Though it doesn't have the strapping, turbocharged power of the Ford seven-seat crossovers, the Buick Enclave's V-6 engine gives it strong acceleration that matches up well with a smooth ride that's slightly improved this year.
The powertrain for the Enclave teams GM's 288-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic that was, in fact, co-developed with the unit Ford uses in its Flex crossover. The combination in the Enclave's received some tuning this year, with reprogramming for the transmission to reduce the hunting in upper gears that's been a complaint since the Enclave was new. In our brief drive, shifting between gears felt more at ease at higher speeds, while the Enclave never strained to reach speed. The engine's usable powerband sits higher in the rev range than in some crossovers, giving it a perky feel, still torquey enough at city speeds.
Handling isn't quite carlike, though the Enclave rides as well as many luxury cars. This year, Buick's fitted new dampers at the front and revised those in the rear for a more absorbent ride. If you get the larger 20-inch wheels, you'll add a little more harshness, even though it's still softer and more refined than other three-row crossovers.
The Enclave steers well for a vehicle of its size, and body roll isn't excessive for its ride height, either--although you'll never forget that the Enclave is a very heavy vehicle. You feel that weight whenever you're starting, stopping, or making any abrupt change in direction, and the Enclave has more nosedive in hard braking than any other vehicle we've been in recently—minivans included—but the brakes are confidence-inspiring, with a firm pedal feel.
Buick offers the Enclave in front-drive or with available all-wheel drive, which is really only necessary if you experience extended winter weather. The Enclave can tow up to 4,500 pounds, which should be more than enough if you plan to tow a couple of jet-skis or a small boat out to the lake.