2014 Buick Enclave Long-Term Update: Comfort
It should come as no surprise to anybody who knows anything about automobile brands that our long-term 2014 Buick Enclave is one of the most comfortable cars we have in our fleet. It's a BUICK, after all, a brand that built its reputation on gliding down the road in comforting quiet.
But if you're thinking our big Buick SUV bounces down the road like your grandma's old Park Avenue, you'll be surprised to learn that the Enclave goes about its comfort in a very modern way. Like every car, the suspension setup strikes a "ride vs. handling" compromise, because what makes for a comfortable ride generally makes for poor handling, and vice-versa. This Buick's engineers consistently favored "ride," but it's equally clear that the "handling" contingent put up a strong argument. The upshot is a big SUV that smoothly soaks up bumps, but remains remarkably composed on the road, with little of the wallowing, bouncing, and pitching that was once associated with a smooth ride. Complementing that is Buick's "Quiet Tuning," a silly-sounding name for an effective mix of sound-deadening measures, such as laminated glass side windows, that really does make this big SUV's interior quieter than you'd expect.
A quiet interior would be worthless if you had nowhere nice to plant your behind. Buick of course thought this through and provided very comfortable seating for everyone. While the front seats lack side support, this isn't really the kind of vehicle that needs aggressive padding next to your ribs and thighs. Instead, the flat-ish seats are easy to get into and out of. Covered in soft leather in our long-term Enclave, they're adjustable in about a zillion different ways, offer position memory, and are heated and cooled, making them even better for cold mornings or swampy hot days. Along with good control placement and an adjustable steering wheel (with a slightly too-thin rim), the Enclave was perfect for 12-hour driving days when I drove the Enclave from Los Angeles to Oklahoma and back [LINK].
What's better is, not only do second-row passengers get the royal treatment, but third row passengers, even if they're on the tall side, have decent legroom and headroom. Fine, it's not as good as the driver's seat, but it's definitely better than the third row in other SUVs, including GM's own Chevrolet Tahoe.
The Buick Enclave first went on sale in 2007 as a 2008 model, and despite a mild update a couple years ago, it hasn't changed much. The fact that it's still competitive against much newer models says a lot about how right Buick got it in the first place. While it's definitely in need of an update, this big Buick SUV's overall comfort still makes it a compelling choice, especially when it's time for a long road trip.