As expected, General Motors (NYSE:GM) unveiled its all-new 2018 Buick Enclave at an event in New York this past week. It's the first redesign of the Enclave since way back in 2008.
As you'd expect, the new Enclave brings a slew of upgrades and new features, including the U.S. debut of Buick's new upscale Avenir sub-brand.
What's new about the 2018 Enclave?
It's completely new from nose to tail. Like its sibling, the also-all-new-for-2018 Chevrolet Traverse, the new 2018 Enclave is built on a new architecture that makes it significantly lighter -- by nearly 400 pounds -- while adding cargo space and legroom, particularly in the third row.
It also sports a completely different look, more angular and stylish than the outgoing model's rounded shape -- but more aerodynamic for better fuel efficiency, Buick officials in New York said.
The new 2018 Enclave's interior carries Buick's core theme of "attainable luxury" upward, particularly in premium trim levels. As with other Buicks (including the outgoing Enclave), noise reduction was a key consideration in the new Enclave's design, driving the choices of interior materials and active noise-cancellation systems.
The usual array of high-tech safety and convenience features are available on the new Enclave, along with a novel new one: Upper trims include a new air ionizer that (Buick says) helps keep the Enclave's interior air clean and odor-free, with no need to replace a filter.
All 2018 Enclaves come with GM's well-regarded 3.6-liter V6, mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. In the Enclave, that V6 makes 302 horsepower, enough to move the Enclave down the road briskly -- and enough to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Why it's important: A big-profit entry in a big-selling segment
Unless you've been living somewhere far away for the last few years, you know that crossover SUVs are the hot vehicle category right now, and upscale crossovers are selling especially well. While the Enclave sells in smaller numbers than GM's Chevrolet and GMC crossovers, it's important because it generates higher average transaction prices (and likely higher profit per sale).
The new Enclave aims to build on that. It's targeting a spot further upmarket than its predecessor, and further upmarket than GM's new Chevrolet and GMC crossovers. Buick is targeting Honda's Acura MDX, Audi's Q7, and Nissan's Infiniti QX60 as the new Enclave's competitive set. The Buick brand may lack the status of Audi, but good products can elevate a brand over time -- and the new Enclave has the potential to give Buick's reputation a boost.
Buick's new Avenir sub-brand is aimed higher still, with distinctive interior and exterior styling and features similar to GMC's Denali sub-brand. Over time, the Denali sub-brand has become a significant profit generator for GM; GM is hoping to see similar results with Avenir.
Your humble Fool spent some time in and around a pair of 2018 Enclaves in New York this week. My takeaway: GM may have hit a home run here. All of GM's new crossovers have been impressive, but the Enclave might be the most appealing of the bunch.
What will it cost?
GM hasn't announced pricing yet. The outgoing 2017 starts at just over $39,000. I expect the new one to start a bit higher -- with prices for the upper trim levels, including the new Avenir version, extending well above the current Enclave's upper limit.
When will it go on sale?
GM said the Enclave will begin arriving at dealers in the U.S. this fall. Unlike most other Buicks, the all-new Enclave will not be offered in China -- at least not right away.