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Buick Shocks Detroit With Rear-Wheel-Drive Avenir Concept

Could this be the brand's Omega-based flagship?

DETROIT – It has been a long time coming, but Buick appears ready to return to its near-Cadillac, rear-wheel-drive premium car roots with the Avenir concept it sprung on media after showing off its version of the Opel Cascada convertible. The Buick Avenir is said to have General Motors’ next-generation 3.6-liter V-6 under its block-long hood and the new nine-speed automatic transmission under development for RWD cars. The sedan has a four-door coupe-like C-pillar. It’s about 205 inches in overall length, with a 75-inch width, and appears to preview GM’s new Omega platform, which will underpin the 2016 Cadillac CT6.

Buick is unwilling to describe the Avenir is anything but a concept car, however. To us, it looks like the long-awaited RWD Buick flagship. Last fall, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen told AUTOMOBILE that his brand would have to share platforms and engines (there will be a V-8 based off the new V-6s/four-cylinder family) with other divisions. The upcoming 2016 Cadillac CT6 will be the first car to be underpinned by the Omega platform.

The Avenir, like the Buick Cascada convertible also unveiled here, does not have the “waterfall” grille used on production Buicks since at least the introduction of the Enclave, the SUV that has defined the brand recently. Its vertical-bar grille is more upright, and has a horizontal bar that helps give the car a wider look from the front, plus a badge with red, white and blue highlights, like Buicks of yore. The rear deck has a bit of boattail in it, referencing the third-generation, 1971 Riviera. There’s a deep, inverse draw inside the rear of the C-pillar to create a very subtle “flying buttress” look to the rear deck, as well. The exterior design gives this Buick, believe it or not, the same sort of presence as the Cadillac El Miraj concept.

The interior is clean and elegant, with a “flying bridge” center console extending to the rear to create 2+2 seating, and is designed to emphasize long, flowing lines, like the exterior. Designers have updated the modern “sweepspear” side surfacing, and there are subtle character lines in the hood.

So what are the prospects for production? The Avenir is the big, RWD sedan Buick needs to help justify premium prices (over well-equipped Chevrolet variants, for example), in its mainstream lines like LaCrosse, Enclave, Encore and Verano. It seems a very likely candidate for production not only because of the positive reception from journalists at its unveiling, but also because GM needs to find volume in the Cadillac Omega platform. From any point of view, producing the Buick Avenir could only be a good thing.

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2015 Buick Enclave

2015 Buick Enclave

MSRP $39,050 Convenience FWD

EPA MPG:

17 City / 24 Hwy

Cargo (Std/Max):

23 / 115 cu. ft.

Seating:

7/7