Buick just so happens to be growing like a weed. Sales are up globally, and it's rolling out entirely new models like it's no big deal. Starting with 2018 vehicles, prospective buyers will be able to spend even more on a Buick courtesy of an Avenir trim.
The upscale "sub-brand" will effectively be what "Platinum" is to Ford and "Overland" to Jeep – a suite of cosmetic touches that make the vehicle look, smell, and feel better. Buick has found that 90 percent of Enclave buyers splurge on one of the top two trim levels, and as the economy continues to pat itself on the back, the customer base is more willing to spend.
As for what you'll get when opting for Avenir? "A three-dimensional mesh grille, large-diameter wheels, and unique trim finishes," alongside "unique seat details, modern trim materials, and Avenir script identification."
The automaker's remaining mum on which vehicles will be first to take advantage, but we were given a glimpse at the design language to come during its 2017 Portfolio drive in California.
The Avista concept coupe, pictured above, showcases a far more modern adaptation of Buick's existing aesthetic. This one's been a big hit, garnering praise from just about everywhere – we're guessing that some of the more lauded aspects may make an appearance in a production vehicle.
The here and now
It's perhaps most interesting to visualize how an upscale interior would fit in the company's existing cars, which we were able to drive earlier in the week. We've already put a stamp of approval on the 2017 Buick LaCrosse, and we've now had a fair amount of time behind the wheel of the Envision and Encore.
Both sit squarely in a market that's booming; as Ford as seen with Escape and Explorer, SUVs are en vogue once more. The Encore is the smaller of the two, offering a fairly unique proposition. With most bantam SUVs, you generally forgo luxurious appointments. The same could be said for the mid-sized Envision, which is an entirely new entrant that'll sit between the aforementioned Encore and the I've-got-room-for-seven Enclave.
In talking with Stuart Fowle, Brand Communications Manager at Buick, he noted that the company was doing well in drawing folks upmarket. In other words, those who were previously driving a lower-end SUV see Buick as an attainable luxury.
But the real opportunity sits at the other end of the spectrum – finding folks who have spent entirely too much on a Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Audi, and showing them that a similar level of luxury can be had for far less (and with far more approachable service departments).
They'll face stiff competition from the likes of Acura, Lincoln, and Ford's Titanium/Platinum trims, but should do quite well in China. (According to Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick Sales, Service and Marketing, Buick is the number three automaker in all of China, and it even sells a few automobiles there that aren't available elsewhere.)
Both SUVs offer Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay, are outfitted with 8-inch touch panels, and ship with a 7-speaker Bose sound system that punches above its weight in terms of power and clarity. Higher trims offer adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and lane keep assist, and we're surmising that amenities like these will be standard fare once Avenir hits the market.