By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
The 2015 Buick Enclave is the American brand's answer to luxury 3-row crossover SUVs such as the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Infiniti QX60. Like those upscale family haulers, the Buick is awash with amenities such as plush interiors, premium audio and advanced safety systems. Where the Enclave stands apart from peers is in size and price. As with its mainstream siblings the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, the Enclave is larger than its rivals, making it ideal for those requiring extra space for passengers and cargo. Despite its bigger footprint, the Enclave's sub-$40,000 starting price undercuts rivals by thousands. Buick's 3-row SUV may not have the brand cachet or sleek design of some rivals, but what it lacks in those areas it makes up for in value.
If you want an upscale hauler that can comfortably seat seven or eight people and boasts a quiet, comfortable ride in the $40,000 range, the 2015 Enclave offers good road manners and much vehicle for the money.
Buick's image and sales are rising, but some luxury buyers won't settle for anything less than a European brand such as Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz with a history of badge envy. Those brands also offer higher-mileage diesel-powered luxury SUVs. Acura's MDX, meanwhile, features cutting-edge technology and better fuel economy.
KBB Expert Ratings
Among the minimal changes for the 2015 Enclave are a heated steering wheel on upper-level trims, a dark plum interior color option, and new exterior paint colors.
The 2015 Buick Enclave lives up to its premium SUV image with a quiet and comfortable ride. A long-term test model in our fleet stands out for its easy highway...
... manners. The 3.6-liter V6 and its 288 horsepower offer good – but not startling – acceleration and passing power. And despite the Buick's size and 4,700-pound weight, the engine eagerly propels the big vehicle even up steep mountain passes that make lesser cars wheeze. The Enclave is most adept as a comfortable cruiser, with a soft ride and an insulated cabin that benefits from Buick's "QuietTuning" sound suppression. Conversely, this big Buick isn't one to embrace twisty canyon roads with much enthusiasm. In our time on such switchbacks, it was best to go easy on the throttle.
Not only does the Enclave seat up to eight in comfort, the ingeniously-designed 2nd-row seats, with flip-up cushions and the capability to slide fore-and-aft, make it easy to access the 3rd-row seat or to increase the cargo capacity for those trips home from the big-box store.
Buick’s QuietTuning method of in-vehicle noise reduction may sound like marketing hype, but there is actually something to it. At higher speeds the SUV's interior remains delightfully calm and free of the racket that can fatigue occupants on long drives.
Step into the 2015 Buick Enclave and you'll see a handsome front panel with stylized instrument faces and clean integration of the IntelliLink touch-screen display. The display blends hard buttons and touch-based controls, the latter of which can be – if you'll excuse the pun – too touchy, especially when you're driving at freeway speeds. Seven-passenger seating is standard across the line, with an 8-passenger setup an option in the two higher trims. The former has two captain's chairs in the second row, while the latter uses a bench. Legroom is generous even in the third row, as is rear cargo space.
At nearly 202 inches, the Enclave is a large SUV with road presence. Its exterior lines are rounded and handsome overall, though not everyone's eyes will favor its hump-like rear. Among the more favorable design cues are Buick's elegant "waterfall" grille in front and big, oblong exhaust outlets at rear. Standard roof-mounted luggage racks add a degree of ruggedness with their practicality, and an available power moonroof with fixed sunlight for rear passengers helps bring the outdoors inside. One the Enclave's most useful features is its standard power-operated liftgate, a real arm-saver.
In base form (Convenience), the 2015 Buick Enclave offers a lot for the money. That trim includes tri-zone climate control, power front seats, a rearview camera with park assist, 18-inch wheels, high-intensity headlights, and an AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with a 6.5-inch touch screen and Buick's Intellilink system to connect smartphones. Mid-trim Leather Group models add – you guessed it – leather, heated front seats and steering wheel, and blind-spot monitoring. Top-trim Premium models have heated and cooled front seats, 10-speaker Bose audio and a forward-collision warning system. New Buicks also include two years/24,000 miles of scheduled maintenance and six years/70,000 miles of roadside assistance.
Traction-enhancing all-wheel drive (AWD) – always a utility plus for an SUV – can be had on the two higher trims of the 2015 Enclave instead of the standard front-wheel drive (FWD). Other upgrades vary by trim and include a Bose premium sound system with navigation, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones, a power moonroof with rear skylight, and 19- and 20-inch wheel options.
The 2015 Buick Enclave is powered by a smooth 3.6-liter V6 linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-drive models earn up to 24 mpg, while AWD models muster up to 22 mpg. As other SUV competitors become more efficient, those figures are no longer that laudable. The Acura MDX is rated up to 28 mpg for FWD or 27 mpg for AWD, while the Infiniti QX60 gets 26 (FWD) and 25 mpg (AWD). A diesel-powered Audi Q7 also easily bests the Enclave with a highway rating of 28 mpg. While the Enclave's Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia SUV brothers are rated to tow up to 5,200 pounds, the Buick is rated at 4,500. Unlike some premium gasoline-drinking luxury rivals, however, the Enclave is happy running on regular unleaded.
288 horsepower at 6,300 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg (FWD), 16/22 mpg (AWD)
The 2015 Buick Enclave has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $40,000 for the base Convenience trim. Most buyers opt for a higher trim, such as the Leather Group that starts at just over $44,000 or the top-line Premium Group that arrives at around $48,000. Adding AWD costs $2,000. Fully loaded, a 2015 Enclave SUV can reach the mid-$50,000 range. The Enclave is slightly less expensive than the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60, which start around $43,000, while the Audi Q7 begins over $48,000, the Lexus GX 460 is around $50,000 and a BMW X5 begins at about $54,000. To get the best deal, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Enclave is expected to have average resale value in the years ahead, trailing standouts such as the Infiniti QX60 and Lexus GX 460.