Buick has been pushing to reinvigorate its image and product lineup in recent years, and the Enclave played a big part in the transformation. It competes in the highly competitive midsize crossover class and does so with a near luxury experience for a less than luxury price.
The Enclave features an upscale interior, smooth ride, plenty of room for both passengers and cargo, and top safety scores. If you're looking for a new or used large luxury crossover SUV with a number of family-friendly features — such as a roomy cabin with easily accessed and adult-friendly third-row seats — the Enclave is worth checking out.
Current Buick Enclave
The Buick Enclave is a full-size crossover SUV powered by a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard. All-wheel drive is optional on higher trim levels.
There are three trim levels for the Enclave: Convenience, Leather and Premium, all with standard seven-passenger seating. An available second-row bench seat increases capacity to eight.
The front-wheel-drive-only Convenience trim comes with 19-inch wheels, a power driver seat, automatic xenon headlights, a power liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone app integration and OnStar. The Leather trim level adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power passenger seat and driver-seat memory settings, a blind-spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert. The Premium trim level features lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems, active headlights, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power-folding side mirrors with heating, ventilated front seats and a 10-speaker Bose audio system. Option highlights include 20-inch wheels, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, towing package and a dual-panel sunroof.
In reviews, we have praised the Enclave for its practicality and upscale feel. High-quality materials are plentiful, especially on higher trims, and the ride quality is excellent. It offers a spacious interior, with third-row seats that offer enough room for larger children and even smaller adults. Access to the third row is excellent, with second-row seats that tilt and slide out of the way, and there's a useful 23 cubic feet of space behind the upright third-row seat. Folding down both rows yields an expansive 115 cubic feet of cargo space.
The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. On the highway, the Enclave is quiet and smooth-riding, though some buyers may find that the optional 20-inch wheels degrade the ride noticeably. But the Buick is feeling its age. The infotainment interface is starting to look dated, and acceleration and fuel economy haven't kept up with competitors. The Buick Enclave's V6 manages the go from zero to 60 mph in a placid 8.2 seconds, and only promises a maximum of 18 mpg (15 city/22 highway). Overall handling is competent and predictable, though the Enclave feels heavier and more ponderous than other similar vehicles.
Used Buick Enclave Models
The Buick Enclave is still in its first generation, which debuted for the 2008 model year. Changes have been minimal, with a handful of minor improvements and tweaks to trim level names and packages. Overall, any used Enclave will be a solid choice for an upscale, family-friendly crossover SUV.
In its first year, the V6 had a lower output of 275 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. The following year welcomed an updated V6 with 288 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque as well as other upgrades that included Bluetooth connectivity and a traffic feature for the navigation system. Until 2010, there were just two trim levels — the base CX and luxury CXL. Also, for the first two model years, the transmission could be lazy to downshift due to programming biased toward fuel economy. For 2010, the transmission was reprogrammed for quicker response. Additionally, Enclaves from 2008 to '12 have slightly different exterior styling than the current model as well as some lower-quality switchgear.
The Enclave's current, more descriptive trim levels of base, Convenience, Leather and Premium, arrived for 2012. Two years later saw the addition of the lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems. We'd encourage buyers considering a used Buick Enclave to look for 2010 and later models for the extra power, better transmission and upgraded technology.
Three-row crossovers have become one of the hottest segments in the industry, yet there aren't many that bridge the mainstream and luxury gap successfully. Buick intends to do just that with the fully redesigned 2018 Enclave.
More sophisticated than its blue-collar Chevrolet Traverse counterpart and roomier than the smaller GMC Acadia, the Enclave finds open middle ground for buyers seeking a fancy family SUV without the premium that comes with a luxury badge.
Gone are the sleepy, pedestrian looks of the last model, replaced with a more windswept exterior design. The ridges, kinks and creases in the new Enclave's sheet metal transform it into something futuristic and attractive. There's a more powerful V6 engine under the hood, and the cabin now offers more passenger room, storage space and technology than before.
Changes More Than Skin Deep
There's more to the new Enclave than a new design and a more powerful engine. Underneath, the 2018 Buick Enclave starts with an all-new body structure made with a blend of sophisticated steels for a more rigid feel. Increased rigidity minimizes resonance, which makes the cabin a quieter place. Quiet comfort is a pillar of the Buick formula, and the Enclave takes it further with judicious sound-dampening material throughout the structure as well as noise-canceling waves piped through the audio system. At highway speeds, you'll hear some wind rush over the glass, but you won't need to raise your voice to be heard around the cabin.
A more rigid Enclave is also a more responsive Enclave, and this new second-generation model leans into turns with stability and ease. This isn't a sporty SUV like a Mazda CX-9, but it doesn't embarrass itself either. A longer wheelbase contributes to straight-line stability, while an optional adaptive suspension, available on the top-trim Avenir model, further blurs the transition between ride comfort and performance.
More Room Than Before
Instead of a typical T-shaped dashboard, the Enclave uses more of a wraparound style with a "floating" center console that bows out slightly toward the driver and passenger. Below the climate controls is an open space for small-item storage and an optional wireless smartphone charging pad. The design minimizes clutter and contributes in a subtle way to a more airy feeling in the cabin.
An 8-inch frameless touchscreen display seamlessly integrates into the dash and forms the centerpiece of the elegant design. It looks great and makes us wonder why some automakers persist with displays that appear tacked onto the dash as an afterthought.
Elsewhere around the cabin are plenty of door pockets and bottle holders, while the switch to an electronic "shifter," one unattached to mechanical linkages connected to the transmission, frees up a well space between the front seats ideal for storage of small items and handbags.
A high caliber of materials and upholstery is used throughout the cabin, with close attention paid to soften the points where hands, elbows and knees land. Although some trim materials are simple plastic, the textures and colors blend nicely with the surrounding materials and impart a more premium feel. Moving up trim levels brings more decadent piano black gloss and wood elements, but even the entry-level grade is impressive.
Looks Good, Works Hard
Sharp body sculpting and high-grade leather won't help an SUV that isn't useful, but this isn't an issue with the 2018 Enclave. Buick aimed to beat the competition in third-row space, offering more head- and legroom for the back-row riders than the Acura MDX or Audi Q7, for example.
We can testify to Buick's successful efforts in this area. Seated next to another adult for an extended period in slow, halting traffic, we never needed more space to stretch out our feet, elbows or shoulders, nor did our fellow passenger. Put three adults back there and someone might get impatient. Three children, no problem. Unless they're siblings.
No one riding with you in the Enclave? Folding both the second and third rows yields almost 98 cubic feet of maximum cargo room. That's more room than most competitors have, and not much less than what you'll find in a Chevrolet Suburban. A power liftgate (hands-free and foot-swipe-operated on the Avenir trim) and a relatively low load floor make all of that open space easily accessible.
The sliding, tilting and reclining second-row seats (only available in captain's chair configuration, no three-across bench seating) add further utility. Pull a lever built into the side of the seat, and the seat tilts and slides forward on its track. Even with a child's car seat installed, there's still enough room to clamber into the third row.
Finally, when properly equipped, the Enclave can tow up to 5,000 pounds. That's solid utility, and it's more than most direct competitors such as the Acura MDX, Lincoln MKX and Infiniti QX60 can tow. It's also about the same as the Volvo XC90's towing capacity but less than a V6-equipped Audi Q7's.
More Power in the Right Place
Motivating all of that cargo and towing utility is a revamped 3.6-liter V6 engine. It's the same size as the last Enclave's engine, but it now develops 310 horsepower (up 22 hp from 2017) but slightly less torque (266 pound-feet of torque versus 270 lb-ft). A new nine-speed automatic transmission sends the power to either the front wheels or all four wheels when you opt for all-wheel drive.
Despite the wealth of gears, the transmission shifts smoothly and intelligently. It's not constantly hunting around for the right gear, although it favors high-gear cruising to maximize fuel economy. We found it easy enough to grab a lower gear with the steering-wheel shift paddles when the mood struck. Buick estimates that front-wheel-drive models will return 21 mpg combined, while optional all-wheel-drive models will get 20 mpg combined.
Everyone Wants to Stay Connected and Safe
Any family SUV worth a spot in the driveway needs to accommodate its passengers' digital addictions, and with a standard subscription-based 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, six USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and optional wireless smartphone charging, the Enclave delivers. But the Enclave's hot tech isn't limited to connectivity. It also offers a host of modern driver aids and conveniences, including a standard rearview camera and rear parking sensors.
Optional assistance features include forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and a surround-view backup camera. There's even the clever rear camera view that uses a rear-mounted camera to stream a real-time video image displayed in the rearview mirror. Several of these features come standard on the top Avenir trim, and many are optional on the lower trims.
Four Trims to Choose From
The Enclave is available in base (Enclave), Essence, Premium and Avenir trim levels. The Avenir trim is new and similar to the Denali premium trim available on most GMC models.
Standard features include keyless entry, push-button ignition, a hands-free liftgate, tri-zone climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, and a six-way power passenger seat. Essence trims add features including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Avenir packs on the premium touches with wood trim, standard heated and ventilated seats, heated second-row seats, navigation, wireless charging, an 8-inch gauge cluster display, rear camera mirror, a surround-view backup camera, adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking and automatic high beams.
Worth the Wait
In a growing, competitive class of three-row crossovers, the details matter. And the 2018 Enclave nails them. Not only do the tilt-and-slide second-row seats ease rear access, but they also feature a "catch" in the seat track that stops the returning seat's rearward travel midway, preventing it from smashing your third-row passenger's legs while he or she gets comfortable.
There's also an ionizer in the climate control system that purports to cleanse the air of odor, dust, dirt and pollen. Though you barely notice small details like this at first, they add to the Enclave's premium feel.
With prices starting at around $42,000 and continuing up to around $60,000, the Enclave spans a wide range of budgets. And while nearly 10 years is a long time to wait for a significant overhaul, the new Enclave offers substantial upgrades over the last-generation model that make it worth considering as an alternative to traditional luxury brands.
Price includes: $2,000 - Buick GMC Down Payment Assistance Program. Exp. 10/31/2017, $1,000 - General Motors Consumer Cash Program. Exp. 10/31/2017, $4,500 - National Buick and GMC Bonus Cash. Exp. 10/31/2017
2017 Buick Enclave AWD Premium Group 3.6L V6 SIDI VVT AWD. Please contact the dealer for additional manufacturer rebates that may be available and could further reduce your Lindsay Love It price! Additional discounts such as recent College Graduates, Educators, Military, owners of competitive makes, loyalty rebates etc, may be available. We make every effort to provide accurate information, but please verify options and price before purchasing. All vehicles are subject to prior sale. All prices are special internet prices only. All financing is subject to approved credit. To review freight fees go to (http://www.lindsaybuickgmc.com/Freight-Charges). Tax, tags, Freight and processing fee of $579 additional. $2,000 - Buick & GMC Down Payment Assistance Program. Exp. 10/31/2017, $1,000 - General Motors Consumer Cash Program. Exp. 10/31/2017, $4,500 - National Buick and GMC Bonus Cash. Exp. 10/31/2017
Third Row Seat, Moonroof, Heated Seats, Nav System, Rear Air, TRANSMISSION, 6- SPEED AUTOMATIC, ELE... Quad Bucket Seats, Power Liftgate, MOONROOF, POWER, Hitch. Premium trim, CRIMSON RED TINTCOAT exterior and TITANIUM interior. KEY FEATURES INCLUDE: Third Row Seat, Quad Bucket Seats, Power Liftgate, Rear Air, Heated Driver Seat, Cooled Driver Seat, Back-Up Camera, Onboard Communications System, Remote Engine Start, Dual Zone A/C, Heated Seats, Heated/Cooled Seats Keyless Entry, Privacy Glass, Remote Trunk Release, Steering Wheel Controls, Child Safety Locks. OPTION PACKAGES: EXPERIENCE BUICK PACKAGE includes (C3U) tilt-sliding power moonroof, (PEW) 20 bright-machined aluminum wheels with Blade Silver pockets and (V92) 4500 lbs. Trailering Package, MOONROOF, POWER tilt-sliding with additional skylight fixed glass aft of the sliding glass and sunshade, TRAILERING PACKAGE 4500 lbs. includes (V08) heavy-duty engine cooling system and (VR2) trailer hitch, CRIMSON RED TINTCOAT, WHEELS, 20 (50.8 CM) BRIGHT-MACHINED ALUMINUM WITH BLADE SILVER POCKETS, LICENSE PLATE BRACKET, FRONT MOUNTING PACKAGE, PREMIUM PREFERRED EQUIPMENT GROUP Includes Standard Equipment, AUDIO SYSTEM, COLOR TOUCH NAVIGATION RADIO WITH INTELLILINK AM/FM/SiriusXM radio with CD player, 6.5 diagonal touchscreen display, includes Advanced Bose 10-speaker system, USB port, auxiliary input jack and rear audio controls with 2 headphone jacks (headphones not included). (STD), ENGINE, 3.6L VARIABLE VALVE TIMING V6 WITH SIDI (SPARK IGNITION DIRECT INJECTION), DOHC (288 hp [214.7 kW] @ 6300 rpm ***Prices include ALL available incentives, exclude taxes, tags, freight, processing fee, finance charges, emissions testing fees. All prices and availability are subject to change without notice. Not all consumers qualify for all incentives. Horsepower calculations based on trim engine configuration. Please confirm the accuracy of the included equipment by calling us prior to purchase.
EXPERIENCE BUICK PACKAGE,WHITE FROST TRICOAT,Leather Seats,Navigation System,3rd Row Seat,Cooled Front Seat(s),All Wheel Drive,EBONY WITH EBONY INTERIOR ACCENTS; PERFORATED LEATHER SEATING SURFACE,EMISSIONS; CONNECTICUT; DELAWARE; MAINE; MARYLAND; MASSACHUSETTS; NEW JERSEY; NEW YORK; OREGON; PENNSYLVANIA; RHODE ISLAND; VERMONT AND WASHINGTON STATE REQUIREMENTS,ENGINE; 3.6L VARIABLE VALVE TIMING V6 WITH SIDI (SPARK IGNITION DIRECT INJECTION); DOHC,TRANSMISSION; 6- SPEED AUTOMATIC; ELECTRONICALLY CONTROLLED WITH OVERDRIVE