Avenir Sub-Brand to Grow Across Buick Lineup

Launched last fall on the new-for-2018 Enclave crossover and extended to the LaCrosse large sedan, Buick now is making noises that the Avenir sub-brand will extend across the lineup, potentially landing on every model it sells.

That didn’t take long. Less than three months ago, we reported Buick brand boss Duncan Aldred said, in reference to Avenir, “We’re not going to force it,” while speaking at a media event near Detroit. It must be tempting to do so, however, when the brand looks across the showroom to see Denali trucks helping push the GMC brand to a record average transaction price north of $55,000.

“As a premium brand, we reach up into luxury and down into mainstream and Avenir is the way we go toe-to-toe, I think, with some of these Tier 1 luxury brands,”Aldred told Automotive News during the Detroit auto show. “You’ll see Avenir roll out across many more models and maybe the whole range over time.”

The Denali sub-brand was allowed a significant gestation period in the early 2000s before it migrated to other models. It was offered exclusively on the Yukon SUV for a solid two years before appearing on the Yukon XL and Sierra. In doing so, it arguably allowed the trim to exceed expectations because it was permitted to grow slowly rather than immediately be pinned to everything the brand built.

In contrast, it has been about four short months since the first Avenir-badged Buick rolled onto dealer lots.

Those with long memories will recall the short-lived C3 trim which preceded Denali on the Sierra. Machines with Denali badging garner a younger and more affluent audience than conventional GMCs, do not disrupt the Cadillac Escalade’s success, and more thoroughly differentiate it from its bowtie brother. Buick seems to be trying the same trick with Avenir.

For 2018, an all-wheel drive Enclave Avenir stickers at $56,795, representing a $5,400 walk from the Premium trim. Its littlest crossover, the Encore, currently tops out at $38,120 with a check-all-the-boxes AWD Premium example. Will the market bear a $40,000-plus Encore Avenir?

The sub-brand’s prospects are greatest, of course, in China, where Buick enjoys a healthy market share and brand image. The Monroney for an Avenir version of the GL8 minivan, shown below, starts at 449,990 yuan (about $70,300). That’s nearly double the price of a base model and 10 percent more than the next trim down from Avenir.

Is Buick jumping the gun with Avenir if it apply it across the lineup? Perhaps. I’m not sure a Regal TourX Avenir would sell any faster than the rate of glacial progression. This author does enjoy the thought of a cushy Buick, and sincerely hopes Mr. Aldred’s interpretation of “over time” is sufficiently lengthy to give Avenir a chance to ingrain itself into the public’s psyche. A stand-alone premium trim, after all, is a terrible thing to waste.

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