What's New for 2013
The Buick Enclave gets a significant refresh for 2013. Though the body structure and engine largely remain the same, changes to exterior styling, interior design and quality, suspension tuning and feature content are considerable. Buick's IntelliLink electronics interface is a new technological highlight.
Buick typically positions itself as a brand that builds higher-quality, more luxurious vehicles than its Chevrolet corporate cousin, yet it doesn't go so far upstream as to encroach upon the refined waters of Cadillac. It's a niche to be sure, but one that works out well for models like the 2013 Buick Enclave.
Like the related Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, the Enclave offers a variety of useful seating configurations, a colossal cabin, a confidence-inspiring driving experience and sufficient V6 power. However, the Enclave boasts classier styling and more upscale interior appointments than its cousins. And for 2013, the Enclave's even classier. The cabin's general layout remains the same, yet the materials have been upgraded, especially the dash. The 2013 Enclave also now features Buick's IntelliLink (it's the same as Chevy's MyLink), which consists of a configurable touchscreen display and smartphone app integration.
Other noteworthy changes include unique front inboard side airbags and a retuned suspension that delivers a smoother, more controlled driving experience. Altogether, the 2013 changes help bolster the Enclave's status. Checking out its Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia siblings is still a good idea — you might like their styling or price tags better — and the 2013 Ford Flex and 2013 Mazda CX-9 are our other favorites in this segment.
Of these, the 2013 Buick Enclave looks and feels the most like a luxury vehicle. And when you consider the paltry selection of large three-row crossovers from traditional luxury brands (the Infiniti JX35 is smaller; the Mercedes GL-Class far pricier) this Buick's position in the middle ground of pricing becomes that much more appealing.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Buick Enclave is a full-size crossover with only one trim level and a choice of three different equipment groups. Every Enclave comes standard with second-row captain's chairs and seven-passenger capacity. A second-row bench seat is optional on the Leather and Premium groups and increases the seat total to eight.
The base Enclave with the Convenience Group comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights, rear privacy glass, a power liftgate, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, remote ignition, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (plus two-way lumbar adjustment), a two-way power passenger seat (fore/aft adjustment), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, OnStar emergency communications, a rearview camera and a sound system that includes a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio. Also standard is the IntelliLink electronics interface, which includes a customizable touchscreen, voice recognition, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and smartphone apps.
The Leather Group adds to that 19-inch wheels, a blind-spot warning system, cross traffic alert, leather upholstery, heated front seats and an eight-way power passenger seat.
The Premium Group adds all the Leather and Convenience items, plus adaptive headlights, power-folding and driver auto-dimming mirrors, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and a 10-speaker Bose sound system (optional on Leather Group).
Options on the Leather and Premium groups include 20-inch wheels, a sunroof (plus rear glass roof panels), a rear-seat entertainment system, a Bose surround-sound audio system and a navigation system integrated into IntelliLink.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Buick Enclave comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, while all-wheel drive is an option. When properly equipped, the Enclave can tow 4,500 pounds.
In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive Enclave went from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, which is on par with other large crossovers.
EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined with front-wheel drive or 16/22/18 with all-wheel drive.
Every 2013 Enclave includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front outboard side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Also standard is a large airbag that deploys between the front seats in the event of a side impact. The standard OnStar system includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention, and remote door unlock. The Leather and Premium groups include a blind-spot warning system and a cross-traffic back-up warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Enclave with the optional 20-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, which is an average distance.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Buick Enclave interior exists in a realm somewhere between regular- and luxury-branded crossovers. For 2013, certain materials were upgraded, such as the large swath of padded, leather-look material covering the dash with contrast stitching that looks and feels classy.
The climate controls now are operated by three easy-to-use knobs, while every Enclave features GM's IntelliLink interface. This consists of a large touchscreen with menu icons that can be arranged however you wish -- just like a smartphone. And speaking of which, IntelliLink allows you to connect to services like Pandora or Stitcher radio via the Bluetooth system. The touchscreen interface has a clean layout and intuitive menu structure, but it can be problematic at times due to occasionally missed inputs and delayed reactions.
As for more practical matters, the Enclave is the most spacious crossover available for both people and cargo. Full-size adults can fit in each row, while there is a surprising amount of space (23 cubic feet) even behind the third row. Fold down both rows and you get a whopping 115 feet -- more than any other large luxury crossover. Front seat comfort also scores very high, with a highly adjustable driver seat. If there's one significant downside it's limited rear visibility.
The 2013 Buick Enclave weighs slightly less than the average American house, so it would be hard to describe it as light on its feet. Yet, it's practically McKayla Maroney compared to traditional, truck-based large SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe. Sure, it'll feel cumbersome in tight spots, while other large crossovers like the Mazda CX-9 feel more nimble, but overall, the Enclave is pleasant to drive and its handling instills confidence. The suspension also earns high marks for its ride that is both comfortable and controlled.
The 3.6-liter V6 provides sufficient acceleration in a wide variety of driving conditions. However, luxury-branded models (many with powerful V8 engines) are almost all much quicker. Nevertheless, the Enclave's performance, combined with its hushed cabin, makes it a fine choice for daily driving, long road trips and everything in between.