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A Look Into My 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir

LIFE UPDATE: Life seems to be moving at warp speed lately. Maxwell turned six months last week.  How this child has just celebrated half a year in the world is beyond me. Work has been busier than ever and feeling truly blessed to be able to have a career that allows me to work and spend as much time with the baby as I do. I actually have some cool new projects in the works that I can’t wait to share with all of you. I’m also back in the gym working my butt off to reach the goals I’ve set for myself post baby. Sold my first investment property a couple weeks ago and pleasantly happy with the outcome (profit). I’m now working on developing a plan to expand my real estate portfolio. Oh, and I also upgraded my car and said goodbye to my 2017 Envision earlier this month because the new 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir is on a whole other level when it comes to luxury, functionality and convenience.

 

Can you imagine being able to remote start your car, locate it in a packed parking lot or check how much fuel you have before you leave the house from an app?  What about not having to fumble with your keys to lock/unlock to the doors or get access to the truck? Wouldn’t you love to be able to charge your smartphone without needing a charger? Have you ever wanted full 360 visual access to the exterior of your car for safety or to helping you look like a boss when you’re trying to parallel park in the downtown core?  How awesome would it be to only have the cleanest air running through the cabin of your car at all times keeping your family safe from germs and viruses? If you think this sounds like the future, you’re wrong. This is what you can get in a 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir, plus SO. MUCH. MORE.

I got a sneak peek of the vehicle at its unveiling during the New York International Auto Show last spring, but the presentation barely scratched the surface when it came to all the features unique to Buick’s new range topping Avenir sub-brand. So what exactly makes the Avenir different from the rest of the 2018 Enclave models? The name, signifies an elevated trim design that can be equated to the Denali trim available in GMC vehicles, and is the Enclave’s most prestigious model offering available with unique interior and exterior treatments. The new exterior design is far sleeker and 2 inches longer than its predecessor, but I believe its the luxe design treatment inside that takes people by surprise. The contoured dashboard, woodgrain details, leather wrapped steering wheel, 8 inch colour display in the centre cluster, the Avenir logo etched into the headrests, floor mats and sill plates are all proof of the continued hard work Buick is doing to reposition the brand.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

I’ve never thought of any car I’ve owned in the past as just something that gets me from point A to B. All my vehicles in the past have reflected my personal style and I was proud to say I was the owner of a ______. However, this is the very first time I have truly been in love with a car and can’t stop talking about it to basically anyone who will listen.  Actually, anyone who has gotten a chance to ride in it with me gets out in disbelief, refusing to believe its a Buick. Some of the features have been highlighted on my Instagram stories but I literally have to hold myself back from raving about it every day in fear I will come across as inauthentic.

In less than a month, this my Enclave has become a critical part of my life and helps make even my craziest of days like today more bearable. With my hands perpetually full juggling everything under the sun for both myself and the baby, I’ve come to love the conveniences of some features like the Enclave’s Foot Activated Lift Gate that allows me to open and close the trunk by hovering my foot over the Buick logo that illuminates the ground below the hidden sensor. I also no longer stand outside in a cold parking lot, digging through my bag for my keys to unlock my doors. I think its pretty amazing l that I can simply press the unlock button on the door handle or use the MyBuick app (available for both Apple and Android), which also allows me to start the engine ensuring the temperature is perfect for Maxie before we even get in the car. I use this at least once a day usually before leaving the house in the morning or after wrapping up a meal or meetings. And let me tell you something, I’m not trying to ever go back to that cold car commute life.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

Working on the go has never been easier. The wifi hotspot literally turns the car into a mobile office, not only for myself but my passengers as well. Six USB ports throughout the vehicle, two per row, makes sure nobody is fighting for over who gets to charge their tech devices first, which sometimes happens when you have a creative team rolling with you on shoot day. Plus, I no longer have to worry about transferring that one iPhone charger I have back and forth between home and the car, thanks to the wireless charging station that is compatible with the iPhone 8.

While getting people or cargo into the back of a three-row utility vehicle is usually a nuisance, the Enclave Avenir is designed with a second row SmartSlide seat that provides easy access to the rear of the vehicle. Located on the passenger side, the SmartSlide captain seat provides pitch slide functionality to allow access even with a forward facing child seat (without the child of course) or car seat base installed using the LATCH system.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha
All smile after a quick feed and diaper change in the spacious rear cabin

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

When you’re responsible for the well-being of a tiny human being, their wellness and safety on the road becomes very important. The Avenir trim model comes equipped with the  Driver Confidence II package that includes Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Safety Alert Seat, Front and Rear Park Assist, Forward Collision Alert and Following Distance Indicator. And if that wasn’t enough, on the days a full car doesn’t allow me to properly see out the rear windshield because it’s jam packed with stuff for a shoot, I not only have cameras giving me 360 views of the vehicle’s exterior but the rearview mirror also turns into a rear cam with the flick of a switch. But what really blew mind is learning how the vehicle is also a healthy choice for my family. The Enclave Avenir comes equipped with an ionizer. So yeah, it’s own air filtration system folks to ensure the cabin smells fresh and to keep allergies, dust, pollen, viruses at bay, leaving only the cleanest of air for passengers to inhale. Cue the “hands clapping” emoji.

Photography by Jess Baumung

Now it’s impossible for something to not have at least one flaw. Its just simply not possible for a car to be perfect and trust me, Réjean and I have tried our best to find something wrong but we just couldn’t find any holes to punch through. Minus the 3rd row being a  bit too tight in my personal opinion and the prices climbing quickly as you add on features (and starts at $61,000), the Enclave Avenir passes my test with flying colours so far. We thought perhaps the air filter system could possibly end up being a pain in the ass to maintain and service but after digging and reading up online, turns out that it doesn’t require any maintenance at all.

I have an upcoming road trip for a very special wellness experience next month in which I will be able to see how the car does with fuel consumption, comfort on a long haul drive and cargo space but in the meantime, you can head to www.buick.ca to learn more 2018 Enclave and Enclave Avenir.

Welcome to the Family Buick Envision

Bringing a new life into the world can be both exciting and terrifying for new parents. Even though you may have months to prepare for the arrival, the unknown and the what-if’s to come can be unnerving. As one might imagine, I spent most of my pregnancy researching and acquiring all the baby products I felt we needed for Maxwell in her first few months of life and quickly realized at the end of the summer that I may need a new vehicle to match my new lifestyle as an “Urban Mum”.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter

I have had my license for 20 years ( and you can stop trying to calculate my age right now!) and consider myself to be a great driver but let me tell you something, nothing scared me more than the thought of being behind the wheel of a car with a newborn baby. Most of my anxiety came from not trusting the other drivers out there. I literally became fixated on finding a car that came with as much safety technology as possible to protect us on the road. I also realized quite quickly that this new vehicle would have to be adequate in size to accommodate all the new (and mandatory) things I now needed every time I left the house. Not to mention, one with cool-air ventilated front seats to help me get me through the end of summer and fall because I’ve been a sweaty mess for months thanks to my hormones. And if I can be completely honest with you, I needed a car that also just looked pretty damn cool. The “Mum” title can immediately put you into a category of un-coolness, especially when it comes to vehicles. What I wanted was something sleek enough for my city events, roomy enough to handle long road trips plus all the extra crap that comes with having a baby, next level safety features and tech savvy to handle my work needs on-the-go because a traditional maternity leave doesn’t quite exist for me. That seems like a tall order I know, but the 2017 Buick Envision miraculously ticked all the boxes, making it the perfect addition to the family just before Maxwell’s arrival.

So many of you commented and private messaged me on social media about the Envision. Some of you surprised. Most of you intrigued. Just like the old adage, “you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover” the same can ring true about Buick’s latest fleet of vehicles. They are far from the Buick’s of the past but I know for many, it’s hard to call them a luxury brand since it occupies something of a middle ground between mainstream and high-end. Turns out, the Envision easily competes with other cross-overs in it’s class like the Lexus RX, Lincoln MKC, Audi Q5 and it’s natural rival the Acura RDX, providing more value for money in my personal opinion. Here’s what has me hooked on the 2017 Buick Envision during our first month with the vehicle so far – making it worth a look if you’re in the market for something new, safe and stylish as a new mom or mom-to-be.

Heavy on Safety and Tech Features

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The Envision has more features than you could possibly imagine. I kid you not, even the base model at $35k has a rear camera, OnStar telematics, 4G WiFi hotspot, active noise cancellation, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, 4 USB jacks and an 8-inch LCD center stack, XM Satellite radio, just to name a few. With my newly acquired anxiety about vehicle and driving safety with my baby, it was a no brainer to go with the Premium II version, which comes in around $50K, that literally comes with every single alert and assist feature possible available on a vehicle in today’s market:

  • Forward Collision Alert (FCA) System to help avoid front-end crashes by alerting the driver with flashing alerts and a pulsing seat if you’re approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly.
  • Forward Automatic Braking designed to automatically engage the brake system if the car detects you may crash into a vehicle ahead of you.
  • Lane Keep Assist helps to avoid crashes due to unintentional lane shifting/departures and just like a guardian angel will assist by gently turning the steering wheel to keep you in your intended lane, if it detects your drifting towards another lane without using a turn signal in that direction.
  • Plus, surround vision cameras which gives you a 360 view around the vehicle and comes with the car’s Driver Confidence Package.

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

What has me hooked…

I will never stop singing my praises for wifi connectivity in Buick’s. I have raved about this feature many times driving media fleet vehicles from GM Canada but now that Maxie is here, I am able utilize our wifi access to play lullaby’s for the her via Spotify and YouTube. We’re currently obsessed with “Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay”. The front camera has come in pretty clutch too, and helping me navigate into tight parallel parking spots downtown that I would previously never attempt. Oh, and by simply pressing the blue On-Star button, I get access to a 24 hour operator who can do everything from suggest the best Italian restaurants within 10 kms, send turn by turn directions to the car if I am lost and even acts as emergency roadside assistance.

Size & Design

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The SUV market has something for everything I believe in terms of size. For my current needs, I was looking for something compact but still roomy. I also preferred a more comfortable ride over sporty handling for obvious reasons. Nestled perfectly between the brand’s subcompact Encore and the larger three row Enclave is where I found the Envision. During my final weeks of pregnancy I was patting myself on the back for not choosing a full size SUV knowing I would have struggled climbing into the driver’s side. The Envision’s height made it easy for me to get in and out of the car, even a week past my due date. It also turned out to be the perfect height for my pup and little nephew to climb in on their own as well.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision Buick Style - So Sasha
Left rear bench is reclined back to reveal the option of additional space for back seat passengers

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

2017 Buick Envision
A hidden storage compartment makes it easy to store vehicle and personal items

A compact crossover it may be but rear seat passengers will find the extra few inches desirable in the back as the rear bench slides back and reclines to allow more leg room; a feature we will no doubt enjoy on upcoming road trips. As for the trunk space…quite impressive for a compact crossover. More than adequate for our little family now with 27 cubic feet available, although I have only tested out the space with our Bugaboo stroller chassis. The trunk easily converts to 57 cubic feet when one of the rear seats is folded down into a 60/40 split. I am sure over the coming months I will have plenty of opportunities to test out the different space configurations. To ensure I have optimal storage space back there for larger items like the stroller, there is a hidden compartment underneath the floor of the trunk perfect for storing personal items. It’s actually also a brilliant way to hide any valuables in the car that you wouldn’t want seen and potentially stolen. When it comes to small(er) SUV’s, it’s not uncommon to find small sunroofs…one of my pet peeves. A panoramic moonroof extends into the car’s rear cabin making the interior bright and airy even with my dark leather appointed interior.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision

What has me hooked…

While warm days with sunlight streaming through the windows and moonroof is great for most passengers, it’s not always the most ideal for teeny tiny babies confined to their car seats in the back. However, the size of the Envision’s moonroof allows me to close the moonroof cover half way to provide shade for Maxi in the rear but to still allow ample sunlight in the front cabin. My hidden storage compartment in the trunk is one of the best things since sliced bread. I have used these compartments in recent weeks for extra diapers, wipes and drop sheets for Maxie instead of stuffing more than necessary into her diaper bag. I have even left clothes, extra shoes to change into if my feet start getting sore on the road and even my laptop between meetings.

More Bang For Your Buck

I know this all sounds amazing but the question on everyone’s mind is always the pricing; and rightfully so. The base model starts in and around $35k with freight while there is four other trim line’s (Preferred, Essence, Premium and Premium II) ranging from $36-50K. With the base model coming in so strong with all it’s features, it’s actually a better choice and more bang for your buck over the Preferred trim line which only offers a dozen or so additional minor features . But if music, enhanced safety, and heated (front and rear)/ventilated seats are your thing, then the top two tier trim lines would definitely be for you.

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter
Photography by Elaine Fancy

We no doubt have tons of adventures ahead in the Envision and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to start creating our first family moments and share them with you guys. For more information on the all new Envision or other vehicles within the Buick line-up head to Buick.ca.

The New “Head Turning” Generation of Buick

If you were born sometime in the eighties, chances are you had a grandparent, or knew someone who had a grandparent, that drove a Buick. Why? Being the oldest active automotive brand in North America and a car once known as the “Moving Couch” because of it’s plush interiors – Buick tended to attract a population of people 65 and over. But fast forward about three decades later, the brand is starting to reap the benefits of all their hard work and efforts in repositioning Buick not only as premium, but as vehicles attractive to a much younger target demographic.

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Lacross - So Sasha

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Lacrosse

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Lacrosse
Napa Valley California in the 2017 Buick Lacrosse. Photo by Lauren McPhillips @ThisRenegadeLove

A feat thought to be impossible by many is slowly becoming more and more realistic year after year with serious financial investment from General Motors and most importantly a well appointed design team. Car companies live and die by two measures – product and pricing. Over the last couple of years, Buick has seen much success by employing a very basic strategy in regards to both: Do what others aren’t. Meaning, manufacturing high quality vehicles at a price point affordable to those who can’t quite make the leap to the luxury category. This has helped the company’s fleet not only gain the attention of the hard to impress car geeks on the auto show circuit but also attract a whole new, refreshing demographic, which I just happen to fall into – women between the ages of 25-45. As I’ve gotten older, or shall I say more mature, with major “adulting” lifestyle changes no less, I am now drawn to different vehicle amenities and attributes. I’ve bid adieu to the notion that my vehicle’s laniard symbol on the grill is the most important thing, followed by speed or where it falls within the luxury class. I remember when the BMW 3 series and Benz C-Class was the car everyone wanted post university to symbolize they’ve found their first good paying career job. Whereas now, I’m interested in seeing more value for (my) money in a car instead of it simply coasting off the prestige of it’s brand name providing the same offering as a base model Accord. Sorry Honda!

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Envision
Sonoma Valley, California – Beringer Estates with the 2017 Envision. Photo by Lauren McPhillips @ThisRenegadeLove

Last year my interest was seriously piqued when I made the trek to Napa Valley, California with Lauren of This Renegade Love, for 36 hours to learn more about Buick’s 2017 Lacrosse sedan and it’s newest compact luxury SUV, Envision. The vehicle’s design cues, elegance and technology features drastically elevated the expectations of what a Buick can be.

Sasha Exeter - NYIAS - Buick Enclave Avenir
NYIAS – Javits Centre (NYC) April 2017

This month, I kept the travel a bit closer to home for the much anticipated reveal of Buick’s piéce de resistance…it’s first ever vehicle in family-oriented luxury; the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir, which debuted at the New York International Auto Show. Similar to most other women in my age bracket, I’ve developed an interested in smart innovation and technology features but not at all prepared to sacrifice style for either of those things. So yes, I guess you can say I want it all.  Turns out, all come standard in the new Enclave Avenir and will play an integral role in setting the stage for Buick to successfully claim it’s deserved place in between the mainstream and luxury categories. How?

To make the new Enclave, we spent time in the homes of our loyal customers and the homes of competitive buyers, learning how they use their vehicles with an eye for making their lives more better, easier and more satisfying! – Global Buick Vice President, Duncan Aldred (shown below)

The exterior, which comes in five premium colours, visually sets itself apart. It’s sleek and slightly deceiving when it comes to size. Slimmer and lower bodied than it’s predecessor, plus roomier than it has been in the past. You wouldn’t guess this seven passenger SUV has more room behind it’s first row of seats than the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and the QX60. However, it’s the interior that oozes premium, with it’s Avenir Chesnut and Ebony colour way, wood accented steering wheel and super luxe embroider first-row headrests. Pretty much what you would expect to find in vehicles 2.5 times what I predict the Avenir Enclave to be priced at, which won’t be revealed until later into the year.  And these well appointed design details are no fluke, but rather carefully curated and planned 3-4 years in advance by Buick’s highly skilled team; who looks at trends in fashion, interior and even furniture design industries to help develop a luxurious aesthetic that is also highly functional. In a way, creating consumer demands eons before we could ever dream of needing these attributes. Half a decade ago, would you ever think that you would need wireless charging capabilities for your phone, a 360-surround  vision camera system for easier parking, or a rear camera mirror that can function as a traditional mirror or a camera; virtually eliminating potential obstructions of the past like oversized headrests or passenger heads? And of course, I can’t forget access to 4G LTE wifi and Apple Car Play. All available now in the Avenir and select Buick models.

But what really blew my mind are the little things that the special teams thought to include that really enhances a family’s lifestyle and makes life easier. Think, second row SmartSlide Seats that provides easy access to the rear third row – normally a nightmare to access, especially when you have a car seat in the mix. It now has pitch slide functionality to allow you to fold the row down, even with an empty front facing child seat in it. How brilliant is that for growing families? My favourite lifestyle enhancing feature announced at the reveal is the Enclave’s air ionizer that not only eliminates odours but also provides better overall air quality – reducing bacteria, dust, viruses, pollen and debris, plus it turns out, all can significantly improve driver alertness. Are you thinking about the hassle of maintenance for this feature? I sure as hell was, but Buick has managed to find a way to manufacture this thing in a way that it requires no maintenance or filter replacement.

The most standard response from those who have seen the latest from the brand is, “That’s a Buick?!” which has ironically been their tag line and social media hashtag since switching into high gears of it’s brand repositioning. This little sneak peek across the border has left me itching with anticipation to get behind the wheel of the Enclave Avenir and the rest of the new fleet roll-out. So let’s just say my fingers are crossed for some adventures with Buick this summer!

Head to Buick.ca for more details on the 2018 Enclave Avenir or the rest of Buick’s current six car line-up.

My Buick Lifestyle Drive Experience With The 2014 LaCrosse

2014 Buick LaCrosse

If you happen to fall into my age bracket (25-35), you probably think of Buick as the vehicle your grandparents drove when you were growing up. To be completely honest, I used to as well until I got a chance to have an extended test drive experience for two weeks in the 2014 Buick LaCrosse. I’ve only ever owned Japanese and German vehicles so I was intrigued to see what the Buick brand had to offer in regards to performance, design and craftsmanship. I drove the LaCrosse all over the city determined to see if the vehicle had what it takes to really be considered a luxury car and whether or not it fit my lifestyle. I was completely blown away by the tech features, which believe me were greatly appreciated during this horrendous winter weather. On those cold and early 6 am drives to my Nike Training Club classes at Academy of Lions Crossfit, my drive was far more pleasant having the benefit of a heated steering wheel. Trust me when I say that this feature is a little piece of heaven and made the transition back to my car after the test drive extremely difficult. The amazing 8 inch display integrated audio system, “Intellilink”, with capacitive touch controls made it unbelievably easy to pair all my wireless/bluetooth devices, use navigation and enjoy  Beyonce’s album through the phenomenal Bose speakers (…and yes I still have her album on repeat!)

2014 Buick LaCrosse2014 Buick LaCrosseFrom attending events,  meetings and a private fashion dinner at Cafe Boulud at the Four Seasons Hotel – where 12 of us noshed on a feast of Whole Roasted Chicken with Pomme Aligot, Fall Root Veggies, Roasted Cote de Boeuf, Spinach a la Creme and the restos famous Baked Alaska dessert – these wheels were both comfy and roomy enough for me to play designated driver for my fellow blogger buddies and was definitely sleek enough to hold it’s own amongst other luxe cars in the valet of some of Toronto’s hottest spots. Believe me, if I had a dollar for every time someone said, “No way…this is a Buick?!”, I would never have to work another day in my life.

Cafe Boulud Four Seasons HotelCafe Boulud Four Season Cafe Boulud Four Seasons Hotel

During the winter safety features become even more important to me. I log a ton of kilometers on the road each week going to events and meetings so the probabilities of a potential accident are increased with all my windshield time. I have yet to see a safety portfolio in a car like the one in the LaCrosse. Buick has introduced the latest advances in safety technology…the car can alert you of a potential hazard by a vibration in the driver’s seat, lane change alerts to warn you of vehicles in the next lane approaching fast from behind and a unique collision preparation system which not only warns you of a potential collision ahead but can also automatically apply the brakes if it detects you may not be reacting quickly enough to the threat. Hate getting into a cold car? Well there’s an app for that too. With the OnStar RemoteLink Mobile App you can lock, unlock and even start the LaCrosse remotely from your phone or tablet.

2014 Buick LaCrosse2014 Buick LaCrosseThere are seriously too many amazing features to list about this car. I could go on and on but if I did you would probably be convinced that this is a sponsored post (which it is absolutely not). For a frequent driver like me, gas consumption is something I pay close attention to and this car is available with a fuel saving technology called eAssist. I discovered this feature on my second day of the test drive when I noticed they engine turned off when I was stopped at a red light and turned back on when I went to press the gas pedal.  Turns out that this is not only for fuel consumption but eAssist also captures and stores energy in the battery which is used to run accessories when the car is stopped and engine is turned off. So…does Buick still sound like your grandparents car now?

For more information on pricing, features or to schedule a test drive head to the Buick website.

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