares with the Chevrolet Traverse, the new Enclave sees the same weight loss gifted to other products in the GM lineup. Porkiness has dropped about 350 pounds, wheelbase is up just a touch, overall height has dropped, and fuel economy has improved.
With this new Enclave, the waterfall grille that graced the front of so many recent Buicks is gone, replaced by the corporate face seen on the 2017 LaCrosse and 2018 Regal. That treatment first appeared on the 2015 Avenir show car, which became the inspiration for the new design direction and sub-brand. As such, the new Enclave isn’t quite as bulbous as its predecessor. It does, however, retain pronounced bodyside curves.
As before, there’s a single engine choice. For 2018, GM’s direct-injection 3.6-liter V6 sees its output rise from 288 horsepower to 302 hp. Torque drops from 270 to 260 lb-ft. All of this power is now more efficiently managed by a nine-speed automatic transmission, replacing the previous six-speed, while a standard start/stop system ekes out some added economy. Recreational types should applaud the increase in towing capacity — from 4,200 to 5,000 pounds.
The improvements in weight and power application sees fuel economy grow to 17 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined in front-wheel drive vehicles, while the all-wheel drive version now gets 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. That’s up 2 mpg (combined) from 2017 models.
In the interests of economy and convenience, the intelligent all-wheel drive system is now switchable — a first for the brand.
Though Buick hasn’t made the Enclave any longer than past models, interior volume has grown by 10 percent. Part of that boost in room comes from the addition of an underfloor storage space totaling 3.1 cubic feet. For those who use the rear liftgate often, Buick has added a new convenience feature — a spotlight that shines on the ground, showing the overloaded owner where to move their foot in order to activate the hands-free hatch.
All models — Essence, Premium and Avenir — gain an air ionizer. After all, even Buick occupants are not immune from lapses in hygiene. Increased sound deadening measures should lower interior decibels.
So, what about this Avenir? Buick hasn’t released pricing yet, but it can be assumed that moving up to Avenir means dispensing with a not-insignificant amount of cash. You’ll be able to tell one from outside by its glitzy, 20-inch pearl-nickel-finish wheels, special badging, and black mesh grille.
Inside is where the sub-brand tries to generate those extra consumer dollars. Avenir customers see premium exterior colors, higher-quality interiors (with embroidery on the headrest, if such a thing tickles you), a wood-accented steering wheel, and side sills emblazoned with the Avenir name. Buick plans to make damn sure that passengers know that this isn’t just a regular Enclave.
The 2018 Buick Enclave and its Avenir alter ego should arrive at dealers this fall, with pricing announced closer to the release date.
[Images: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars]
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