2017 Buick Enclave Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 1, 2017

The 2017 Buick Enclave is a good-looking SUV for families and one of the better-aging GM cars in recent memory.

The Buick Enclave has lived longer than many thought it would. Crossover SUVs are hot properties these days, and aging models typically don't perform as well in the showroom as newer models.

But the Enclave has been killing it, remaining one of Buick's best sellers almost a decade down the road. It's our favorite of GM's big front-drive-based utility vehicles, which also includes its siblings, the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia.

Its appeal is all prime rib dinner—it's comfortable and classy, and doesn't have a dress code, or a timestamp. We hope that continues next year, when the Enclave gets a new body it'll share underneath with the latest Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia.

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For now, the Enclave scores a 7.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

2017 Buick Enclave styling and performance

The Enclave was the first of a series of new designs from Buick that was introduced as a 2008 model. From its chrome waterfall grille and tasteful shoulder lines, to a well-appointed interior and smartly configured seating arrangement, the Enclave has aged well into its ninth model year. (Even if its longevity was extended due to a bankruptcy.)

Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available on trim levels above its base.

For 2017, the Enclave adds a Sport Touring package—similar to other Buick models—that heaps on new colors and a black grille.

Mechanically, the 2017 Buick Enclave is the same right down to the 3.6-liter V-6 up front. That engine, which produces 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, is a calm customer when mated exclusively to a 6-speed automatic.

The Enclave rides smoothly, and the handling is reasonably responsive. On narrow roads it feels like a big vehicle, but in curves it does not lean excessively. It is a heavy vehicle and its mass is felt in the way it handles, takes off and stops. The Enclave has a functional third row for adults, though the third row is not a place we'd choose to sit for hours on end.

2017 Buick Enclave comfort, safety, and features

Inside, the Enclave is awash in leather (when equipped) and space. Its 23 cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are up—115 cubic feet when the seats are folded—is downright useful, although we'd hesitate to nick those soft hides.

The feds gave the Enclave a 5-star overall rating, and the IIHS has given the SUV "Good" ratings in all of its tests, except the small-overlap crash test, where it hasn't been rated. Additional safety equipment includes blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and forward-collision warnings, although the Enclave lacks automatic emergency braking that's now becoming standard in the segment.

Standard features on the 2017 Buick Enclave include 19-inch wheels; Buick's IntelliLink with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and voice recognition; AM/FM/satellite radio with MP3 and aux-in; three USB ports for charging and playback; power, heated rearview mirrors; second-row captain's chairs with a 60/40-split folding third row; automatic xenon headlights; eight-way power adjustable driver's seat; universal home remote; power liftgate; six months of OnStar with three months or 3 GB of wi-fi connectivity (additional data sold separately); rear parking assistance; remote start with keyless ignition; tire-pressure monitors; and a rearview camera.

The Enclave's gas mileage of 24 mpg highway with front-wheel drive is on par with many other big crossovers, though an MDX or Highlander can outpoint it on the EPA scale. The 2017 Enclave with all-wheel drive is rated at 16 mpg city, 22 highway, 18 combined.

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2017 Buick Enclave

Styling

The Buick Enclave still has a good-looking exterior and richly appointed interior.

The Buick Enclave still looks regal (see what we did there?) to us, even as the SUV has aged. Its sweeping exterior lines are set against a shapeless Chevrolet Traverse and a GMC Acadia that's breaking with the bunch for 2017.

Though we're more than used to the Enclave by now, it still looks and feels great—especially for the price, which makes it an easy 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Despite the usual special editions that roll out toward the end of a vehicle's life—which can often ruin a perfectly good idea—the Enclave still stands out as soothing and smart. Last year's Tuscan Edition was a tasteful take on the Enclave, and we expect the Sport Touring edition to be the same for 2017.

The cabin has aged well too. The dash is vaguely Art Deco punctuated by an analog clock at the top. The interior is conservative and classy, a university club of sorts with soft touch materials and a stitching—no dress code required.

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2017 Buick Enclave

Performance

The Buick Enclave won't go anywhere very quickly, but it will be plenty comfortable wherever it goes.

The 2017 Buick Enclave is powered by the same corporate 3.6-liter V-6 found in other General Motors models, and previous years of the Enclave. The engine received a slight performance boost a couple years ago, which raised its figures up to 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Keep in mind that its peak power happens relatively high in the range (6,300 rpm) and peak torque is much lower (3,400 rpm), which means to us that's its far better at smoothly pulling away from stoplights than it is pulling quick passes on the highway.

The Enclave won't win a drag race, but it generally drives really well otherwise—scoring it a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive (AWD) is available. For cold-weather state buyers, it should be noted that AWD automatically adds the Leather Group package, which adds heated seats and a heated steering wheel.

Additionally, the Enclave can be equipped to tow up to 4,500 pounds, which should be enough for many weekend toys. Buyers who are considering the Enclave, but need more towing capability, could be better suited by a GMC Yukon/Chevrolet Tahoe.

We've found that the Enclave handles relatively well for an SUV of its heft, and that its body roll is somewhat quelled in cruising. Mash the brakes and you'll be reminded of the Enclave's size; the big SUV still has a lot of nosedive.

Opt for the 20-inch wheels and you may harsh its ride a little. We've found the Enclave to be supremely quiet inside—part of Buick's QuietTuning that has worked very well—regardless of configuration.

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2017 Buick Enclave

Comfort & Quality

There's plenty of room for cargo and adults in the Enclave.

The Buick Enclave is one of the biggest SUVs that GM makes, and it's one of the roomiest too. It was our favorite among its relatives—the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia—due mostly to its quiet ride and quality materials, which net it a 9 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The dash looks upscale and is trimmed with good-looking wood and soft-touch materials. When equipped with leather seating, the Enclave manages to punch far above its weight class, and rivals some luxury competitors in feel and finish.

The Enclave can seat seven (or eight, when equipped) in relative comfort. The front seats are soft and designed to fit a variety of body types. In higher trims, the front seat are power adjustable eight ways, heated and cooled, with memory functions for multiple drivers.

In the second row, passengers are elevated for a good view out front, with comfortable leg support and plenty of head room. Captain's chairs are standard for the second row, but a bench seat can be ordered for more people-hauling duty.

We've even found the third row to be adequate for two adults, albeit in spot duty. Getting into and out of the third row isn't an entirely dignified affair—it's not quite a minivan with sliding doors—but it's possible.

Even with all three rows of seating in place, the Enclave has 23 cubic feet of cargo space. With the second and third rows folded, that cargo space space balloons to 115 cubic feet, which is enough for many home improvement store runs, but watch the leather, will ya?

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2017 Buick Enclave

Safety

Federal test scores are good, but the IIHS hasn't put it through a full battery, and the Enclave lacks some advanced safety features.

When the Buick Enclave was launched in 2007, many of the now-standard safety features and tests didn't yet exist.

Yet, over the years the Buick Enclave has managed to keep pace with many of them. Whether through its size, flexibility or a major refresh only a few years ago, the Enclave is still a relatively safe pick for families.

It gets a 6 out of 10 for the ratings it has, and it's unlikely that'll change. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, the Enclave received a five-star overall from federal testers, including five stars in front- and side-impact testing and four stars in the calculated rollover score. The IIHS gave the Enclave "Good" ratings in all of its tests, but it hadn't faced the notoriously difficult small-overlap front crash test. It's unlikely that the Enclave will ever be rated in that test as the 2017 model will be the last of the current generation.

All Enclave models are fitted with curtain airbags that protect all three rows of seats, front-seat side airbags, a center-front airbags mounted on the inboard side of the driver seat, and stability control. A rearview camera comes standard. On the options list are blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems.

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2017 Buick Enclave

Features

The Enclave can sport plenty of pricey options, but most of them are worthwhile, we say.

The Buick Enclave starts out with a long list of standard features and heaps on leather, sound, and power controls aplenty.

Starting with Convenience, up to Leather and Premium trims, Buick now offers a Sport Touring package that can be added to Leather and Premium group trims that'll add a few more creature comforts to the already impressive Enclave. For now, we score it an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Standard features on the 2017 Buick Enclave include 19-inch wheels; Buick's IntelliLink with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and voice recognition; AM/FM/satellite radio with MP3 and aux-in; three USB ports for charging and playback; power, heated rearview mirrors; second-row captain's chairs with a 60/40-split folding third row; automatic xenon headlights; eight-way power adjustable driver's seat; universal home remote; power liftgate; six months of OnStar with three months or 3 GB of wi-fi connectivity (additional data sold separately); rear parking assistance; remote start with keyless ignition; tire pressure monitor; and rearview camera.

Stepping up to the Leather Group adds (predictably) leather seating, an eight-way power adjustable passenger seat, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, and a heated steering wheel.

The Premium Group adds forward-collision alerts with lane departure warnings, a premium Bose stereo with 10 speakers, heated and cooled front seats, power adjustable steering wheel and 19-inch chrome wheels.

For 2016, Buick added a Tuscan Edition appearance package that added 20-inch wheels, bronze grille and special exterior color that will appear again for 2017.

The Sport Touring package for 2017 adds three special edition colors—White Frost Tricoat, Crimson Red Metallic and Ebony Twilight Metallic—20-inch wheels, and is trimmed with a special black grille (Satin Black Ice, if you're wondering). Other Buick models such as the Encore have received the "Sport Touring" treatment before.

Additional options such as rear seat entertainment and eight passenger seating are available as well.

When equipped like similar luxury SUVs the Buick Enclave can push well past $50,000, which isn't far from other luxury offerings.

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2017 Buick Enclave

Fuel Economy

The aging 3.6-liter V-6 won't impress, but for a three-row SUV, the Enclave is acceptable.

The 2017 Buick Enclave received EPA ratings of 15 mpg, 22 highway, 18 combined in front-drive form. The numbers for all-wheel drive dip to 15/22/17 mpg.

Those are respectable numbers for a three-row crossover that weighs nearly 5,000 pounds, which means it's a 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

However, it should be noted that man within its segment manage better fuel economy with more forward gears, turbochargers, hybrid powertrains, and so on. For example, the 2017 Audi Q7 is rated at 19/25/21 mpg with its V-6 and 8-speed automatic. The front-drive 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe, which has a 3.3-liter V-6 and 6-speed automatic manages 18/25/21 mpg, according to the EPA.

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July 9, 2016
2017 Buick Enclave FWD 4-Door Premium

A very good premium SUV

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This is a solid choice for a premium SUV. Stylish inside and out, very quiet on the road, complete suite of safety features, smooth shifting transmission, handles well and comfortable for driver and... + More »
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$39,065
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7.2
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Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 6
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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  • All-new 2018 Enclave arriving; 2017s still on sale
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