By Peter Perrotta
In a previous column, I already stated my feelings about some of the pretentious names car manufacturers come up with for their exterior colors. To a similar degree, the same can be said for the names given to some of the models.
It took me a while to figure out how Kia came up with “Seltos” for a name of one of its new models – it’s the son of Sampson’s name.
Recently, when the transport company dropped off the 2020 Buick Enclave Avenir AWD, for me to test drive for one week, I was a bit puzzled about the Avenir designation written in script on the side of this large SUV.
A friend of mine opined that Avenir referred to avenue – like the old Park Avenue model Buick used to make.
As far as I can tell, Avenir is the French word for future. So this model is a distinct Enclave that represents the future – certainly not your father’s Buick.
While this Enclave Avenir checks a lot of boxes for all the right reasons, I did find it to be lacking a certain “je ne sais quoi” – French for something distinctive that makes it special.
Simply put, there is a lot to like – its spacious, comfortable, rides nice and is adequately powered – but, for my taste, I think the interior ergonomics are a bit ordinary. With just a bit more ingenuity, I think the folks at Buick could have “jazzed up” the interior accoutrements a bit to truly give it that futuristic look you couldn’t get in your father’s Buick.
That being said, there are those who I am sure would disagree with me and would find the Avenir perfectly suited for their tastes.
For the record the Enclave is available in four different models: the entry level Preferred ($41,195); the Essence ($43,195); the Premium $49,595; and the top-of-the-line Avenir ($56,100).
New for 2020 is the Sport Touring package that comes with the Avenir which features a sportier front grill, some monochromatic effects and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
The Avenir I tested came with pretty much all of the standard equipment. Added to it was a $2,095 technology package and $1,195 for destination and delivery, bringing the total MSRP to $59,390.
The technology package included adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic braking and a premium suspension with continuously variable real time damping.
The folks at Consumer Reports – who are usually pretty hard on American cars – rated the Enclave a solid 76 (out of 100) overall and an impressive 87 on the road test.
“The large, three-row Buick Enclave is a quiet, comfortable and responsive three row SUV. Power comes from a lively 3.6 liter V6 teamed with a smooth nine speed transmission,” the CR editors wrote.
While Car and Driver said a lot of nice things about the Enclave, it concluded that it was “a mainstream product with a premium price tag.”
The editors at Car and Driver reasoned that for a price tag in the upper $50,000 price range, buyers should also be giving serious consideration to the BMW, Mercedes or Volvo products.
I tend to agree with the folks at CR more. Overall, the Avenir is a large SUV that is extremely spacious, adequately powered, handles well and is solid all around.
But, are you going to impress your friends at the country club? Probably not. But, who really cares?
Besides the aforementioned attributes I likes about the Avenir, what I found most impressive was its massive interior cargo space.
As an example, the Enclave boasts an impressive 48.5 cubic feet of cargo volume compared to the BMW X5 – a model in its same price range – which only has 36.5 cubic feet.
If you want a real life example. With both the second and third row seats folded down, I was able to easily – without any struggle – load my full sized bike into and out of the rear cargo area.
Moreover, with the bike stored in the back, I took my wife shopping for new cushions for our patio furniture. With the bike still in the rear cargo area, we were still able to load eight cushions into the back as well and a few small bags of groceries.
The 3.6 liter V6 powerplant on this Enclave – the only engine offered – puts out 310 horsepower. The EPA gas mileage ratings come in at 20 miles per gallon overall – 17 in city driving and 25 on the highway.
The EPA estimates that the annual average fuel cost is $2,000 as the Enclave uses about 5 gallons of gas per every 100 miles.
The overall vehicle score on the government’s 5-star safety ratings test came in at an impressive 5 stars for the Enclave.
In the frontal crash test it received 5 stars for the driver side and 4 for the passenger. In the side crash test it got 5 stars for both front and rear seat tests. And, for the rollover test it received 4 stars.
Some of the “nice to be included” standard features on the Avenir mode include the Buick infotainment system with navigation; an 8-inch HD color touchscreen; leather seating with heated and cooled seats; power liftgate; heated steering wheel; wireless charging; rearview camera and more.
I found the ability to sync my phone, connect my music (from my iPod) and enter a navigation destination, either manually or through the voice command system, to be quite simple and easy to do.
The standard warranty on the Enclave is 3 years, 36,000 miles bumper to bumper limited warranty, with 5 years, 60,000 miles coverage on the powertrain. It also comes with roadside assistance and courtesy transportation and a complimentary first maintenance visit.
Peter Perrotta’s On Road Column appears weekly. Comments, suggestions and questions are welcome. He can be contacted at email@example.com.