NEW YORK -- The Buick Enclave, following up on a successful first generation that began when auto-makers were still dipping toes into the crossover segment a decade ago, will make a dramatic transformation for 2018, dropping nearly 400 pounds and taking on a lower, sleeker profile. It is slightly larger inside and about 2 mpg more fuel efficient than the outgoing version.
The Enclave's arrival this fall will mark the debut of Avenir, a subbrand aimed at making Buick more of a luxury player with upscale features such as an in-vehicle ionizer. It's the last of four crossovers that General Motors is redesigning this year. While the Enclave sells in lower volumes than the others, it also generates the highest transaction prices of the four.
With the Avenir version, Buick hopes to push the Enclave's prices up even more, much the same way Denali has worked for GMC. Denali now accounts for nearly 30 percent of GMC's sales.
"The success we've had with Denali clearly showed there was a big opportunity for us," said Alan Batey, GM's president of North America. With the Enclave, "90 percent of customers were taking the top two trim levels, so we knew there was more reach there," he said.
Among the Avenir version's upgrades are a rear camera mirror, a power folding third row, pearl nickel 20-inch aluminum wheels and an ionizer that Buick says cleans the cabin air while also helping to keep the driver alert.
The Enclave seats up to seven people, including three in the third row. Buick is dropping an optional three-passenger bench seat for the middle row, reflecting scant interest in that option.