A Flagship Sedan Worthy of the Title
While the LaCrosse has served as Buick’s flagship model since the departure of the unmissed Lucerne, GM is now giving the brand something a bit more aspirational. Debuting at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the Avenir concept is a rear-drive-proportioned four-door sedan that hints at a return to form for the marque that once produced such prestigious names as Riviera, Electra, and Park Avenue.
The Avenir, named after the French word for “future,” is a large sedan measuring 204.5 inches long and 76 inches wide with seating for four. The concept is powered by a “next-generation” direct-injected V-6 with cylinder deactivation and stop-start capability. Buick made no mention of forced induction, but given the Avenir’s size, a turbocharger or two would help it achieve a horsepower rating befitting a full-size flagship. GM happens to have a decent twin-turbo V-6 in the Cadillac CTS Vsport and new ATS-V. The Avenir’s engine is backed by a nine-speed automatic transmission, which routes power to all four wheels via a dual-clutch all-wheel drive system. Underpinning the concept is a suspension with driver-adjustable damping, and 21-inch wheels.
Perhaps more striking than the Avenir’s technical features is its styling. The cab-rearward proportions lend the car a distinctive profile, along with the raked roofline and short overhangs. The traditional waterfall grille features a horizontal bar that crosses the tri-shield emblem, a design cue Buick says it borrowed from the Wildcat II concept of 1954. At either side of the grille are slender full LED headlights. But the real action takes place in the rear. The Avenir’s back end recalls the boat-tail rear end of past Riviera models, with the trunk and bumper appearing to come to a point. A pair of wide taillights helps fill out the rear, beginning where the concept’s prominent shoulders end.
Inside, the Avenir concept gets a cabin that’s inspired by nature, according to Buick. The center stack is highlighted by a next-gen IntelliLink infotainment system with 12-inch display, which can connect multiple devices. The system can also connect to devices at home, allowing drivers to monitor security cameras or close the garage door remotely. In addition, the concept features wireless charging for mobile devices and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot through OnStar. Rear passengers also benefit from the Avenir’s technology, with seatback-mounted screens and rear USB ports for connecting devices. To keep the cabin fresh, air is circulated through an ionic filtration system.
The Buick Avenir concept is the Tri-Shield brand’s best attempt at a flagship in years, and if it makes it to production could bring respectability back to GM’s other luxury marque.