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2018 Buick Enclave

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2018 Buick Enclave Expert Review

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It’s been a decade since Buick first introduced the Enclave, a 3-row crossover SUV that arguably has set the standard for the genre. But other than minor facelifts and equipment upgrades, the GM division has done little else to this workhorse. But now, it has totally redesigned the Enclave, added a new range-topping version call Avenir and generally lifted the bar for what buyers can expect in this segment that has some pretty tough competition in the form of the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60 and Mazda CX-9. In fact, with its better packaging and affordable price, it still has enough upscale aura to possibly turn the heads of Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 intenders.

You'll Like This Car If...

The new Enclave may be for you if you need a full-size 3-row crossover SUV that has plenty of room, great visibility and ease of use, and it drives like a much smaller vehicle.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Let's say you’re looking to carry eight passengers. Though the 2018 Enclave is larger than the vehicle it replaces, it has eliminated the 2nd-row bench because of a low take rate from buyers. Unlike other SUVs in the category, it has 2+2+3 seating. While the “way back” is roomy, it can be difficult getting a trio back there.

How It Ranks

#8

out of 16

Fuel Economy

#2

out of 17

Horsepower
View all rankings
What's New for 2018

This is the first major redesign in the vehicle’s history. It rides on an all-new platform, has distinctive and fresh styling and offers a host of new features. The 3.6-liter V6 engine puts out more power and is now mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. And for the first time, Buick is offering a factory-installed towing package that will allow the Enclave to pull up to 5,000 pounds.

Driving the Enclave
Driving Impressions

The all-new Enclave still has the smooth ride of the previous model, but even more so thanks to a 2-inch-longer wheelbase providing a better ride and shorter turning radius. There’s...

... good visibility all around and the V6 now puts out an estimated 310 horsepower, which provides some much needed get-up-and-go. A new 5-link independent rear gives the Enclave sharper response and is tuned to minimize body roll in corners. The electric power steering has an active return assist, which gives the steering a lighter touch when unwinding the wheel. Overall, the handling of the new Enclave is much improved with little or no sacrifice to ride comfort. Available in either front- or all-wheel-drive (FWD, AWD), there’s little to distinguish the two in the driving experience save that the FWD model is quicker off the line thanks to its lighter curb weight. While the Enclave doesn’t deliver the same kind of spirited handling as the Mazda CX-9, it makes up for it in spades by having a much more usable cabin.

INTERIOR SPACE
With its 2-inch-longer wheelbase and tidier packaging of its new independent rear suspension, the Buick Enclave boasts 10 cubic feet more of interior space. Even with the third row up, it has 23.6 cubic feet of storage space behind. Both the second and third rows fold flat to turn it into cavernous cargo hauler.

QUIET TUNING
Quiet Tuning is a Buick hallmark and what distinguished the previous model from the competition. The cabin is downright serene thanks to the attention to detail in controlling noise, vibration and harshness. The laminated glass returns as does the extensive use of sound-deadening material. But also further attention to stiffening the structure through the use of high-strength steel has paid dividends.

2018 Buick Enclave Details
Interior

The interior features a clean, flowing design with a layered look to the dashboard that incorporates a padded surface set off by chrome and wood accents. The large 8-inch screen dominates the center of the dash, and electronic analog gauges are positioned in front of the driver. The comfortable front buckets are divided by a huge center console that has plenty of storage space. Controls are logically arrayed and easy to use in concert with the touch screen. As mentioned, the 2nd-row bench is no more, but there are two comfortable 2nd-row captain’s chairs and the third row has comfortable seating for two, and three in a pinch.

Exterior
2018 Buick Enclave photo

Riding on a 120.9-inch wheelbase and measuring 204.3 inches in overall length, the 2018 Buick Enclave is a big boy and yet the svelte exterior styling takes a bit off that bulk. Gone is the waterfall grille design, a styling cue that has not aged well for Buick. In its place is a more contemporary opening with wings extending from either side of the rather largish Buick tri-shield logo. Step up to the range-topping Avenir and you’ll get a really slick-looking 3D mesh grille. The roofline is sleeker and the overall look is more like a really tall sports wagon than a boxy SUV. Think Mazda CX-9 on a grand scale.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Buick’s new Enclave has three trim levels, base, Essence and Premium. All models feature keyless entry and push-button start, hands-free power-programmable rear liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, universal home remote, six USB ports, OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Standard safety equipment includes a rearview camera, rear park assist, seven airbags, Teen Driver tracking and rear-seat reminder. Step up to an Avenir and you get 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row seats, 360-surround-view camera, a rearview mirror used as a conventional unit or a camera, and a dual moonroof.

Optional Equipment

All-wheel drive is offered as an option on all trim levels except the base model. Options include navigation, upgraded Bose sound system, adaptive cruise control on higher-trim models with full-speed stop-and-go, forward automatic braking, a premium adaptive suspension, heavy-duty cooling, and a sport model.

Under the Hood

The 2018 Buick Enclave has a reworked direct-injection 3.6-liter V6 mated to an all-new 9-speed automatic transmission. Buick estimates EPA fuel economy at 18-mpg city, 26-mpg highway and 21 mpg combined on FWD models, while the AWD versions come in at an estimated 17-mpg city, 25-mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. For comparison, the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 are rated up to 27 mpg for FWD and 26 mpg for AWD. To help bolster fuel economy, the Enclave is equipped with seamless stop/start technology. The powertrain has a base towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, but a new trailer-towing package that includes additional cooling and other tweaks enables the Enclave to have a tow rating of 5,000 pounds.

3.6-liter V6
310 horsepower at 6,800 rpm
266 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg (FWD), 17/25 mpg (AWD)

The base FWD-only 2018 Buick Enclave has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $39,995 plus $975 destination. The Essence, which includes leather seats, lane-change alert, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, is priced from $45,150 plus delivery. AWD is $2,000 extra. Premium models cost $48,990 and include the 10-speaker Bose audio system, while AWD Premium versions are $51,290 plus delivery. The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir comes in at $54,390 plus destination, while the AWD version is $56,690. The Enclave comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty. The 2018 Enclave starts $3,000-$4,000 below the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60, but is priced higher than the Mazda CX-9. The Volvo XC90 starts around $46,500, while Audi’s Q7 is nearly $50,000. 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 retain at least half its value over three years and has been average in its segment for total 5-year cost-to-own.

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