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- Expressive sheet metal
- Spare and elegant cockpit
- Good third-row space
- Much-improved handling
- Still rides smoothly
- Base seats are cloth
- All-wheel drive is part-time
- Fuel economy still just average
- Best safety features not pervasive
- Pricey Avenir trim level is more a feature-unlock code
- #1 in Large SUVs
The 2018 Buick Enclave hones its appeal with beautiful style, much-improved handling, and no-nonsense technology.
It took nearly a decade, but the world now can welcome a new Buick Enclave for the 2018 model year.
With its lovely silhouette and road manners and hugely comfortable cabin, the new Enclave rings the rating bell at 7.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Buick delivers its best shape yet with the 2018 Enclave. It relies on the oldest design trick in the book. That strip of metallic trim that so neatly defines the side view of the Enclave doesn’t quite close at the rear. It reads like a styling sketch, and focuses attention on the shape instead of the everyday family wagon mission. It’s beautiful, before you even consider the Enclave’s handsomely canted LED headlights, its expressive sweep of electronic gauges and screens, and the nearly edible color and trim that line its cabin.
The Enclave has a single powertrain with front- or all-wheel drive. The muscular 310-horsepower V-6 has a muted purr thanks to active noise cancellation, and strong 0-60 mph times as low as 6.4 seconds thanks to a swift-shifting 9-speed automatic and a little less curb weight at its haunches. The shifter comes with paddle controls and a semi-manual mode, but on shift quality alone it outpoints some other 9-speeds in its class. Fuel economy checks in at a middling 21 mpg combined on front-drive models.
The Enclave’s strut-and-multilink suspension delivers an admirably firm ride that’s never jittery, and Buick sells adaptive shocks that can handle an even wider range of unacceptable pavement. The Enclave steers smartly, too, though there’s not much sense of on-center accuracy.
The Enclave excels in coddling adults in the first and second rows. Base cloth seats wear handsome leather on almost every other version. On the passenger side, the second-row seat tilts out of the way for third-row access, where even adults will find good head and leg room, not to mention a USB port and a cupholder. How did we survive the ‘70s, again?
No crash test data exists. If there’s a disappointment with the Enclave, it’s that forward-collision warnings are standard, but automatic emergency braking comes only at the higher trim levels. Adaptive cruise control can only be had on the very expensive Avenir, same as the adaptive dampers.
Base prices start at $41,365, including destination. All Enclaves have touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights, power features, keyless ignition, and a power tailgate. Leather becomes standard on Essence models, with options for navigation, surround-view cameras, and a rear camera mirror. Premium versions cost nearly $50,000 but have Bose audio, a power third-row seat, and automatic emergency braking. The Avenir has its distinct style touches as well as wireless smartphone charging, navigation, and 20-inch wheels—but adaptive dampers and adaptive cruise control still are options. All boxes checked, the 2018 Buick Enclave can cost more than $60,000, or roughly the price of an undergraduate degree.