With the stingy Texas Tech defense keeping Gonzaga from scoring at key moments of their Elite Eight showdown at the Honda Center on Saturday, the Red Raiders accelerated past the Zags as if outfitted with a 2019 Buick Enclave Avenir’s 3.6-liter, V6 engine. The front-wheel-drive, nine-speed automatic rides as smoothly as Davide Moretti’s stroke nailing three pointers for Tech. The third-seed Red Raiders knocking off the West’s top-seeded Zags, 75-69, is akin to the Enclave Avenir outperforming its SUV class-leading Volvo XC90.
OK, so it’s really difficult to combine a car review with an NCAA men’s basketball tournament story, so perhaps it’s better to describe how a new Enclave Avenir got me to Anaheim for the March Madness contest.
The answer: in style.
The Ebony Twilight Mechanic paint job and tinted windows made it seem as if I should be ushering a president, a dictator or a dictator-president to the game. Alas, it was just my pal Tom.
The ride is a midsize luxury SUV, but it feels as if it has the inside room of a full-size, even with three rows of leather-appointed seating. Those seats–my test ride’s were two-tone chestnut and ebony–can carry up to seven riders, with four in the front and second-row bucket seats, and three more in the rear bench seat.
Given the Enclave Avenir’s smooth ride, you sink into the front seats, which are power adjustable eight ways for the driver and six for the front passenger. Both front seats can be automatically heated or ventilated, the second-row seats can also be heated, and the 60/40 split-back seats a power adjustable for folding up or down. If only my Honda Center seat, which gave me flashbacks of airline middle seats, was this comfy.
So, yes, the ride was quite comfortable from Costa Mesa to Anaheim, whether it was in stop-and-go traffic on the 55 freeway before the 5 freeway, once it was wide open after that or during city driving conditions along Katella Avenue to the arena.
The 310-horsepower engine pushed out enough power to make getting around slow dribblers a breeze, just like Red Raider sophomore Jarrett Culver snaking around Zag defenders to … uh … never mind. As you’d expect from the smooth engineers at Buick, the shifts between the nine gears was barely detectable. But what most struck me while driving was how solid the vehicle felt overall given its size.
The absolutely freakiest thing about driving it involves the rear-view mirror, which is actually a rear-view camera monitor in the shape of a rear-view mirror. This gives a wide view of what’s behind you as you back up or drive forward. I must confess that it took some getting used to–especially the first time I took the Enclave on the freeway and could see all four lanes behind me. It is also amazing, at a stop sign or light, how much detail you can see inside the car behind you, which reminds me of this question to other drivers: Pick a winner?
I told my wife that perhaps the car lords are preparing us to watch images on screens in time for the self-drivers, which means commercials flashed on the rear-view mirror cannot be far off. Honestly, by the time my engagement with the Enclave Avenir was over, I’d come to appreciate the rear-view camera, especially when combined with the rest of the Surround Vision tools that provide angles from the front and overhead, which are especially helpful when parking.
The safety feature which I do not believe I will ever get used to–since first experiencing it in a Volvo years ago–is the collision alert system’s whoopee cushion-like buzzing of the driver’s hindquarters. It did make me more aware of a row of cars very close to my right on a narrow street and the collision alert system and I did enjoy a cigarette while snuggling afterward.
Airbags all around, front pedestrian braking, lane-keep assistance, Intellibeam automatic headlights, rear-cross traffic alert, a following-distance indicator, front and rear parking assist and lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert are among the standard safety features. The Enclave Avenir got five stars overall in government safety ratings.
Creature comforts include an infotainment system with available SirusXM satellite radio that you control from the steering wheel or on an eight-inch diagonal touchscreen in the middle of the dash, which also displays navigation, the SUV systems and other pertinent information. It’s also app-, OnStar-, Apple Carplay-, Android Auto- and 4G LTE hot spot-capable. Wonder if I can get the scores of the Final Four games?
The EPA says the Enclave Avenir gets 18 miles to the gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined, and its smog rating is six out of 10 (10 being best) while its greenhouse gas rating is a four.
For this $55,345 luxury midsize SUV–which only included as extras a $650 trailering package and a $1,195 destination charge–Buick offers a four-year or 50,000-mile (whichever comes first) limited bumper-to-bumper warranty, six years or 70,000 miles on the powertrain and a complimentary first maintenance visit.
That’ll be me watching college hoops in the service center lobby.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.