- Third-row seat more roomy than some
- Second-row seats are adult-tested
- Vast, lovely interior
- Smooth looks
- Smartphones? Bring 'em
- Big, and handles that way
- Pricey for a "premium" ute
- Fuel economy
The 2015 Buick Enclave is one of the safest crossovers money can buy, and it impresses with its plus-sized chic styling and appointments.
The 2015 Buick Enclave, now in its eighth year, continues to provide stylish, flexible, and practical transportation for five to seven people and their possessions. By now its look is almost classic, and after a mild styling refresh a few years ago, the Enclave carries on with very few changes for 2015. A heated steering wheel is now optional on certain high-end trim levels, and there's a handful of new paint colors. Otherwise, the big crossover utility vehicle offers a more luxurious version of a vehicle with the same underpinnings as the less-pricey Chevrolet Traverse and the rugged GMC Acadia.
The Enclave was the first truly striking design from Buick back in 2008, and its handsome lines have reset a lot of buyer stereotypes over the years. Of the three large GM crossovers that share the same basic underpinnings, the Enclave is by far the most appealing to our eyes, from the chrome waterfall grille to its slight Coke-bottle shoulder line over the rear wheels. Both its lines and its features add class and comfort to a vehicle that, when you come right down to it, serves many of the same purposes as the much-reviled minivan--though, of course, with available all-wheel drive, now a must-have for family vehicles.
The biggest SUV offering from Buick is still powered by the same 288-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 it's had for years. Power is delivered either to the front wheels or all four corners through a six-speed automatic transmission. Updated control software last year removed some of the six-speed's indecisiveness; there's now less hunting through upper gears--and the powertrain never really struggles despite the Enclave's hefty curb weight. Gas mileage of 24 mpg highway max is on par with other big crossovers.
With retuned shocks and new dampers fitted last year, the Enclave rides better than ever. It's smooth and reasonably responsive for a vehicle so long and tall. It's still a crossover that "drives big," but it's never been one that's felt anything but predictable.
But back to that practicality-of-a-minivan idea: The Enclave can seat up to eight passengers, and it provides lots of standard features along with acceptable gas mileage and reassuring handling. The seating configuration and flexibility inside the 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 Enclave. Recently, it added a new front-center airbag, which helps protect front occupants in a side impact. Blind-spot monitors and a rear cross traffic alert system are available, as are lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems.
As for features, 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.