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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
It's too heavy for the 275-horse, 3.6-liter variable-valve timing V-6 under the hood
With seven adults in our front-drive test vehicle, getting up to highway speeds took about all the power the Enclave could muster
we’d suggest paying the extra two grand for an all-wheel-driver simply because it feels a little more planted
Car and Driver
enthusiast drivers will hate the way the Enclave leans in hard cornering
Steering pays homage to the numb Electra 225s of yore with poor feedback, especially on-center.
There's no V-8 engine or a turbocharger to push it into sporting territory, no tuned version for enthusiasts--the Buick Enclave is content to deliver a smooth ride with acceleration strong enough for its family-minded mission.
GM's 3.6-liter V-6 is the Enclave's only available engine, just as in its mechanical kin, the GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse. Its 288 horsepower gets delivered to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic that was co-developed with Ford, where it's used in the Flex crossover, among others. The transmission hasn't always been the equal of the V-6, but last year Buick remapped its shift points to reduce some of the hunting and busy gearchanging that was common in the early years of the Enclave. Together, the drivetrain now feels more at ease, rarely strained by the Enclave's pretty hefty curb weight.
The Enclave handles more deftly than some luxury cars, and its ride is better than many. Last year Buick 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.
Handling and acceleration aren't breathtaking, but they're on par with vehicles in the Enclave's class.