By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.7
The 2016 Buick Enclave is a large, 3-row crossover SUV that competes with premium rivals like the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. Like those competitors, the Buick offers plenty of amenities and sedan-like driving manners in a vehicle that easily accommodates families and their gear. In addition to offering a more spacious interior, Buick's largest SUV continues to undercut its rivals in starting price and long-term ownership costs. Comfort and quiet are other key traits, but there's no denying the Enclave is getting long in the tooth. Originally introduced nearly a decade ago, the Enclave trails others in fuel economy and the latest technology. An all-new model is likely just around the corner.
If you have roughly $40,000-$50,000 to spend on a large, upscale crossover SUV that can accommodate seven or eight people, the Buick Enclave fills that need in a more value-oriented and less pretentious way than some European rivals.
Despite recent strides, the Buick brand still lacks the cachet of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. The Enclave's rivals are also fresher, boast more efficient and diverse powertrains, and have the latest safety and technological advances such as radar-based cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016 the Buick Enclave 3-row SUV now includes OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi, allowing it to be a hub for wireless devices. Available on the two upper trims is the Enclave Tuscan Edition that includes a bronze-tone grille, bronze accents and 20-inch chrome wheels.
The 2016 Buick Enclave is most notable for a quiet and comfortable ride that distinguishes it as a premium SUV. A long-term test model in our fleet stood out for...
... its easy highway manners. The Enclave's sole powertrain choice – a 288-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 – offers good but not startling acceleration and passing power. And despite the Buick's size and 4,700-pound weight, the V6 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 2016 Buick Enclave 3-row SUV 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 finicky to use. Seven-passenger seating is standard, 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. Base models have cloth seating, while the two higher trims have leather.
The Buick Enclave is larger than most of its 3-row crossover-SUV rivals. At nearly 202 inches it has significant road presence. The Buick's 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.
Even in base form (Convenience), the 2016 Enclave offers significant value. Included are tri-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, a rearview camera with park assist, 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 and OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot (subscription required after trial). Mid-trim Leather Group models add the leather, heated front seats and steering wheel, and blind-spot monitoring. Top-line 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.
Traction-enhancing all-wheel drive (AWD) – always a good option for an SUV that may be used in adverse weather conditions – can be had on the two higher trims of the 2016 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 new Tuscan Edition with bronze accents is available on 2016 Enclaves dressed in the higher Leather and Premium trims.
The 2016 Buick Enclave is powered by a smooth but aging 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 fuel-economy figures are no longer that laudable. For comparison, the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 are rated up to 27 mpg for FWD and 26 mpg for 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: 15/22 mpg
The 2016 Buick Enclave has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $40,000 for the base Convenience trim. Opting for a higher trim, such as the Leather Group, adds many desirable features and starts at a still-digestible $44,585. The top-line Premium Group arrives at $48,440. AWD costs $2,000. Fully loaded, an Enclave SUV can reach the mid-$50,000 range. The Enclave is slightly less expensive than the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60, which start in the mid-$40,000 range, while the Audi Q7 begins over $48,000, the new Volvo XC90 and Lexus GX 460 are around $50,000, and a BMW X5 begins in the mid-$50,000 range. 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, but has been tops in its segment for total 5-year cost-to-own.