2013 Buick Enclave 1SN SUV (3.6L V6 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 9/12/2012
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
The Buick Enclave offers utility with a touch of luxury. Performance and fuel economy are average for the class. It offers three rows of seating, though the third is not spacious. And aside from soft-touch buttons, which require practice to master, the user media interface is logical.
PerformanceIn terms of measured performance, the Enclave is unspectacular but steady. The V6 adequately propels the 5,000-lb SUV and its transmisison shifts smoothly. Soft suspension means it may not be the best choice if you live where the roads aren't straight.
It takes some initial coaxing to get this 5,000-lb SUV going. Power doesn't really roll in until about 3,000 rpm. There are no optional engine choices.
Our panic stop from from 60 mpg to zero required 126 feet, about avearge for a crossover on all-season tires. Brakes feel adequate and dependable in daily use.
Lots of boost from the power steering counterbalances the size of this SUV somewhat. But it needs a whole 40.4 feet of road width to make a U-turn, a bit more than a minivan and some pickups.
Noticeable body roll. Suspension can sometimes feel overly springy in ess-bend cornering transitions, especially in places where the pavement is wavy.
Expect smooth but slow shifts from the automatic transmission. Sizewise, the Enclave needs a bit of extra room during low-speed parking maneuvers.
ComfortComfort is the Enclave's prime directive. It's quiet, rides smooth and is well suited for road trip duty. Front and second-row seats are soft yet supportive, though the third row is a bit tight for adults.
Front seats adjust to fit most anyone. Seat bases are somewhat flat but well cushioned. Second row nearly as cozy. Third row bench is snug.
Generally very smooth in that the Enclave is adept at filtering out road texture and small bumps. Does tend toward floaty on wavy asphalt. May go too far this way for those with tender tummies.
Road isolation is something the Buick does well. Very little exterior noise reaches its occupants. A bit of tire hum does creep in at low levels, however.
InteriorInterior materials offer shades of luxury. Three rows of seating qualify the Enclave for family duty. Visibility is decent, aided by a rearview camera. The soft-touch buttons on the center stack are not friendly to first-time users.
Controls are logically placed. Touchscreen and hard buttons work as intended but the soft-touch buttons surrounding the navigation screen take practice to master.
Not too high and not too low, most will find the Enclave easy to get in and out of. The doors open reasonably far, adding more ease of entry.
Generally feels big inside. The center console up front invades knee space a bit, though. Optional second-row buckets add to the spacious feeling for those in back.
Driving position is good relative to the hoodline and forward view. The rear sheet metal blocks the over-the-shoulder view somewhat, and the optional back-up camera feels like a necessity to see adequately when backing.
The third-row bench is elevated yet still folds flat to increase cargo space. Its center console would benefit from more storage space, though. There's less up here than some competitors.
ValueEntry into this segment hovers around $45K. With options our test car ballooned above the psychological $50K barrier. Fuel economy was unremarkable at 17/24, which is about the norm in the class. The Buick just doesn't stand out.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Our test car was built to a high-quality standard. There were no fit and finish issues of note.
Optional equipment costs are about average for the class. And the Buick offers all of the amenities we expect from comparable SUVs.
Base price for the 1SN is $45,625. As equipped our tester was $50,895. Options included all-wheel drive, navigation, sunroof and 20-inch wheels.
The EPA estimates 17 city and 24 highway. Over 840 miles of driving we averaged 15.5 mpg. Our best single tank was 16.8 mpg, which included exclusively highway miles.
Fun To DriveAs with most SUVs, fun isn't really the operative word. And the Enclave isn't very athletic even among its peers. But it does offer utility with a flash of luxury. We suppose that's what the Enclave is about.
Feels a bit heavy, but by no means is driving this a chore. It's light-years better than the body-on-frame SUVs people are likely trading in for one of these. Still, 40.4 feet to make a U-turn is a lot.
If you want an SUV that isn't a traditional SUV, a minivan that doesn't come across as a minivan, and you want a veneer of luxury, then the Enclave might just have the right combination of personality traits for you.
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