Buick’s brand has always been about quiet comfort … what marketers like to call aspirational living. If the vehicle was a performer, like the new Euro-thrusty Regal, it was a grower, not a shower. If it was a well-equipped SUV like this Enclave, it felt more country golf club than flashy downtown multiplex cinema. Those clumsy comparisons may help explain how GM maintains both the Buick and Cadillac luxury brands. They compete but only partially.
The Enclave is the largest and best appointed of Buick’s SUVs. Avenir is a premium trim that Buick offers only to two of its sedan and this SUV. A French verb, avenir translates to the future — aspirational, mais oui? If you don’t live in the suburbs or aspire to travel to the country a lot in the near future, it may be too big. When I was skiing with my kids and their friends most winter weekends a few years back, it would’ve been ideal. Parking it in the city, including my own constricted parking pad required patience. That said, it provided a pleasant week in quiet understated comfort, and it comes standards with front and rear park assist.
With the opening bid at nearly $62k, the 2019 Enclave Avenir comes well stocked with pretty much anything a gentleman could want. Take the connectivity features: wi-fi via Onstart, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, satellite radio, all via an 8” colour touch screen, among others.
Teen driver is your kid’s driving conscience-to-go, offering the owner the ability to monitor and even restrict some of their kids’ behaviours, plus report cards on their driving habits.
Such a big vehicle requires that V6 engine. In winter, you’ll welcome the remote start if you’re a sensitive orchid-like me who thrives amid the other quiet comforts. Same goes for the power handsfree liftgate (aka rear door). The clever acoustics dampen the noise of the engine so well as to disguise its power.
So, appropriately, the drive itself is quiet, comfortable and smooth. For diverting performance, try the Regal instead. This is big and soft, if surprisingly powerful when needed. But if you do want a big SUV, chances are you’re looking at the safety features. It checks a lot of boxes: the names, “low-speed front automatic braking” and “front pedestrian protection” are self-explanatory — maybe you should put the phone down. But if the teen driver feature caught your eye, they’ll pad the list of reasons for a test drive.
Should we already have mentioned it comes with that Canadian essential, all-wheel drive? AWD’s so popular these days that perhaps we should raise the subject only when a vehicle doesn’t have it. (Anyone else miss rear-wheel drive?) This test was conducted during the winter of 2019 when, for weeks on end, you could skate across much of Southern Ontario. The Avenir trim includes 20” aluminum wheels, the tires of which gripped easily.
Inside, it’s all about the comforts. My wife loved it. Heated and ventilated leather front seats keep tushies Goldilocks “just-right” in all kinds of weather. The heated leather-wrapped steering wheel keeps fingers functioning through the cruel months.
Embroidered headrests give an old-world travel feel. But the Bose premium speakers, working in tandem with the Buick Quiet Tuning package, both standard at this top trim, engulf you in your own personal ultra-modern concert hall. Bang your head against the embroidery.
The premium experience extends throughout, pampering all. So, the rear seats are heated too. The power-folding third-row back seats are almost comical in their pandering to the lazy. Allergic germophobes will love the ionizing air cleaner but may be reluctant to fully enjoy the power-sliding dual-panel moonroof.
Standard Price: $62,900
As driven with extras (none mentioned above) and destination charge: $67,120.