2018 Buick Enclave Avenir: China Makes An American Car Great Again

Buick. It’s a name rich in automotive heritage. Founded in 1899, Buick is the oldest American automotive brand still in existence. Buick received a patent for the first overhead valve engine in 1904. It was the first company to become part of General Motors in 1908, a year in which Buick outsold all other brands in the US, even Ford.

As part of General Motors, Buick was given its place in GM’s brand hierarchy. Buicks were for customers who were well off financially, but not rich enough to afford the top-ranked Cadillac brand. Buick customers wanted a car that was less flashy than a Cadillac, but still a step above a Chevrolet or Pontiac. Buick became known as “the Doctor’s car,” reflecting the owner’s status without attracting unwanted attention.

Over the years, Buick has made some memorable cars: the classy Roadmaster and Century of the 1950s; the European-inspired Riviera of the 1960s; the huge Electra 225 of the early 1970s; and the high performance turbocharged Grand National and GNX of the 1980s. Buick had some great hits.

The Buick Magic Stopped Working

Then something went wrong. Buick became identified as the “old man’s car.” Baby boomers, many of whom grew up riding in a Buick driven by Dad, wanted nothing to do with this solid but stuffy choice. The European brands called to them. BMW, Saab, and Volvo became the new upscale family cars. No one under retirement age would think of visiting a Buick showroom.

Buick Finds Salvation In The East

As it was declining in the US, Buick was growing another market – in China. Buick has always been a popular car in China. Before World War II, one in five cars sold was a Buick. Buicks were always highly regarded there because the last emperor, the first president, and the first premier of China used Buicks as their official vehicles. The stage was set.

Buick started producing cars in China in 1999. Fast forward to today, and China accounts for the vast majority of Buick’s sales. In 2016, 1.18 million Buicks were sold in China; in the US, 2016 sales totaled about 230,000. Quite a difference!

China is the reason that Buick still exists, post-GM bankruptcy. This means that China calls the tune on what Buick produces. This brings us to the new Buick Enclave Avenir, a car perfectly suited to the Chinese market – and coincidentally, one which should work out well in the American market. The Avenir model represents a new, higher level trim, perhaps Buick’s attempt to finally challenge Cadillac.

An Extra Level Of Luxury

Buick’s decision to place more emphasis on SUVs back in the early 2000s was a smart one in both of these markets. Americans have been turning to SUVs in larger and larger numbers, but these vehicles are even more valued in China. Chinese businesspeople buy luxuriously appointed SUVs and minivans to as mobile offices and meeting places. These vehicles allow them to conduct business even when stuck in Chinese cities’ gridlocked traffic. The Enclave Avenir is equipped well for this role, with comfortable seating for seven and these features on the US model:

  • 20” Alloy Wheels With Pearl Nickel Finish 
  • Chestnut & Ebony Interior With Contrasting Seat Piping & Stitching 
  • Wood-Accented Steering Wheel
  • Heated And Ventilated Front Seats
  • Navigation
  • Dual Moonroof 
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • 360-Degree Surround Vision Camera System For Easier Parking 
  • Rear Camera Mirror That Eliminates Blind Spots 
  • Available Adaptive Cruise Control & Automatic Braking 

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir – Built Here, Made Possible By China

The new Buick Enclave Avenir should be a successful model, both here in the US and in China. It meets the needs of both markets for a spacious and luxurious utility vehicle. The US model will be built in Lansing, Michigan.

About The Author

Stephen Fogel

Stephen follows the global automotive industry on a daily basis, including new model announcements, new technologies, sales trends, and the latest in "green" cars.