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.
It's tough to forget that the Enclave is a big, heavy SUV, although it does ride and handle very well for its class. The weight becomes evident every time you start, stop, or abruptly change direction with significant nosedive and body roll. There's good news: the firm brake pedal feel adds a little more confidence than the weight transfer might erode from drivers.
Buick offers the Enclave in front- or all-wheel-drive configuration, and it's rated to tow up to 4,500 pounds, which should be enough for a weekend toy haul of a small boat, jet skis, or gear up to the lakes.