Test Drive: 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir SUV

Courtesy Buick

We take the Avenir SUV—a safe, spacious family car with an edge—for a southern drive.

I’m crossing the Tennessee line from the Georgia side and I’m dying for a curve. I’m driving the new 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir SUV on a straight highway line that seems like it will never end. Some parts of the road resemble a truck stop, but for the most part, traffic is moving well and I’ve engaged the adaptive cruise control that keeps me centered in the lane and a safe distance from any vehicles ahead. But I’m feeling distracted. While I know everyone’s bottom line is different, I’m finding this to be a hard ride. I’ve been driving for two hours and there is another one to go.

The seat, though, is my only source of discomfiture. Buick hopes the Avenir will develop into a luxurious sub-brand much the way the Denali name has developed for GMC in the pickup truck segment. They are off to a good start. The Avenir I’m driving has a frosty white, aerodynamically styled exterior while the chestnut with ebony piping interior and wood-accented steering wheel has a horse country charm.

The Avenir SUV is a people mover with a seating capacity for seven over three rows. Its family orientation is evident from the storage space under the center console—a gift from the cable-free electronic shifter—suitably sized for a large handbag and a rear under-the-floor storage compartment that fits a stroller. There is even an air ionizer that will help with the after-practice odors often associated with school games. And with a full crew aboard, the rear view mirror can be flipped into a rear video screen that offers better visibility. I also find the rear camera useful in heavy traffic as the Avenir rides high, making smaller cars immediately behind me a little difficult to see. Safety features like blind spot alert, a 360-degree camera for low speed maneuvering, and a rear cross traffic alert help extend driver awareness as well. Road noise is aggressively minimized thanks to active noise cancellation tech that creates a quiet cabin.

Courtesy Buick

The Avenir SUV offers a 310 horsepower, V-6 engine managed by a nine-speed automatic transmission and it provides those short, quick bursts required to smoothly switch lanes. There is all-wheel drive, but a dashboard button allows the driver to opt out to increase fuel efficiency—a first from Buick. Navigation and wireless charging are standard and Wi-Fi is available.

So maybe my bottom line is telling me something. There is a rest stop ahead.  My destination is the 4,200-acre Blackberry Farm, a luxury resort north of Knoxville. I think I’ll call ahead and ask if they have any curves. $60,035 as driven. buick.com