The Car Connection Buick Enclave Overview
With the Enclave, Buick has a vehicle to rival SUVs such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes Benz GLE-Class.
A surprising success when the nameplate first debuted in 2008, the Enclave has finally been redesigned for the 2018 model year.
MORE: Read our 2018 Buick Enclave review
The new Buick Enclave
Fully redesigned for the 2018 model year, the new Enclave evolves on the previous generation's sleek, handsome exterior design while adding new luxury features and a beautifully crafted interior. The 2018 Enclave also introduces the first example of Buick's new Avenir luxury sub-brand, elevating the brand's three-row CUV to a proper flagship position among GM's three-row crossovers (at least until Cadillac gets around to releasing a car-based full-sizer).
As with the last Enclave, the new model shares its 3.6-liter, direct-injected V-6 engine with certain versions of the upcoming Chevrolet Traverse and the second-generation GMC Acadia, although only the Buick and Chevy get GM's new 9-speed automatic transmission.
The 2018 model's 3.6-liter produces 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The Enclave now returns 17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined with front-wheel drive. Adding the optional twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system sacrifices a digit on both the freeway and combined figures, although the city stat carries over.
Buick Enclave, 2008-2017
Buick introduced the Enclave at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show as the indirect replacement for its aged Terraza minivan and Rendezvous crossover. A more attractive, much more satisfying effort, the Enclave immediately earned kudos for its handsome styling. The three-row SUV might be our favorite of all the big GM crossover designs, just slightly edging out the GMC Acadia and a few well-detailed steps ahead of the plainer Chevy Traverse. Curvaceous fenders and glamorous detailing are matched inside by a subdued, luxurious design.
In its first year of production, the Enclave was fitted with a 275-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. With this combination, the vehicle offered decent acceleration and reasonable fuel economy of 16 mpg city, 22 highway, according to the EPA. For 2009, the Enclave's engine was upgraded with direct injection technology that offered 288 hp.
All first-generation Enclaves featured three rows of seating, with a total of seven places for passengers standard. The second row was fitted with a pair of captain's chairs, while the third had a three-person bench; the latter was notable for its ability to accommodate adults of medium stature—not just small children. Behind the back row, the Enclave offered 19 cubic feet of cargo space, or 23.3 cubic feet of space with the cargo management system removed. When properly equipped, the Enclave could tow up to 4,500 pounds, which should be good enough for most weekend duties.
Crash scores remained excellent even as testing criteria changed. The NHTSA gave the Enclave five stars overall, with a four-star rating in rollover and five stars for front and side impacts. It also received top "Good" scores in all categories by the IIHS; it was not put through the new small front overlap test, something added since the Enclave debuted.
One note for buyers: The Enclave's former trim levels were jettisoned midway through its lifespan. Later models offered option packages that added on features like a sunroof and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Since the big crossover already was well equipped, the arrangement made a bit more sense.
The Enclave received a light update for the 2013 model year, with upgraded infotainment features, a new grille, and some new interior trim, as well as improved struts for better ride control, and new programming for its automatic transmission to relieve some gear-hunting.
As of the 2015 model year, all Enclaves included a standard rearview camera.