- 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 shifted through a 6-speed automatic to the front wheels only, or to all four corners through all-wheel drive. Updated control software last year removed some of the six-speed's indecisiveness; the transmission hunts less and better handles the Enclave's prodigious weight. The Enclave's 24 mpg rating on the highway is on par with the rest of its class.
The Enclave rides well with a new suspension that was added last year. It's smooth and responsive for a vehicle of its heft and size. Despite improvements, it still rides like a big crossover, but it manages to be predictable in the way it handles.
But back to that practicality-of-a-minivan idea: The Enclave holds up to eight passengers and offers good standard equipment with reasonable handling and fuel economy. There's flexible in the seating configuration and its a strength for many considering the big Buick as a replacement for a minivan. The front seats can be heated and cooled, and the Enclave is an excellent family vehicle, although we wouldn't put many adults in the third row for long stretches. Behind the third row, there's 23 cubic feet of space for cargo, and by folding down the second and third rows that space balloons up to 115 cubic feet. The Enclave is the perfect suburban weapon for weekend hauls from big-box retailers.
Safety is one of the Enclave's first priorities and Buick recently added a new front-center airbag that can help keep driver and front-seat passenger safe in a side impact. Advanced safety features such as lane departure warnings, forward collision alert, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert are available.
Buick's latest infotainment system, dubbed IntelliLink, helps propel the Enclave to the front in connectivity and user interface. Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming is available here, as are apps for internet radio including Pandora and Stitcher. This year standard equipment includes HD and satellite radio, a rearview camera, and voice recognition for some infotainment functions. Optional equipment includes a 10-speaker Bose audio system.