2021 Buick Enclave

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
September 25, 2020

Buying tip

The Enclave gets appreciably better with more money. Stretch out the pocketbook and start at the Enclave Premium.

features & specs

AWD 4-Door Avenir
AWD 4-Door Essence
AWD 4-Door Premium
17 city / 25 hwy
17 city / 25 hwy
17 city / 25 hwy

The 2021 Buick Enclave is the smoother, smothering three-row crossover in GM’s stable.

What kind of SUV is the 2021 Buick Enclave? What does it compare to?

We’ll whisper it here so General Motors can’t hear us in Detroit: The 2021 Buick Enclave may be the best luxury three-row SUV GM makes.

That’s because its big crossover body gives the Enclave plenty of space and a supple ride. It competes against the Acura MDX, and Mazda CX-9, but also against the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Cadillac XT6.

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Is the 2021 Buick Enclave a good SUV?

Yep. It earns a 6.5 TCC Rating. That’s due to a comfortable interior and good trim levels, but lack of automatic emergency braking is a boat anchor on the Enclave’s score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Buick Enclave?

Not much. The 2021 Enclave is nearly identical to the 2020 version, and still offered in Preferred, Essence, Premium, and Avenir trim levels.

All Enclaves are powered by a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 that drives the front or all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. The ride’s sublime, even on 20-inch wheels, and the cabin is quiet.

All-wheel drive is available on every trim except base Preferred, but the uprated system offered on Premium or Avenir is our pick for all-weather confidence.

Up to seven will fit within the Buick’s big body, in relative comfort, too. Leather upholstery is standard on every Enclave above the base version, and heated front seats are standard on all models.

Adults will fit best in rows one and two, although three should be reserved for children or adults who act like children.

With all the seats in place, the Enclave carries more than 20 cubic feet of cargo, which is good.

Not good: Automatic emergency braking isn’t available on Preferred and Essence models. It’s standard on Premium and Avenir versions and includes active lane control and blind-spot monitors.

How much does the 2021 Buick Enclave cost?

Starting around $42,000, the Buick Enclave is best in Premium trim, which costs about $50,000, where automatic emergency braking is standard and an upgraded all-wheel-drive system is available.

Every Enclave is equipped with 18-inch wheels or larger, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and three rows of seats. Most will include leather upholstery and a plusher interior.

Where is the Buick Enclave made?

The Buick Enclave is assembled near Lansing, Michigan.


2021 Buick Enclave


Subtle and svelte aren’t two words we typically use for big crossovers, but we do for the Enclave.

Is the Buick Enclave a good-looking car?

Sure is. The shape is hardly unique, but the Buick Enclave shines in its execution. The small details are sharp, and judicious use of chrome goes a long way. It gets a 7 on our scale thanks to a good interior and exterior.

There’s a hint of Coke-bottle curves in the Enclave’s swoopy rear fenders. Up front, the wide grille wears a narrow band of chrome and a floating badge that Cadillac’s designers could learn something from.

In back, the Enclave carves out exhaust ports to give the big Buick a stronger look.

Inside, the Enclave isn’t a technophile’s interpretation of luxury—it’s understated and simple, without being too simplistic.

The curved dashboard is wrapped in soft materials, and its 8.0-inch touchscreen is impressive—but not overwhelming.

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2021 Buick Enclave


The Enclave’s gift is a great ride.

Gifted with a great ride, the 2021 Enclave’s best performance metric is how many consecutive naps we can take in the rear seat on a daylong drive. The answer? Many.

It’s a 6 for performance here based on smooth power and a smoother ride.

Every Enclave is powered by a 310-hp V-6 shifted through a 9-speed automatic. It’s not the most efficient combo, nor is it the most refined, but it keeps pace on the highway and the engine’s grumble is muted through Buick’s active noise cancellation.

Is the Buick Enclave 4WD?

Front-wheel drive is standard on all Enclaves, and two all-wheel-drive systems are offered. The first, which is available on the Essence trim, is a more basic setup. On Premium and Avenir models, Buick subs in a twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system that can shuttle power from right to left across the rear tires for better grip. We recommend it for four-season states.

How fast is the Buick Enclave?

For a crossover that weighs more than two tons, the Enclave is adequate—not fast.

That’s more in line with its worldview anyway. The soft-riding, tall (gasp) family wagon is built for comfort, not speed. The base suspension setup is soft, and not adept for when roads get complicated, but the spend-up adaptive dampers on Avenir trims can be—relatively speaking.

When driven at a more relaxed pace, the Enclave pays out. Its steering is responsive and quick, although not very firm.

When properly equipped, the Enclave can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

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2021 Buick Enclave

Comfort & Quality

With space for up to seven, the Enclave begs for a crowd.

Comfort is in the 2021 Enclave’s gameplan like recliners and Sunday naps.

It’s a 9 for comfort thanks to great stretch out space, good cargo capacity, and classy materials. The last point for perfection costs a lot more—the Enclave is good without it.

Measuring 204.3 inches from bumper to bumper, the Enclave will be a tight fit in many garages. Once aboard, we can see why it would be.

There’s good space for the first two rows of seats, which are all captain’s chairs on all models. (For a second-row bench, consider the related Chevy Traverse.) Cloth upholstery is standard only on base versions; every other Enclave gets leather hides.

The front seats are power-adjustable and heated on all versions, while top trims get heated, cooled, and massaging buckets.

The second-row seats can be heated as well and offer 38.9 inches of rear seat leg room, which should be enough for long legs.

The third row seats up to three, although medium-size adults or larger had better all be on more than just a first-name basis. The wayback only offers 33.5 inches of leg room, which isn’t ideal for anyone taller than 6 feet.

The Enclave carries up to 97.6 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded, or 23.6 cubic feet with all three rows in place.

Most of the Enclave’s materials are high quality and fitting for its price. They’re quiet, comfortable, and spacious, or in other words: perfect for a road trip.

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2021 Buick Enclave


Standard automatic emergency braking would raise this score.

How safe is the Buick Enclave?

Without standard automatic emergency braking on all models, the 2021 Buick Enclave won’t make it far up our safety scale.

Federal testers gave it a five-star overall score, which is encouraging, but noted four stars for front and rollover crash protection. (The latter is common among tall SUVs.)

The IIHS gives it mostly “Good” ratings but hasn’t subjected the Enclave to its small-overlap crash tests on the driver or passenger side.

Automatic emergency braking is standard on Enclave Premium and Avenir models, but not available on others. That’s a shame; nearly all three-row family crossovers from major manufacturers make it standard on all versions.

The top Enclave Avenir includes standard automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system. Adaptive cruise control is available as an option.

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2021 Buick Enclave


Every Enclave is well-equipped.

The 2021 Buick Enclave costs about $42,000 to start but gets better with more money thrown at it.

It’s a 7 on our features scale thanks to a good infotainment screen and top-shelf packages that load on comfy extras.

Which Buick Enclave should I buy?

Not the Enclave Preferred, which is the low price shoppers may see on billboards. The Enclave Preferred is front-wheel drive only, with a limited palette of colors, and few options. It’s equipped with 18-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three-zone automatic climate control, and a wi-fi hotspot.

We’d walk past the next Enclave Essence and start with the Enclave Premium, which costs nearly $50,000. That’s because the Premium trim is the most affordable Enclave with automatic emergency braking, which is a must-have for a family vehicle. (We wished it were standard on all models.)

The Enclave Premium also includes premium audio, heated and cooled front seats with massagers, active noise cancellation, six USB ports, second-row captain’s chairs, leather upholstery, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, parking sensors, and a power liftgate. All-wheel drive is optional, and costs $2,300 more.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Buick Enclave?

Enclave Avenirs ride softly into Cadillac country, and we’re fine with that. For about $55,000 to start with front-wheel drive, the Enclave Avenir coddles with softer leather, a surround-view camera system, 20-inch wheels, a wireless smartphone charger, and a panoramic sunroof. There are good options including adaptive dampers and tow packages. It can ring up a $60,000 final price, which isn’t a good value—but luxury cars aren’t usually good deals. 

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2021 Buick Enclave

Fuel Economy

The Enclave lags others for gas mileage.

Is the Buick Enclave good on gas?

For a big car, the 2021 Buick Enclave isn’t fuel-efficient. But for a small school bus, it’s great on gas mileage.

The EPA says the 2021 Enclave with all-wheel drive manages 17/25/20 mpg, which is near the bottom of its class. With front-wheel drive, those numbers each improve by 1 mpg.

Generally speaking, three-row crossovers manage combined gas mileage in the low- to mid-20s. The Honda Pilot hovers around 22 mpg, which the Ford Explorer Hybrid manages 25 mpg with all-wheel drive.

When carrying a crowd, the Enclave isn’t bad. When it’s just for two, there are more efficient options.

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MSRP based on FWD 4-Door Preferred
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Expert Rating
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Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 6
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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