If one were to make a list of the things buyers are looking for in a large SUV, passenger and cargo space, comfort, safety, ease of driving, quiet interior and good looks would likely be at or near the top. The totally redesigned 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir puts a check mark in the box for all of the above.
After 10 years with nothing more than a facelift or two, the 2018 Enclave represents a clean-slate redesign that Car and Driver’s Mike Sutton says is a “marked improvement over its predecessor in every meaningful way.” Though I have not driven a first-generation Enclave for comparison, the exterior style, quiet luxurious cabin and solid driving characteristics of the new Buick offering rank right up there with those of a few of higher-priced European luxury SUVs I tested last year.
The 2018 Enclave marks Buick’s introduction of the Avenir sub-brand. Not unlike GMC’s Denali, Avenir denotes the company’s top trim level and, in the case of the Enclave, includes touches like a unique mesh-pattern grille and standard 20-inch pearl nickel aluminum wheels not available on lesser models.
The bulbous shape of the first-generation Exclave has been trimmed down and sculpted for 2018. The front end is more defined and the body lines are crisper. The new design also features a floating roof, an element that reinforces the SUV’s sleek posture.
Despite its svelte exterior, the Enclave’s cabin is incredibly spacious. With second-row captain’s seats and a third-row bench, six adults would be more than comfortable on a long road trip.
The interior space is beautifully designed and teeming with luxury features, such as heated front and second-row leather seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bose premium audio system and a power moon roof and rear skylight. I really appreciate the simplicity of the dash layout and the intuitive placement of the controls. The lack of clutter adds to the upscale feel and I felt pretty comfortable operating the car’s tech features within a few blocks of leaving the dealership.
The Enclave’s 3.6-liter engine provides more than enough power and the nine-speed transmission takes it through the gears seamlessly. And while it is no sports car, the Enclave was remarkably stable through corners, exhibiting very little of the body sway that is typical of large SUVs.
The newly introduced Avenir trim level brings with it a ton of tech and safety features. Adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking assist, 360-degree camera, lane departure warning, OnStar (and all of its safety and convenience features), navigation and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot all come standard.
The most striking thing about driving the new Enclave was how little engine and road noises make it into the cabin. Buick employs an active noise cancellation system, generous amounts of sound-deadening materials and acoustic-insulating glass in the windshield and frontside windows to keep the interior quiet and peaceful.
The redesign of the Enclave hits the mark on all counts and, with the debut of the Avenir trim level, Buick’s flagship SUV can now compete with the world’s best. ￼