• 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

Road Test: 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

Luxury Touches in Buick’s Full-size Sedan

It has been ages since I spent any length of time in a new Buick. My last long-term experience was a 1999 Regal GS, with the supercharger, which was their most powerful car at the time. It was a good car, outfitted with all the upscale appointments at the time and delivered a stable, comfortable ride. So, when the opportunity arose to drive the 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir, I was intrigued at where Buick was now with its large sedans, a vehicle size they are well-known for.

What is Avenir?

Avenir is the new sub-brand for Buick, that “provides customers a way to experience the highest expression of Buick luxury.” The LaCrosse joins the Enclave, offering a choice between a sedan and a SUV in the early stages of the Avenir brand.

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

With the Avenir sub-brand, Buick finally moves back to premium–or is it luxury?

Clean Fleet Report is careful to toss around the “luxury” tag, as “premium” is a better description for most cars reaching for that next level of elegance, appointments and style. So where does the LaCrosse Avenir fall between these two descriptions? Well, certainly premium, and then we will leave it to your opinion if it makes the leap to luxury.

After a week in the 2018 LaCrosse Avenir, we are impressed how Buick seriously raised the bar on all aspects of the car. Buick has taken the LaCrosse and created an upmarket version that is stylish—inside and out. Buick has done right by its flagship sedan.

Driving Experience: Performance

The front-wheel drive 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir comes with a 3.6-liter V6 and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The 310 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque gave strong performance at any speed and demand. Our 0-to-60 times were an impressive 5.4 seconds with a very respectable 40-70 mph time of 3.8 seconds. In other words, the LaCrosse Avenir does nicely on the open road.

The EPA rates the Buick LaCrosse Avenir fuel economy at 21 city/30 highway/24 combined. In 459 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, Clean Fleet Report averaged 26.6 mpg. However, in a 100-mile highway run, with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we achieved 35.1 mpg, and in another 125 highway run at 75 mph we averaged 33.2 mpg.

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

The Avenir turned in good fuel economy for a large car

It is important to note that the fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific. They represent the reviewer’s driving experience, but should be similar to most drivers living in our reviewer’s cities. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains, spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.

Buick has designed the LaCrosse Avenir with a stiff chassis that handles impressively for a large 3,838-pound car. The steering has a natural feel, with good road feedback, aided by electronic stability and traction control, and MacPherson struts that are paired with 19-inch alloy wheels and 245/45/19 Goodyear Eagle Touring tires. The little body roll that was felt, as well as any pushing, came only on the tightest corners or high-speed freeway onramps.

Design Details: Exterior

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

Expressiveness lands at Buick

Buick says the 2018 LaCrosse Avenir, which was first introduced in 2016 as a concept car, is “the highest expression of Buick luxury” that offers a “distinguished exterior.” Our take is the exterior design did not depart far off the concept, retaining a 3D honeycomb grill and a wide stance. The articulating, high-intensity discharge headlights wrap onto the fenders. The grill design reappears on the one-piece, lower fascia bookended with LED lights. The sides are smooth with a very tasteful chrome strip on the lower doors, the classic Buick signature portholes and subtle “Avenir” badging. The attractive 19-inch Pearl Nickel wheels were the perfect compliment. The trunk lid has an integrated spoiler, while the LED tail lights sit wide above the dual, chrome exhaust tips. This

design resulted in a 0.30 Coefficient of Drag (Cd) to aid slipping through the wind.

Design Details: Interior

 The interior welcomes you to slide into the comfortable seats, covered in chestnut or black leather, with “Avenir” embroidered on the headrests. The perforated, power-everything seats, for both the driver and passenger, included memory, lumbar, heat and ventilation adjustments. The driver also gets a massage feature. The large and easy-to-read gauges, with a black background and white numbers, are laid-out with convenience in mind. We particularly liked the programmable head-up display. Soft touch materials abound, and the limited use of chrome accents add a touch of class. The tilt-sliding power moonroof and power rear sunshade let the driver choose as much, or little, of the outside elements to let in.

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

The new lap of Buick luxury

The rear seats can accommodate three, but for longer road trips two would be recommended. The seats themselves were supportive and comfortable, with good headroom. The split-folding 60/40 rear seat also had a fold down armrest, with cup holders, that when folded flat, became a pass-thru for longer items. The 110-volt outlet on the rear of the console was a convenient feature. The all-weather, rubber floor mats were a surprise (as they are usually only found in trucks and SUVs) and did their job collecting whatever sand, dirt and debris we dragged into the premium interior.

The very quiet LaCrosse Avenir cabin came from triple door seals, acoustic-laminated windshield and side glass, and active noise cancellation, which made sitting inside the LaCrosse Avenir a welcome experience. The best thing to do with all that quiet is to turn-up the 11-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround-sound infotainment system. The frameless 8.0-inch high-resolution color touch screen housed the GPS navigation system and the AM/FM/CD/MP3/AUX radio. Features include an USB slot and a 12-volt power outlet, SiriusXM (three-month subscription), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Siri Eyes Free and the voice activation worked well. The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel has mounted controls for Bluetooth for hands-free telephone use. General Motor’s handy and helpful OnStar system is included for one-month with the basic plan, as part of the MyBuick Connected Access program.

A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly General Motors representative to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. The most common requests are for directions, to handle emergencies and general assistance. This is one area where GM is the industry leader, and after the basic plan expires, it is well worth renewing for the peace of mind you (or maybe your child or spouse) will always have when driving your LaCrosse Avenir. For faster Internet speeds there is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, which came with a limited-period subscription. Depending on how much you travel and your data use, the 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot option should be seriously considered. Our experience is it was fast and provided uninterrupted service, even for streaming movies and games.

Convenience

Our LaCrosse Avenir came equipped with wireless phone charging, power tilt and telescoping steering column, adaptive full-speed-range cruise control, heated steering wheel, power windows with one-touch up and down, programmable power door locks, keyless/remote start and entry, passive entry system, power and heated side mirrors with turn signals, dual zone automatic climate control, and reading and ambient lighting.

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

The quiet seat

Safety

The 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir has safety features of a rear vision camera, 10 airbags, four-wheel power disc ABS braking system, tire pressure monitoring system and a compact spare tire. Additional safety systems include automatic parking assist, forward automatic braking with forward collision and front pedestrian alert. Also standard are rear cross traffic alert and a first aid kit.

In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir received five stars (their highest rating) for overall crash protection, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded its top rating of Good.

Pricing and Warranties

Clean Fleet Report’s 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir base price was $44,870. With the optional Driver Confidence Package #2 ($1,690) the MSRP came to $46,560. All prices exclude the $925 destination charge.

The 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir comes with these warranties:

Powertrain                         Six years/70,000 miles

Roadside Assistance        Six years/70,000 miles

Corrosion                           Four years/50,000 miles

Free Maintenance            First two visits: oil and filter, tire rotation, multi-point inspection

Observations: 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

As Buick’s flagship model, the LaCrosse and the upscale LaCrosse Avenir accounts for about  14,500 in sales annually. While this number is down over the past few years, (as are sedan sales figures for most manufacturers), it is still the best-selling Buick sedan. In a day and age of the crossover and SUV, Buick obviously has done something right, as some consumers continue to want a LaCrosse or the LaCrosse Avenir.

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

Buick rides into the luxury market–and brings fuel economy along for the ride

Effortless power from the smooth V6 and a seamless-shifting transmission, good handling and a solid road feel make the 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir a very pleasant car to drive. The well-appointed interior is comfortable and welcoming. The 30 mpg EPA highway rating was encouraging, but we exceeded that number.

If you are in the market for a large sedan, the LaCrosse Avenir could be an alternative to a premium SUV. Take a chance and visit your local Buick dealer and see for yourself.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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