The Buick Enclave is a close cousin of the Chevrolet Traverse but slightly dressed up. It's a well-rounded three-row SUV with plenty of power and space, but it's also one of the priciest choices, even if it doesn't appear so from an interior-quality perspective. There are certainly more compelling SUVs in this segment, but the Enclave is worth a look if you fancy a quiet and comfortable ride that's easy to wheel around town.
How does the Enclave drive?
The Enclave is one of the quicker-accelerating midsize SUVs around, needing only 7 seconds to scoot to 60 mph. The transmission is responsive yet operates smoothly and seamlessly, which makes for a very nice combination. The Enclave also handles quite well for a big three-row SUV, never feeling ponderous or unwieldy. Its steering provides easy maneuverability at parking lot speeds and good highway stability, while the brakes make it easy to come to a smooth stop.
How comfortable is the Enclave?
Most three-row SUVs offer good comfort in the first two rows, and the Enclave is no exception. There's nice seat and armrest padding throughout the cabin, and although the third row isn't quite as comfortable, it can accommodate adults, unlike the back rows of some competitors. Air vents for every row are a plus.
The Enclave offers stellar ride quality, even without the optional adaptive suspension, and the cabin is very well insulated from outside cabin noise. Our only complaint stems from some interior squeaks as materials rub against each other when the body flexes over low-speed bumps.
How’s the interior?
The Enclave's simple cabin layout may be a bit boring, but it also makes it easy to use. Its abundance of room and ability to slide the second-row captain's chairs make for a very comfortable cabin when you're not carrying a full load. Getting in and out is a cinch with the Enclave's relatively low ride height. Another benefit of the standard captain's chairs is an easy path to the third row.
Visibility is good, though we might appreciate sideview mirrors that are slightly larger. Otherwise, the square windows leave little hidden, and the optional comprehensive camera system helps you avoid fixed objects when parking or backing out of spaces.
How’s the tech?
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have become necessities for many shoppers nowadays, and the Enclave includes them as standard equipment, along with a total of six USBs strewn throughout the cabin. The optional Bose audio system delivers the quality sound you'd expect at this level. And although there's less of a need for it, the onboard navigation is easy to use, if not a little dated-looking.
For those who need to be connected beyond their smartphones, a 4G LTE hotspot is still available if you sign up for a data plan, as are the app-controlled telematic functions (e.g., remote locking/unlocking, engine start). There are some advanced driver aids available, but hardly any are standard equipment.
How’s the storage?
If cargo space is what you need, then the Enclave is your class champion. By the numbers, it has a huge cargo area (23.6 cubic feet) behind the rear seats and a whopping 98 cubic feet with all the rows folded. Our tester featured electronically folding third-row seats, which is a nice convenience.
The cabin features a decent amount of small-item storage throughout, with the most usable space probably the two-tier center armrest bin. The bonus storage compartment underneath the shifter is made possible by Buick‘s fully electronic shifter. There's plenty of room for car seats. And the car seat anchors on either of the captain's chairs are fairly accessible but not as easy to find as they are on some other Buick vehicles.
How economical is the Enclave?
At an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined with all-wheel drive, the Enclave is a little less efficient than the competition. Kia's Telluride returns 21 mpg, and a Toyota Highlander gets an estimated 23 mpg with AWD.
Is the Enclave a good value?
Value is where the Enclave falls flat, pricing itself out of the hunt especially in our tester's high-end Avenir trim. There are nice aspects to the cabin but too many other things — such as trim, switchgear and panels that squeak as they rub against each other — make it feel cheaper than others costing thousands less. The absence of adaptive cruise control at this price doesn't help either.
The Enclave is also one of the least efficient vehicles in this segment, which is a trade-off for being the most powerful. As far as warranty and ownership, Buick is better than average, though not as strong as Kia or Volkswagen.
The Enclave is a bit of a dark horse. It's surprisingly well rounded. But it doesn't strike us as a vehicle people are aspiring to own, especially not at the asking price. It's not a fun vehicle, but it is a pleasant one.
If Buick could spruce up the interior, spice up the exterior, and bring the price down to a more competitive figure, it would definitely catch the attention of more shoppers.