2018 Buick Enclave Avenir
Like most of my vehicle reviews lately, my stint with the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir begins at LAX. With a 10-hour flight behind me, and an almost two-hour trek through LA traffic in front of me, I made my way through customs and immigration, picked up my suitcase and made my way out to the shuttle area. This is the only time I have flown from Scandinavia to Los Angeles and traded a warm, sunny Stockholm for a (relatively) cold and wet LA. Sweden was experiencing an unusually warm May, and Southern California was in the midst of a weirdly cool and wet mid-May.
As the shuttle driver made her way through the LAX mish-mash of cars, limos, shuttles, and police I wondered how my coming drive on the entire 105, and majority of the 605 might shape up in these damp conditions. Arriving at the car park I was greeted by a Buick Enclave. But not any old Enclave. No, this is the top-of-the-line Buick Enclave Avenir, with the word “Avenir” nicely adorning the front doors in an artistic signature-like italic font.
The first thing to do when picking up a new vehicle is, of course, to set up all the vehicle dilly-dallies so that they work with you, and not against you. The seat is easily adjusted to a comfortable position, even if no manufacturer (including Buick) in my opinion has created a lumbar support that actually pushes your lower back out far enough to really force my back into a straight position. Usually, I find myself slowly gliding into a classic, not-so-great, slouched posture.
Elegance and utility. Ease and functionality. Buick, believe it or not, once again delivers an outstanding product.
Other items on the adjustments-to-do list are of course the mirrors and steering wheel (electrically adjusted steering wheel column, yay!). Lately, as in the last ten years or so, more and more technological gadgets need playing with before a maiden voyage. You need to hook up your phone (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available) and decide if you like being close to, or far away from, the car in front of you when the adaptive cruise control is active. Next up, radio stations! Set your favorites to the easy access buttons, both for your FM and SAT channels. If you are like me, however, this is superfluous, since I prefer to play my own Spotify playlists from my phone through Bluetooth and out through the car speaker system (Bose Premium Sound System, yay!). Aa added bonus is the fact that my phone will charge when I lay it on the wireless charging pad in front of the shifter knob. Nice!
This list can, of course, go on and on, but to keep this short and sweet, let’s just say that I spend a good ten minutes in the parking lot figuring things out. The good news is that the Buick infotainment system, as well as all the other knobs, are really easy to understand. Without having to get the handbook out I managed to set up all the technological doodads without much ado.
Exiting the parking lot I immediately notice the ease of steering. The steering wheel is so easy to turn that you might forget that this is a large SUV you’re turning. Cruising around shopping mall parking lots is a one-handed endeavour, and with the help of all the cameras, you have a great view of where the Avenir is and where it is heading.
“Stick your hand out the window, under the mirror, and you can ‘grab’ the car!”
– anybody in an Enclave with the Surround Vision active
On that note, the Surround Vision system included in the Avenir does a good job of helping out. The nifty system projects a top-down view of the car, much like the GTA of 20 years ago, so you can see the entire car from above. A friend of mine commented on the fact that we are sitting in a dark Enclave, yet the one in the picture is white. We assume that Buick chose to use a white car as their “this is you”-car since that will show up best in dark conditions without hindering the system’s usefulness during daytime.
Here’s a trick you can do whenever you are in a car with a Surround View system such as this. Locate the side camera, it is usually under the side mirror, stick your hand out the window under said camera and find your enormous hand on the screen. Use your hand to “grab” the car.
Driving around in LA traffic can always be made more pleasant by doing it in a nice car. As you might have guessed, the Buick Enclave Avenir is a luxury SUV. So, it goes without saying that this is an above-average car to be stuck on the 405 in.
As Tested: $57,135
310HP @ 6,800 rpm
266lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm
The 405 is never fun, but sitting on a couch-like leather seat, surrounded by a nicely appointed interior with wi-fi and a very powerful air conditioner makes it a bit more bearable. Sitting up high, as one does in an SUV, has, as always, the added bonus of being able to see well ahead and anticipate the traffic. Usually “sitting up high” also means that you will experience significant body roll. Well, this is no sports tourer, but it handles predictably and feels stable even when cornering at higher speeds.
The Avenir has the Buick “Intellibeam Auto High Beam Control” which is meant to make it easier for the driver by automating the switching on and off of the high beams. In areas where you are alone on the road, and it actually gets dark, this is a great tool. Bustling around LA and Orange County, however, I never turn the high beams on.
Our particular 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir was loaded with the Avenir Technology Package which included the Adaptive Cruise Control full-speed with stop/go, Forward Automatic Braking (replacing the low speed forward automatic braking), Premium Suspension Package Trailering Equipment, and a heavy-duty cooling system. The Adaptive Cruise Control is something that once you own a car with it, you will never want to go back to a car without it. It is really easy to get used to having the car adjust your speed to the speed of the car in front. It is also a very handy feature for freeway driving during rush hour since you can let the car do most of the “stop&go”-work.
The Forward Auto Braking system did surprise me once though. Mr Avenir did not think we were going to make it through a tight corner in a Taco Bell drive-through so it decided to stop the car. It caught me off guard, and probably the guy behind me as well. But hey, I’d rather have the car stop before I might hit something rather than let me know afterwards that “yeah, I saw that coming”…
The Bose Premium Sound System sounds good, and man is it loud! I was amazed at how loud it was already at the halfway mark on the volume control, so I’m not sure who has the audial capacity needed to “crank it up” all the way.
Last but not least, one cannot review the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir without mentioning the asphalt-logo (not necessarily what Buick calls it). At night, when you approach the parked Avenir it projects a Buick logo onto the road under the rear bumper. At first, I thought this was something that the designers and engineers had thought up late some Friday evening, but then it dawned on me; this might show me where to wiggle my foot to open the back. Yep! Move your foot over the projected logo, essentially inscribing the Buick logo onto your shoe for a second or two, and Pronto! the power tailgate will open!
By John-Fredrik Wright
For more information on the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir check out Buick’s website: www.buick.com