Buick Avenir concept offers a 21st-century take on a full-size Buick

Buick Avenir concept offers a 21st-century take on a full-size Buick

After nearly perishing in General Motors' bankruptcy, the Buick brand has come back to full health — but its lineup of SUVs and sedans tends toward the anodyne. That's what makes the Avenir concept, sprung without notice at the Detroit auto show, such a surprise.

The Avenir, French for future, is an all-wheel drive sedan powered by a V-6 engine with Active-Fuel Management, a system that shuts down unused cylinders when cruising or at low speeds.  Power is pushed to all four wheels via a twin clutch, 9-speed transmission. The Avenir is based on GM's Omega platform, the same rear-wheel drive architecture as the soon-to-come Cadillac CT6, and was built (and mostly designed) by GM's Holden unit in Australia.

Compared to today's Buicks, the Avenir has that swagger missing since the last full-size Buicks and Grand Nationals roamed the streets. The rear-wheel drive proportioned car gives a nod to its 70s-era Riviera brethren, with a softened boattail and a return of the “sweep spear” bodyline. The company has revised the grille at the front of the car and is bringing back its iconic waterfall style, red, silver and blue tri-shield insignia. Wide set wheels and sleek swooping body lines give the car an aggressive, low proportioned look.

The main focus of the concept, however, is on what Buick says is “enhancing the feelings of personal space and well-being."  The four-person concept is replete with a driver recognition feature that automatically syncs infotainment systems in the car to user’s phones and configures the car’s gauge cluster based on previous settings. Technology in the Avenir also allows users to wirelessly charge their phones, access home security cameras, turn on a home’s outside lights or close a garage door. The user-friendliness carries over into the back seats as well—with video screens and USB plugs for passengers.

At the moment, there's no suggestion Buick will build the Avenir — but its existence suggests there are those in GM who wouldn't mind reviving some of Buick's swagger.