2018 Buick Enclave Unmasked
UPDATE: We've now driven the new Enclave, as detailed in our 2018 Buick Enclave First Review
The all-new Buick Enclave crossover SUV introduced at a special event prior to the New York auto show is crammed with thoughtful features that will make both moms and dads go wild, but first-off we have to remark on how good-looking it is, inside and out. The previous edition Enclave was very popular, and it had a distinctive demeanor, but this new version is just plain better-looking. With a lower, slimmer body, it has great presence that puts it in good company with its import competition, and the interior is sumptuous and thoughtfully detailed.
There is a reason Duncan Aldred, vice president, Global Buick and GMC, was positively exultant as he presented the vehicle for the first time. Buick is on a nice roll globally, and the Enclave seems poised to keep that it going. “Enclave was introduced as a game-changer for the Buick brand, and has become one of our most successful and important vehicles,” he said. Now, the new 2018 Enclave takes it to the next level.
More cabin space
The new Enclave is filled with highlights. Despite the sleek body there is more third-row interior space, aided by a longer wheelbase. Towing capability has been upped to 5,000 pounds. And a first-ever for Buick rear-view camera-mirror enables visibility to the rear unobstructed by the heads and headrests that typically dot the Enclave’s cabin. Finally there is a new premium level–Buick Enclave Avenir–that we expect will do for Buick what the Denali trim has done for GMC, namely give it more prestige and panache.
Despite a longer wheelbase than the previous generation Enclave, the new version will have a turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than before, and we expect that agility to have many payoffs. The body structure was designed for safety, strength, stiffness and mass efficiency, all of which should contribute to good ride and handling. On the safety and convenience front a fully equipped Enclave Avenir will feature no less than 17 radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors.
Standard is a new 3.6-liter V6 engine delivering 302 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It will offer stop/start technology and be paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. For those who face inclement weather, the new Enclave can be equipped with intelligent all-wheel-drive (AWD) with active twin-clutch rear differential and Buick-first switchable AWD. The MacPherson strut front and five-link rear suspensions are tuned for a quiet, isolated ride without sacrificing control.
Debuting on the 2018 Buick Enclave, the new Avenir sub-brand is expected to extend across the line as the premier expression of Buick style and luxury. Aldred promised that the Enclave Avenir will offer unique styling, an extensive set of standard features and premium materials that will set it apart from other Enclaves.
For instance, the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir will feature an “Evonik Acrylite” exterior lighting system that includes the illumination of 100 LEDs. The aforementioned rear camera-mirror will be standard equipment, and for those concerned about air quality an in-vehicle ionization system is claimed to make interior air cleaner and fresher.
In terms of exterior distinction, Avenir models will feature an exclusive three-dimensional mesh grille, Avenir badging, pearl nickel 20-inch aluminum wheels and more luxurious interior materials. They will also boast a standard hands-free power-programmable liftgate with a Buick tri-shield logo that illuminates the ground below the hidden sensor (presumably so you don’t kick a snowbank or mud puddle.) As you would expect the three-seat third row is split power-folding. Second row captain’s chairs provide a convenient pass-through to the third row.
As good-looking as it is, we expect the 2018 Buick Enclave to add considerably to the model’s already impressive popularity. Further, since so many buyers already opt for top-of-the-line Enclaves we think the addition of the Avenir trim level will be a crowd-pleaser for years to come. When will the new Enclave come to a showroom near you? This fall is its expected arrival with pricing announced closer to its on-sale date.