2018 Buick Enclave Avenir AWD Review

Dressed to maim


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Very good driving manners for something this big, upscale trim bits change the look more than you'd expect, ample space for six.
Negatives: Luxurious in a GM sort of way, third row only good for two adults, controls have dinky fonts.
Bottom Line: The Enclave is an excellent American crossover made that much better in Avenir trim with more standard features and a more sophisticated exterior look. We like that it can fit six in real comfort rather than trying to stuff eight into it. It drives remarkably well, and is very well built. Too bad Lexus doesn't make anything this good for six at the same price.
The Enclave Avenir borrows styling from the Avenir concept sedan, largely the grille and headlights. The redesign of the Enclave comes at the right time in a hot segment that aims for greater levels of style and luxury. The regular Enclave already looks far better than the first-gen crossover it replaces, and the Avenir trim level aims to be even more upscale. We drove it for a week to see if it would live up to our expectations as a more refined version of itself. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

7.7

 

The new Enclave drives better than the outgoing model, and our AWD tester benefitted from an upgraded rear axle that manages torque between the wheels and aids in handling.

Ride Quality: Cushy and comfortable without totally disengaging you from the road. It managed all road surfaces well.

Acceleration: The V6 is strong and responsive, and the 9-speed automatic works well. 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds is more than respectable. Throttle response was good, too. Our tester's adaptive cruise control was wonky and accelerated hard when set and was abrupt with braking at the last minute. A bit harrowing. Probably a hiccup on our car and not endemic to the model as a whole.

Braking: Progressive braking that had no dead spots or sponginess. Braking distances are good and fall midpack in the segment.

Steering: The electrically assisted steering setup is a good one. Though there's little feedback, turn-in is pretty quick and effort has some heft.

Handling: The Enclave actually weighs a little less than its Chevy Traverse brother, and it manages body roll well.

Technology

6.6

 

Buick's technology isn't bad as far as visibility and total features are concerned, but some of the controls need work.

Infotainment System: There's an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi. Graphics are good but more visually attractive than functionally easy to use. There's also a 4.2-inch color display in the instrument cluster that provides helpful driving information. The 3D surround view camera is a huge plus.

Controls: We would've like larger buttons on the steering wheel (there's enough space), and the font on most of the buttons is just pointlessly small. Older customers with compromised sight will be frustrated.

Styling

8.9

 

With the Avenir concept car's styling elements used on the new SUV, the look is far more put together than the last Enclave. In actual Avenir trim, it's that much better with some upgraded bits.

Front: The wide grille gets a dark mesh, and tasteful use of chrome in the fascia results in a balanced look that's very attractive and upscale.

Rear: A well balanced tail prevents the Enclave from looking too thick. The long chrome bar that bisects the taillights is a nice touch.

Profile: The long sloping roofline gives it elegance, and though we hate faux front fender vents, these are done quite tastefully. The blackened C-pillar helps give the car a streamlined look, but to us it's a bit forced.

Cabin: Abandoning some of the suffocating feel of the LaCrosse sedan, the interior is more elegant and airy. There are some noticeably cheap components that look and feel plasticky, though.

Comfort

8.6

 

There's ample room in the Enclave, especially in the first two rows, and the overall comfort level is quite good.

Front Seats: Well-cushioned, but they could use better bolstering. Buick seats tend to be a bit lacking in this area.

Rear Seats: The captains chairs are very good and both slide and recline. Very well done. Two medium-sized adults can fit in the third row but not for too long. This isn't really a 7-passenger vehicle. More like six, unless the last row occupants are all kids.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Build quality feels very good, and the cabin is very quiet, even at high speeds. Very Buick-like.

Visibility: Overall visibility is good, but the rear sightlines are compromised because of the thick D-pillar and the uptick at the edges of the rear window.

Climate: The 3-zone climate control worked very well, and the system can cool and heat very quickly. Good heated seats, too.

Safety

8.6

 

The new Enclave hasn't been tested by the IIHS, but the NHTSA gave it top scores. In addition, our top Aveniur trim level offered a solid set of safety features.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: The new Enclave attained top marks in crash testing, earning it the five star crash safety rating.

Standard Tech: Our Avcenir tester came with a huge set of tech, including forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert, 360 camera, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, low speed forward auto braking, and front pedestrian braking

Optional Tech: The Enclave came with teh Avenir Technology Package, which adds Full-Speed Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Automatic Braking.

Storage/Cargo

9.6

 

The cabin has good storage options in the center console and armrest, and the cargo section is more than respectable when it comes to gear hauling.

Storage Space: The compartment under the center stack is good for small items, and the armrest is huge, great for keeping daily gear out of sight.

Cargo Room: There's 23.6 cubic feet behind the third row and a big 97.6 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded flat. The load area is very flat, which is great for tall items. The cargo space is bigger than both the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90.

Fuel Economy

7.5

 

The 310 horsepower V6 falls in the middle when it comes to fuel economy. The numbers are about what we expected for something with this level of power. Owners should be more than happy with the real world numbers. The EPA numbers pretty much mimic the ones from the V6 Audi Q7.

Observed: 19.2 mpg

Distance Driven: 138 miles

Driving Factors: We drove it in sport mode most of the time, and our miles were evenly split between local road and highway travel.

Audio

8.2

 

Our Bose premium audio system was very good and thankfully came as standard equipment on our Premium tester. The sound was clear and full with plenty of good bass and no distortion.



Final Thoughts

Buick wants to do better here than it's doing now, and the Enclave Avenir is one way things will improve for the brand. Not only is it styled properly (unlike the previous Enclave and the previous LaCross), it drives better than you'd expect a vehicle of this size would. The level of comfort and refinement in the cabin are excellent, though there are some improvements that could be made, none of them dealbreakers. The real question isn't whether or not the Enclave Avenir is very good, but is it worth paying almost $60K for? You'll have to decide.

Buying Guides

Featuring Buick Enclave

2018 Best New Crossovers

Shopping for a new
Buick Enclave?

(844) 801-8526
Call our vehicle experts for
assistance with your research.