Buick Goes Upscale With The Enclave Avenir – Forbes – Forbes

General Motors

The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir arrives in dealerships this week.

Buick’s latest attempt to punch above its weight has just hit the road.

Sporting a black chrome grill, wood-accented steering wheel, and a stitched leather interior, the first Buick to wear the brand’s new high-end Avenir badge has arrived, with a second on the way.

The Avenir name, a dose of sporty luxury meant to help Buick compete against BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and other premium automakers, debuts with the brand’s flagship vehicle, the three-row Enclave SUV. Starting at $54,390, the 2018 Enclave Avenir “points the direction for our design language all the way down through the rest of the entries for the brand,” said Bob Boniface, director of Buick exterior design. “So it’s a natural place to start. And there will be other Avenir entries as well. This isn’t just one and done.”

French for “future,” Avenir first garnered fresh attention for the centenarian brand two years ago when it was shown as a concept at the Detroit Auto Show. Boniface confirmed that another model bearing the Avenir badge will launch by the end of the year.

The new, bolder trim – akin to Buick’s sister GMC brand’s Denali – aims to elevate General Motors’ longstanding mid-market brand and help fashion a more modern image. The bold, three-dimensional mesh grille serves as Avenir’s hallmark while elements such as the curvilinear daytime running lights and six-spoke, pearl-nickel wheels speak to its sporty aspirations.

“The pearl-nickel is a really expensive paint finish, and it does different things in different lighting conditions,” Boniface said. “We didn’t have to do it that way. It wasn’t a pragmatic approach. It was an emotional way of doing things. That’s what luxury is about.”

Buick is betting that philosophy will appeal to Enclave buyers, who are the most likely of its customers to buy the highest trim level. Nearly half of Enclave customers buy the top two trim levels, which tend to run more than $50,000, according to spokesman Stuart Fowle. “So just in terms of the customer base, those are the ones already demanding something a little higher,” Fowle said.

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