2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir
Words & photos by SekouWrites
On the way back from Saratoga Springs, a tractor-trailer pulled alongside our Buick LaCrosse Avenir and honked the horn. We thought this was an expression of typical New York road rage but when I whirled around to shoot him the evil eye, he started pointing at our car and nodding his approval. Ohhh, okay then, I thought, smiling. This continued for a good 10 miles while Mr. Rig Driver alternately sped up and slowed down in order to examine the LaCrosse from every angle. Finally, to give him a better look at the inside, I dramatically pressed the button to open the overhead power moonroof and when the sun hit the interior, the rich, chestnut wood and burgundy leather interior glowed brightly, almost radiant. He looked, shook his head, gave a last thumbs up and drove off.
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.
The Avenir line is pretty special to begin with. Created in 2015, Avenir is technically a sub-brand of Buick that’s super sexy. I added the “super” because even a generic, run-of-the-mill Buick is sexy these days. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but for the past few years, Buick has been running a very successful “that’s a Buick?!” campaign which highlights the fact that Buick has quietly turned itself into a low-key luxury brand. Nowhere else is this more evident than in the Avenir line. In fact, the word “Avenir” means “future” in French and these vehicles are clearly the future of the brand.
Plus, some of the features are downright futuristic. From the subtle cell phone slot that wirelessly charges your cell phone to the heads up display which shows your current speed and other essential driving info on the windshield directly in your line of sight, the Avenir LaCrosse feels very, well, Black Mirror-ish.
Obviously, these were a few of my favorite features but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the seat massager built into the front seats (!), the roomy back seats and trunk space as well as paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Another fave was something really simple: The paint job. Our test drive car was painted Dark Slate Metallic, which, depending on the light, looked alternately black, silver or green. Even dry and dusty from the long drive, the paint shimmered so much it that the car appeared wet.
The best thing about the LaCrosse Avenir, however, was its optional self-parking feature (Automatic Parking Assist). I deliberately gave it a whirl under stressful conditions by engaging the parking assistant on 25th Street in the middle of Manhattan, with cars piled up behind me. I expected to get honked into oblivion but the LaCrosse slid me into a parking space quickly, without incident. In case you’ve never experienced automated parking before, this is how it works inside the Avenir LaCrosse: You press a button on the dashboard and the car starts scanning the right-hand side of the road for a space big enough to fit into– no more guessing if you’ll fit or not! Once it finds one, you’ll get a prompt telling you to shift into reverse. The car will do all the steering and provide a tiny bit of momentum. Your job is to shift and make sure you brake when the car tells you to. No stress parking, even in midtown Manhattan.
On the con side, I thought the LaCrosse side view mirrors were too small– I get that it’s supposed to make the car feel sporty and it definitely does. Out in the stunning wide open spaces of Saratoga Springs, this worked very well but in Manhattan, where you never know what’s coming, I think you need bigger mirrors for more visibility. The other thing that needs some tweaking is the cell phone slot. I loved the idea of it. Just push your cell phone vertically down into a tiny gap in the armrest and let it charge wirelessly. Thing is, there’s no way to keep other things out of the slot, or remove them once they are in. Case in point. An almond with a mind of its own jumped out of our snack bag and dove right into the slot. We tried several times, but we never got it out and it kept our cell phones from fitting snugly into the space. Maybe Buick needs to add a trap door at the bottom. Either that or you’ll need to keep some chopsticks handy.
Overall, the Buick LaCrosse Avenir is a gorgeous and capable head-turner that looks just as comfortable in the Big Apple as it does in Saratoga Springs. I’d be happy to keep in my garage or drive it to the local golf course.
Just the facts:
- The 2018 LaCrosse Avenir we tested is available now. The 2019 model should be hitting dealers by the end of 2018.
- The 2018 model starts at $44.5K and has most of the features baked in except for a few options like pedestrian detection, front automatic braking, and the aforementioned parking assist. Our test drive model had all of the above and was priced out to $47,485.
- MPG: 20/30, City/Hwy
- Sidebar, the LaCrosse Avenir comes with one month of free OnStar. I love OnStar. Once you’ve had it for a month, you’ll never want to give it up. When I asked the live OnStar representative to route me to a hotel, he asked if he needed to make reservations for me. Love it. It’s like having an assistant in your car.