What the experts say about the 2018 Buick Enclave

Two editors and a dealer weigh in.

The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir.
The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir. –Buick

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2018 Buick Enclave

Redesigned for the first time since its launch a decade ago, Buick’s flagship, seven-passenger SUV has gotten the star treatment. Now at dealerships, the 2018 Buick Enclave is the first in the brand’s lineup to carry Buick’s new luxury sub-brand: Avenir, French for “future.” Designed to help the wilting, 114-year-old Detroit brand compete with its German and Japanese luxury counterparts, Avenir models come with an updated chrome grille, premium finishes, and an imposing presence that can dwarf most mass-market rivals. But even the Enclave’s three lower trims have gotten a new look and more muscle, fashioning the dependable three-row crossover into a veritable luxury vehicle.

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The new powertrain underpinning the 2018 Buick Enclave — a 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter, V6 engine mated to a smooth-shifting, nine-speed automatic transmission — ensures a smooth and relatively nimble ride on highways and twisting backcountry roads. Available in four trims — base, Essence, Premium, and Avenir — the new Enclave reveals a more dramatic stance, with a lower roofline and longer wheelbase and extensive use of LED headlights and taillights. The Avenir badge is marked by its three-dimensional mesh grille and six-spoke, pearl-nickel wheels, among other upscale flourishes.

The SUV’s spacious cabin features Buick’s infotainment system with an 8-inch color touchscreen, the brand’s active noise cancellation technology, six USB ports, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. The new model increases interior space by 10 percent, including a storage compartment hidden in the floor. The Avenir comes with stitched leather upholstery, a wood-accented steering wheel, and chestnut and ebony trim.

The 2018 model hasn’t been tested by either of the federal ratings agencies. Last year’s model earned top scores in crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A rearview camera and rear park assist come standard. Additional driver assistance features, including rear cross traffic alert and lane keep assist with lane departure warning, are available.

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Boston.com Dealer Specials:

The Enclave delivers 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway for front-wheel-drive models. Fuel economy drops slightly for all-wheel-drive models, to 17 mpg around town and 25 mpg on the highway.

The 2018 Buick Enclave begins at $40,970. The Essence and Premium trims start at $45,210 and $49,010, respectively. Enclaves with the top-of-the-line Avenir badging begin at $54,390.

The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir’s interior. —Buick

What the experts are saying

New look

“It’s been a decade since the Enclave debuted, so this first major redesign of this premium three-row crossover SUV is welcome indeed. The Buick Enclave benefits from a longer wheelbase and as a result, it has greater interior space, a more usable third row, and a comfortable ride. The range-topping Enclave Avenir also sports a distinctive grille and richer looking colors exclusive to the trim level on the interior. Smartly positioned between traditional luxury vehicles and more mass-market offerings, the Buick Enclave Avenir offers both an air of sophistication and a competitive price.” Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor at KBB.com

Understated luxury

“Three-row crossover SUVs are becoming a staple among many carmakers, yet there aren’t many models that bridge the mainstream and luxury gap. Buick wants to fill that space, and garages, with the 2018 Enclave. The second-generation Enclave features an all-new body structure made with a blend of sophisticated steels for a more rigid and responsive feel. But don’t think Buick’s gone ‘sporty.’ The Enclave is stable enough in turns, but its real strengths lie in a classic Buick formula: quiet comfort and mid-grade luxury. A 310-horsepower, V6 engine generates the power to carry seven passengers or tow up to 5,000 pounds, while upscale interior design and materials ensure you’ll barely feel or hear it breaking a sweat. The second-row seats tilt forward and slide, offering easy third-row access even with a car seat installed. The 8-inch, high-resolution display seamlessly integrates into the sweeping dash line. There’s even a simple push-button emergency brake instead of more typical, and confusing, push-pull switches.” – Dan Frio, automotive editor at Edmunds

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Advanced technology

“The all-new 2018 Enclave brings with it the luxury and refinement we have come to expect from Buick. Similar to the Denali line offered by GMC, the Avenir is the pinnacle of the lineup, a high-end trim that offers a unique interior and exterior flair with 20-inch wheels. It also offers a surround vision system with a full camera display in the rearview mirror, making ‘blind spots’ a thing of the past. Standard features that our Buick customers have come to expect are the Bose premium surround speakers; heated and cooled seats; and Buick’s heated steering wheel with power telescoping technology.”– Bob Masse, general manager at Paul Masse Buick GMC South in South Kingstown, Rhode Island