2018 Buick Enclave Avenir Review: First Impressions
Buick is doubling down on luxury with its new Avenir sub-brand, and the first model in the automaker's lineup, the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir, made its debut Tuesday night ahead of the 2017 New York International Auto Show.
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Avenir models will get specific styling features inside and out, including a dark-tinted 3-D mesh grille, unique wheel designs, and different colors and materials for the interior including softer perforated leather upholstery. These changes give the Enclave Avenir more panache than the standard Enclave. This is especially noticeable with the grille; adding the wings to the grille's design helps to incorporate the Buick badge into it. On Buicks, the badge looks isolated and awkwardly prominent.
Supple interior materials make the Enclave Avenir feel more like a premium offering. A large real-wood trim piece changes color to black as it heads toward the center console to better match the piano-black controls. It's a subtle touch that makes a difference. The center console buttons have been updated as well, with one big change: The new multimedia system with its 8-inch frameless screen loses a tuning knob, a pet peeve of our editors.
What caught my attention more than the upgrades, which make the Enclave Avenir nicer, are those that make it more functional. It starts with the second row, which in the Enclave had a tilt-and-slide function for easier third-row access. That's been enhanced in the Avenir with the ability to tilt-and-slide the passenger-side second-row seat with a forward-facing child-safety seat installed. This is a feature that it shares with the Mazda CX-9 and the Volkswagen Atlas, though the Atlas can do it on both sides.
Buick says the second row's sliding track is longer, adding flexibility to the interior's legroom and creating more space for third-row passengers (if they can get the second-row folks to share the legroom). The seats in both the second and third rows are still a little too close to the floor for my taste, causing my legs to rest off the cushion. This could induce some fatigue on longer trips.
The third row also gains a pair of USB ports (charging only), which brings the total number of ports to six. There's also a 12-volt port in the front row and a 120-volt household outlet in the center storage bin.
The big question about the 2018 Enclave Avenir will be pricing. If the Enclave Avenir is priced like a top trim level for the Enclave, it could be successful. But if it stretches even higher into luxury territory it will be hard for potential buyers to pull the trigger — especially if those family-friendly updates are found throughout the model lineup. The Enclave Avenir will arrive in dealerships this fall.