2020 Buick Enclave

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
August 1, 2019

Buying tip

Active safety tech we consider essential is standard on the Enclave Premium, but not available on Preferred and Essence versions.

The 2020 Buick Enclave is a crossover SUV with a luxurious feel, and a price to match.

With its 2020 Enclave, Buick aims for families looking for an upmarket crossover SUV with three rows of seats. For the most part, the 2020 Enclave hits the bullseye, but at a hefty price. With all-wheel drive and safety options we consider essential for any family, the Enclave costs upward of $50,000.

With that in mind, we rate the 2020 Buick Enclave 6.6 out of 10, awarding it points for its ride quality and styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Changes to the Enclave this year after a redesign last year include a new Sport Touring styling package and newly available massaging front seats, but otherwise the Preferred, Essence, Premium, and Avenir trims carry over unchanged.

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A 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 powers either the front or all four wheels through a slick 9-speed automatic transmission. Premium and Avenir trims can be had with a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system with a twin-clutch rear differential compared to the system available on the Essence. The base Enclave Preferred comes only in front-wheel drive. 

The Enclave rides firmly but comfortably and can handle challenging pavement with confidence. Beefy sound deadening keeps the cabin commendably silent, as we’ve come to expect from Buick.

The Enclave boasts a spacious, well-wrought interior available in warm earth tones on most trims. Leather upholstery comes standard on Essence and higher trims. Big door openings ease access to the first and second rows, while even the third row is spacious enough for adults to ride in a pinch. Nearly 98 cubic feet of cargo storage is augmented by a three-cube storage bin under the floor. 

Mediocre 20- to 21-mpg combined fuel economy and a price that skyrockets with options may make the Enclave a tough sell for some buyers, however. At around $41,200, the base Enclave isn’t a great value given it lacks active safety and driver-assistance gear standard on most rivals. To get that tech and all-wheel drive, the price balloons to over $50,000, and a loaded-up Avenir costs $10,000 more.

7

2020 Buick Enclave

Styling

The 2020 Buick Enclave has a well-proportioned look that could have come out of Europe’s best styling houses.

The 2020 Buick Enclave wears its chrome trim well. Its silhouette says mainstream crossover SUV, but its detailing is a notch above. We arrive at 7 out of 10 for its styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The wide, slatted grille is flanked by brightwork that extends to the LED headlights and running lights. A hint of chrome on the rear fender does a much better job recalling Buick’s design past than the chunky fake portholes the automaker used to glue to its hoods. At the rear, a big chrome stripe drapes across the tailgate between the high taillights. Big exhaust tips poke out of the rear bumper, a nice contrast that helps give the crossover SUV a strong look.

Inside, the 2020 Enclave is well laid-out, a reminder that there can be luxury in simplicity. The curved dashboard and control panel have few buttons to disturb the look, and a wide variety of interior hues are well-matched to the exterior. We especially like the butterscotch trim on higher-option Enclaves.

The range-topping Enclave Avenir has its own grille and interior hues, but most of its features can be found at a lower price point. This year’s new Sport Touring trim package for the Essence paints much of the chrome to match the body and has a few unique touches inside.

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2020 Buick Enclave

Performance

A sublime ride quality earns the 2020 Buick Enclave our praise.

Smooth suspension tuning on every version of the 2020 Buick Enclave, and not just the adaptive dampers fitted to the costly Avenir, earn it a point above average. We score the 2020 Enclave at 6 out of 10 points for its performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 310-horsepower V-6 offers good thrust and it works well with the standard 9-speed automatic transmission, even if the gear lever itself can frustrate in its quirky operation. The gearbox snicks through its nine cogs quickly, and the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are a boon for highway passing and descending grades. 

The Enclave comes standard with front-wheel drive, while mid-range models can be had with a basic all-wheel-drive system that brakes wheels to reduce slip. The costlier Premium and Avenir trims swap in a far more sophisticated system worth seeking out for wintry climates that includes a clutch in the rear differential to shuttle power between the wheels rather than applying the brakes. 

The standard 18-inch wheels have plenty of sidewall that works well with the front struts and five-like rear suspension setup to deliver a composed, high-quality ride. The optional adaptive dampers on the Enclave Avenir have modes to soften and stiffen up the ride, though a so-equipped model is costly. Sharp, quick-responding electric power steering delivers little in the way of road feel, not that any rival is better. 

The Enclave is rated to lug 1,500 pounds in base configuration, while an optional towing package ups that figure to an impressive 5,000 pounds.

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9

2020 Buick Enclave

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Buick Enclave has a spacious, high-end interior with good attention to detail.

Stretching 204.3 inches between its bumpers, the 2020 Buick Enclave has a wide-open interior with plenty of room for passengers in all three rows. We rate it at 9 out of 10, giving it points for its front, middle, and third row seats, its cargo capacity, and above-average materials. It doesn’t quite feel like a luxury SUV, but it’s close. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2020 Enclave’s front seats boast good support and are separated by a wide center console. Power adjustment is standard, even with the cloth upholstery fitted to base models. Leather-upholstered and heated seats are optional, while massaging front seats are newly available for 2020. 

Row two features buckets that slide forward and back, plus good head room even on moonroof-equipped models. The passenger-side second-row bucket tips forward for easier access to the third row. We wish the same feature was added to the driver-side second-row bucket, too. Once back there, even adults will find decent space in the third row, though head room is compromised. 

The Enclave can swallow nearly 98 cubic feet of cargo with all three rows tucked flat. A 3.1 cubic-foot bin under the cargo floor expands capacity even more.  

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2020 Buick Enclave

Safety

Active safety tech that really should be standard by now is frustratingly optional on the 2020 Buick Enclave.

Independent testers haven’t finished smacking the 2020 Buick Enclave against a wall yet, so we’ll have to hold off on assigning a score here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

When we do, we’ll already dock the 2020 Enclave a point for Buick’s frustrating insistence on making active safety tech standard on rivals that cost half as much a costly option. Automatic emergency braking is now standard on the Enclave Premium and Avenir, but it is not available on the Preferred or Essence trim levels.  

The feds have weighed in and rate the Enclave at five stars overall, albeit four stars for frontal crash and four in the calculated rollover risk assessment. The IIHS has not tested the 2020 Enclave. 

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2020 Buick Enclave

Features

The 2020 Enclave is well-equipped at almost every level, aside from Buick’s frustrating insistence on locking some trim levels out of certain features.

The 2020 Buick Enclave costs about $41,200 to start, but versions we recommend are considerably more expensive.

Overall, we rate the 2020 Enclave at 7 out of 10, giving it points for its luxurious options and its good infotainment software. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base Enclave Preferred comes only with front-wheel drive and offers a limited color palette. If you’re a sun-belter, it’s a good value with its standard power-adjustable and heated front seats, power liftgate, and three-zone automatic climate control. Its tech story is good, too: Standard gear includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot, and GM’s OnStar safety and concierge service. 

We recommend bypassing the $43,200 Enclave Essence and jumping instead to the $49,600 Premium trim, especially if all-wheel drive (another $2,300) is important. Not only does the Premium offer a more effective all-wheel-drive system than the system optional in the Essence, it includes automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors in addition to leather upholstery, massaging front seats, and a Bose audio system. 

The range-topping Enclave Avenir is mostly a styling package, though its available adaptive dampers may be worth a test drive. At around $60,000 with every option selected, the swankiest of Enclaves doesn’t strike us as a great value, however. 

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2020 Buick Enclave

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Buick Enclave could use a thriftier powertrain option.

The 2020 Buick Enclave will guzzle its way through a tank of regular unleaded gasoline with remarkable speed, unfortunately. We rate it at 4 out of 10 and wish that it offered a hybrid powertrain like those now available on rivals such as the Ford Explorer and Acura MDX. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With front-wheel drive, the Enclave is rated at 18 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. Opt for all-wheel drive and it dips to 17/25/20 mpg, figures that are toward the bottom of its class. 

The hybrid Acura MDX comes in at 27 mpg combined, while even non-hybrid rivals such as the Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent are rated between 22 and 23 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. 

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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6.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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