Mention Buick to some folks and they probably think large sedans. That’s no longer true. For example, Buick’s Elantra midsize 3-row AWD crossover takes Buick far away from that image. Elantra offers a host of luxury and technical features, plus spaciousness and utility that easily competes with the glut of todays crossover/SUVs, and does so at a reasonable price.
As a GM product, cross manufacturing also produces the Chevy Traverse that’s built on the same platform and shares the same engine as the 7-passenger Enclave, but the similarities end there. Enclave is more luxurious with a smoother ride than the Traverse. Of course is also costs a bit more.
Enclave is offered in Preferred, Essence, Premium and top-shelf Avenir. Preferred comes standard with FWD while the other trim models are offered in FWD and AWD.
We tested the Essence AWD that had a mere 20-inch step in. It came with leather seating and an 8-inch touchscreen and Buick’s infotainment system with internet connection of up to seven devices, OnStar, voice control, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capability, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto through a phone connection, a host of apps and rearview camera with surround view. There’s also a back massage feature offered as is a rear camera mirror wherein the rearview mirror doubles to expand the rear field of vision void of heads and headrests, says Buick. Front seats had heating/cooling and the steering wheel was heated, all desired features.
HVAC controls are two-fold. There are easy to use dash mounted switches for basic functions while air direction, A/C and front heat/cool control are selected on the display.
Enclave’s gauge set has a sizable driver information display between the speedo and tach. It also displays a reminder if the back seats have a person or package on them when the engine is shut down, and if a door is open when the engine is started.
While there are no faults with the above, there is the questionable BMW-iDrive-like 9-speed automatic transmission shifter. One new Enclave owner gave Enclave 5-stars but said the only negative was the “idiot stick, a reference to the shifter.” The owner indicated simple push buttons would have been better, perhaps referring to finding Reverse gear. To do so, driver’s must first push a switch on the side of the shifter then move it forward then left, making it a three step procedure to find Reverse. For Park, a push on the top of the shifter must be pressed. There were, however, paddle shifters to shift for yourself once underway.
To engage AWD, there’s a switch on a pod to the left of the display. Upon doing so, an indication displays on the gauge cluster.
Second row seats are comfy offering gobs of leg and head room. They have Buicks’ SmartSlide function that easily slides the passenger seat forward for easy third row access, and does so with an empty child seat installed.
Back in the cargo area, and behind the third row seat there’s 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space that measures 23 inches deep, 45 wide and 30.5 wide. Flip the third row and space increases to 58 cubes for 53 inches of depth. Flip second row as well and it opens up 97.6 cubic feet for 86 inches of cargo loading depth.
There’s also a 9.5-inch deep, 3.1 cubic foot, underfloor bin for small item storage. And for loading, a low 30-inch liftover when the hands-free liftgate is opened. There’s also a night light that illuminates the cargo area when the gate is opened.
Enclave gets it power from a 3.6-liter V6 with 310-hp and 266 lb/ft of torque. It sends power to the drive wheels through the standard 9-speed automatic transmission. Combined, it earned EPA mileage ratings of 17 city, 25-highway mpg with start/stop engine technology. It’s also rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Moving Enclave’s 4,568-pound curb weight is essentially a linear application of power. It’s spirited with ample passing power on interstates.
Enclave offers a quiet, smooth ride on 20-inch Continental tires. With its multi-link rear suspension, it nicely absorbs pock-marked roads and tar strips. And with a turning radius of 39 feet, Enclave parks easily for a midsize crossover.
Safety features included as standard were rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert.
Starting at a base price of $44,000, extra cost options included a Sport Touring Edition package ($1,695) containing mostly cosmetic trim features; dual moonroof ($1,400); Quicksilver metallic paint ($495); floor liner package ($395); plus delivery ($1,195) took the bottom line to $49,180.
To its credit, Enclave scored big on government 5-star safety ratings. It earned five stars for an overall score; five for driver/passenger frontal crash; five for front/rear seat side crash; and four for rollover.
Enclave also comes with a 3 year, 36K mile bumper-bumper; 5/60K powertrain warranties; roadside assistance and courtesy transportation and free first maintenance visit.
Buick is no longer a banker’s car brand. It has come into its own with upscale, impressive offerings including the handsome and family oriented Enclave.