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The Buick Enclave is a large crossover vehicle that helped the brand usher in a new sense of style and a new generation of vehicles, back when it was a new model in 2008. After five years on the market, sales are still strong, and it's grown to become more feature-rich and refined for the 2013 model year.More than halfway through its life cycle, GM's put some fresh touches on the Enclave, including an upgraded interior, some minor drivetrain and suspension improvements, and new infotainment and connectivity hardware, all in the quest to keep sales growing.
We'd judge the changes a success, mostly because they don't tamper with the Enclave's goodness. That starts with the cleanly styled, curvy Coke-bottle exterior, which still looks contemporary, and now wears LED lighting and a new grille. The cabin's where the changes are more obvious: it's a full-on facelift, with new trim and materials that remove most of the hard plastics we've griped about, and replaced them with soft-touch pieces that finally merit the Enclave's pricetag.Specs remain the same for the Enclave's powertrain. All models have a 3.6-liter V-6, making 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, and it's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. An updated six-speed automatic transmission is less shifty than before--that's good news, as the Enclave and its GM crossover companions often hunted through upper gears. Fuel economy remains the same, in the acceptable 24-mpg highway range for a big crossover.
Ride and handling are less obviously massaged, but new dampers in front and retuned shocks in back don't disturb the Enclave's smooth ride or its reasonably responsive feel. It's still a vehicle that "drives big," but it's never been one that's felt anything but predictable.The Enclave's crossover credentials make it a player, too. It seats up to eight passengers and lots of standard features to go with its acceptable gas mileage and predictable handling. The seating configuration and flexibility inside the 2013 Buick Enclave remains the same, and that's just fine. It's a strength of this big minivan replacement. The front seats add ventilation as an option, and with seating up to eight, the Enclave's an excellent family wagon, though the third-row seat isn't a place we'd choose to sit for hours on end. There's over 23 cubic feet of space behind the third row, and if you fold the second and third rows there's over 115 cubic feet of cargo space. It all folds down neatly and flat and is just begging for outings to big-box stores.
There's also a safety industry-first in the 2013 Enclave: a new front center airbag, which helps protect front occupants in a side impact. Also, for the first time, a side blind zone alert system and a rear cross traffic alert system are offered in the Enclave. We've given the Enclave a top score of 10 in safety here because of its excellent five-star overall NHTSA rating plus its IIHS Top Safety Pick status.
IntelliLink is the big news for some shoppers, as it brings the Enclave's interior up to the leading edge in connectivity, with a relatively easy interface, well-integrated Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming functionality, and apps for Pandora and Stitcher audio. A rearview camera system, a USB port, HD Radio, satellite radio, and voice recognition are also part of the standard equipment this year, while navigation is optional, as is a ten-speaker Bose sound upgrade.