- Photos By Buick & Kyle Edward

Overview:

You get a Buick Enclave when you're too cool for a minivan and desire something more upscale than a Traverse. With seating for seven and a generous third-row, it's not a bad option. Starting at $40,000, it's quite pricey and pushes the Enclave into the true luxury SUV world, running with the Audi's and Acura's of the world. The premium Avenir model with AWD is going to set you back a hefty $55,000 and that doesn't even include adaptive cruise control. You would need to option the Avenir technology package, which carries a $2,095 price tag to get that feature.

Powertrain

Powering this hefty SUV which weighs in at 4,685 lbs. is a 3.6-liter V-6, that cranks out 310 hp @ 6,800 rpm and 266 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm. It's the only engine available and having driven the Enclave in the mountains, I can tell you it's enough power to make you feel comfortable, but it's not enough to give you a spirited driving experience. It can feel dull at times when you're trying to pass on the freeway which is where the lack of torque comes in having only 266 lb-ft. However, most soccer moms will never notice. The Enclave is available in both FWD and AWD applications but the AWD is only part-time and competitors offer better systems full-time systems. All power is routed through a smooth 9-speed transmission which we're starting to see in a lot of new GM vehicles. The system as a whole between the engine, transmission and AWD application is very smooth, quiet and refined but still lacks that extra shot of power which we see in some competitor vehicles.

HANDLING & SUSPENSION

For being such a large SUV, the Enclave handled itself well on windy mountain roads as I put it through its paces and still managed to maintain a very comfortable ride with limited body roll. Around town, you'll be pleased with the soft smooth ride and heavily insulated interior to keep outside noises to a minimum. I was happy with the combination of handling capabilities and comfort the Enclaved provided, while not sporty it wasn't a slob on the road.

STYLING

The Enclave Avenir looks all dressed up ready for a night out on the town, featuring a unique chrome grille, 20" wheels and unique Avenir badging to ensure everyone knows how much you spent. Sculpted body panels are meet with large sweeping curves and chrome accent pieces to make up the majority of the exterior design language. The headlights are especially large and sweep around into the side body panel which looks very cool at night when the LED lights are on. I'm a fan of the overall body design and hats off to Buick for differentiating the design from the other vehicles on the same platform.

COMFORT & INTERIOR QUALITY

All of the seats are very comfortable and even the 3rd row has a good amount of room for those extra passengers. The middle row has captain's chairs which recline and move forward/backward. From a trim standpoint, the chestnut interior combined with black accent panels is a good way to go, it looks elegant and the color contrast is a pleasing touch. The dashboard is leather and looks high-end with chrome accents and sweeping curvey lines. It does fall short in this price range when it comes to overall quality. The interior buttons, handles, materials, and knobs just don't feel as well made as others.

TECH FEATURES

The Enclave has all of the safety features you could ask for but get ready to pay extra even at the highest trim levels. For example, in order to get distance guided cruise control, you need to option the Avenir technology package, which costs $2,095. A hefty price to pay when you're already over $50,000. At the Avenir level, you do get a 360-degree view camera standard which is helpful when parking this not so small crossover. The infotainment system is dated and hasn't been updated to reflect GM's new system. The in-car navigation system is annoying as it's difficult to find destinations and the map graphics looks like they are from 2010 and that is no joke. Thankfully you can connect Apple Car Play or Android Auto but the system is still miles behind others in the segment.

SOUND SYSTEM

The optional Bose 10-speaker sound system isn't bad by any means and will please most people. However, it lacks strong bass tones at neutral levels and there are very limited tuning options. Even with the volume near maximum, it doesn't fully encompass you in sound rather it's a very side to side sound experience.

Verdict

The Enclave isn't a bad vehicle for the family, it's quiet, comfortable and roomy. It looks more upscale than a Traverse, but that alone can't justify the premium price tag. Unfortunately, it doesn't go above and beyond in any one area and the competition at this level is fierce and unforgiving.

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