2018 Buick Enclave First Review
The redesigned 2018 Buick Enclave reinforces its position as the flagship of the division’s lineup, bringing fresh styling, a larger footprint and a new upscale trim level. These changes will help solidify the Enclave as a premium 3-row crossover SUV that’s a cut above more mainstream offerings and is well-positioned to compete with established luxury models like the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60.
It’s been 10 years since the first Enclave was introduced, and other than minor facelifts along the way, the basic package has remained unchanged. With this total redesign, Buick built on the vehicle’s strengths, including its quiet tuning, competent handling and upscale looks.
The 2018 Buick Enclave is offered in three trim levels – base, Essence and Premium – while the range topping model carries its own name, the Enclave Avenir.
The Enclave retains its fluid, flowing sheetmetal that sets it apart from boxier crossovers and sports new proportions with a lower roofline, more steeply raked windshield and a longer wheelbase. Gone is the waterfall grille that had been a Buick signature cue, replaced by a more conventional opening with a large wing and Buick tri-shield logo. Chrome accents include new front fender vents, adding to the upscale aura.
“Every detail of the all-new Enclave is designed to feel premium, well-crafted and integrated,” said Helen Emsley, executive director of Global Buick and GMC Design. “Customers in feedback clinics have described it as having a sleek appearance, which isn’t typically a word associated with 3-row SUVs.”
The lighting makes extensive use of LEDs that use Evonik Acrylite to create compound curves in the elements, adding to the Enclave's distinctive look. LEDs are used for running lights, headlamp projectors and the taillights.
Interior design and utility
The 2018 Enclave rides on a 120.9-inch wheelbase and measures 204.3 inches in overall length. Both wheelbase and length are increased by more than 2 inches, which translates to more second- and third-row legroom. Buick says the third row alone offers 5.4 more inches of legroom than the Acura MDX, 4.3 inches more than the Audi Q7 and nearly 3 inches more than the Infiniti QX60. Despite having a longer wheelbase, the turning radius of the Enclave is 1.4 feet tighter than the previous model.
Like the exterior, the interior features clean, flowing shapes and a layered look to the dash that incorporates a padded surface set off by chrome and wood accents. There’s a large 8-inch screen in the center of the dash, while the driver’s side has electronic analog gauges. The comfortable front bucket seats are separated by a large center console with a huge storage bin.
The new Enclave is offered exclusively with second-row bucket seats, which combine with a three-position third row to deliver seating for seven passengers. The back row is accessed fairly easily via flip and fold second row seats.
The larger package has 10-percent more cubic feet of overall interior space including hidden underfloor storage. Even with the third row up, there’s 23.6 cubic feet of space behind. Both the second and third rows fold flat.
Despite being larger overall than the previous generation, the 2018 Buick Enclave doesn’t feel big when you drive it. The seating position has good visibility and the 3.6-liter V6, from which Buick estimates output of 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, is ample enough to get the 4,358-pound front-drive base model rolling quickly. Buick lists the 0-60 mph acceleration of the front-drive models at a surprising 6.4 seconds, while the slightly heavier all-wheel drive version takes 7.1 seconds to reach that speed.
The Enclave rides on a new suspension that features a five-link independent rear. That setup not only helps with the handling, but also because of its compact design, allows for more 3-row room. All-wheel-drive versions also feature an active twin rear clutch that provides torque vectoring to improve traction and handling.
The steering on the Enclave is precise and communicative. The electric variable-assist power steering also features an active return assist feature that gives the steering a lighter touch when unwinding the wheel. The ride is well-damped and comfortable and the vehicle exhibits little in the way of body roll when pushed in corners. Four-wheel disc brakes provide plenty of linear-feel stopping power and the vehicle rides on standard 18-inch wheels, with 20-inch rims optional.
Buick’s attention to noise, vibration and harshness is evident in the use of laminated glass on the windshield and front doors. A stiffer body -- thanks to the use of high strength steel -- plus additional sound deadening material and active noise cancellation combine to make the Enclave’s cabin feel serene but not disconnected from the outside world. While standard towing capacity on the Enclave is 1,500 pounds, the new model also features an optional towing kit that allows it to pull up to 5,000 pounds.
Infotainment and driver assists
The infotainment system includes a standard 8-inch touch screen, Apply CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, one year of OnStar Basic and a 4G LTE hotspot. Among the safety features are a Teen Driver system that allows you to track the vehicle, plus a rear seat reminder that chimes when anything is left in the back. The Enclave is also equipped with a rear vision camera and park assist, while available assists include forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, safety alert seat, following distance indicator and front park assist.
Other standard features include keyless entry and push-button start, a hands-free power programmable liftgate, tri-zone climate control and six USB ports.
At the top of the Enclave model range is the Avenir, the first model of a new premium sub-brand developed by Buick. The Avenir has its own unique 3D mesh grille paired with chrome wings inspired by Buick concept cars. These vehicles also ride on 20-inch wheels with pearl nickel finish, while offering five premium exterior colors and Avenir chestnut and ebony interiors that combine leather, wood and ebony trim.
The Enclave Avenir’s long list of standard features includes heated and ventilated seats, heated second-row seats, navigation, wireless charging for phones, a 360-degree surround view camera, a rear view mirror that can use either a conventional unit or a camera, and a dual moonroof. Options include adaptive cruise control with full-speed stop and go, forward automatic braking, a premium suspension that features continuously variable damping, and a sport model.
The MSRP for the base front drive 2018 Buick Enclave starts 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 $45,190 plus delivery, AWD is $2,000 extra. The Premium costs $48,990 and includes a 10-speaker Bose audio system, second row heated seats, heated steering and front row heated and ventilated seats. AWD Premium models are $51,290. The Avenir begins at $54,390 plus destination and $56,690 with all-wheel drive. Adding the $2,745 technology package to the Avenir pushes the price to $59,435 including delivery.
2018 Buick Enclave Interior and Exterior Gallery
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