The Buick Enclave is a full-size, three-row crossover that's positioned between mainstream and luxury models in terms of price and quality. Last year, the spacious and well-trimmed machine received a thorough refresh that brought updated styling, a retuned suspension and an even more upscale and high-tech interior.
After last year's thorough overhaul, the Enclave sees only minor changes - most notably the addition of new Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning safety systems - for the new model year.
Since its debut back in 2008, the Enclave has been one of the key components of Buick's transformation from an outdated octogenarian favorite to an appealing and fully modern near-luxury brand. One of the first full-size 'utes to trade truck underpinnings for an efficient, carlike unibody platform, its combination of classy styling, refined driving manners and premium interior furnishings have helped attract numerous new buyers to the tri-shield automaker.
Though the Enclave's basic design is beginning to get slightly grey around the temples, the recent facelift did freshen the exterior with a new waterfall grille and reshaped headlights. Bigger revisions came inside, where the already-elegant cabin was upgraded with a ritzy single-piece dashboard, contrasting stitching and ice-blue LED ambient lighting. Aside from unconvincing faux wood trim, the interior wouldn't look out of place in a more much expensive luxury vehicle.
Make no mistake - the Enclave is a seriously large machine. There's ample room for passengers in all three rows to sit in comfort - even way back - and a full 23 cubic feet of cargo space is available with all seats in place. Fold all but the front seats down, and that figure increases to a class-leading 115 cubes.
Enclave's second-row - which can be configured with bucket seats or a bench seat - feature GM's Smart Slide system, a popular feature that allows easy entry to the third row with the pull of one handle. With Smart Slide, the second-row seat cushion flips up while the seatback slides forward, compressing the space occupied by the seat. The seats also have fore/aft adjustment - when scooted rearward, the second-row seat provides more legroom for taller passengers, while adjusting it forward results in more storage space or additional legroom for third-row passengers.
On the tech front, all Enclaves are equipped with Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, which functions through a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with smartphone-inspired customizable menu icons. It allows users to place calls or texts and control the sound system with voice commands, stream Pandora or Stitcher radio with Bluetooth and more.
Power and Fuel Economy
The Enclave continues to feature a direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic as its only powertrain. The six produces 288 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque - that's enough output to get the big crossover moving with respectable alacrity, although it pales at the potent V8s offered by more upmarket rivals.
Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with front-wheel-drive, while opting for surefooted all-wheel-drive dings mileage to 16/22 mpg.
When properly equipped, the Enclave is capable of towing up to 4,500 pounds.
The only sub-dermal change brought by the recent refresh was a modestly retuned suspension with dual-flow shocks up front. The Enclave now rides more smoothly and steers more faithfully than before, although its considerable size and mass prevents it from being truly agile.
Standard and Optional Features
The entry-level Enclave with Convenience Group comes standard with trtiz-one autmatic climate control, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, an AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM sound system with AUX and USB inputs, auto on/off xenon headlights, remote start, cruise control, power-adjustable front seats, an eight-way power driver seat, a two-way power passenger seat, IntelliLink infotainment and 18-inch alloy wheels. Dual USB charging ports at the ear of the center console are new for the latest model year.
The Leather Group adds leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, memory seat settings, 19-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power passenger seat and Side Blind Zone Alert with Cross Traffic Alert.
The Premium Group includes all of the Leather Group gear and adds adaptive headlamps, a 10-speaker Bose sound system, cooled front seats, power-folding mirrors and a power tilting/telescoping steering column.
Standalone options include a navigation system, a front sunroof with fixed rear glass panels, a rear-seat entertainment system and 20-inch wheels.
Standard safety items include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition an innovative front center airbag that deploys from the inboard side of the driver's seat to protect the driver and front passenger from far-side impact crashes. Other safety kit includes traction and stability control systems.
Newly optional for the latest model are the Forward Collision Alert (warns the driver of impending crashes), Lane Departure Warning (notifies the driver when the Enclave begins wandering into an adjacent lane).
The Enclave occupies a niche between more modestly priced mainstream crossovers like the Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot and true luxury soft-roaders such as the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.