Class: Premium Midsize Crossover
Miles driven: 634
Fuel used: 33.4 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 19.0 mpg
Driving mix: 30% city, 70% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 17/25/20 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Base price: $50,315 (not including $975 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Dual moonroof ($1400), 20-inch alloy wheels ($1400), rear-camera mirror with surround vision ($825), trailering equipment ($650), navigation system ($495), special paint ($395)
Price as tested: $56,455
The great: Excellent passenger and cargo room, good road manners for a large vehicle
The good: Nicely finished interior
The not so good: Top-line trim levels are pricey
The 2018 Buick Enclave is part Chevrolet Traverse and part Buick concept car, but one thing the 3-row premium-midsize SUV is in total is new.
After 10 years in its original form, more or less, the second-generation Enclave shares its basic platform with the also-new Traverse. Wheelbase grows by 1.9 inches to 120 inches, and the Enclave is a little wider than before. What really sets it apart from its Chevy cousin is flowing, “windswept” body sculpting and a hexagonal “necklace” grille, touches cribbed from the Buick Avista and Avenir concept cars of recent years. There’s more power from the 3.6-liter V6 engine and a new 9-speed automatic transmission, and the Enclave catches up to some of the latest technology features that have been taking root in competitors’ vehicles.
Front-wheel-drive Enclaves come in four trim levels: base, Essence, Premium, and Avenir—the last being Buick’s new luxury sub-brand. (Think GMC Denali and you’ll get the idea). All but the base model are available with selectable all-wheel drive. Consumer Guide® sampled a Premium with AWD, which contributed $2300 to the test vehicle’s $50,315 starting price.
Among the things that fee fetches are 18-inch alloy wheels; lane-change, blind-zone, and rear cross-traffic alerts; hands-free height-programmable liftgate; LED headlights; heated power-folding mirrors with turn-signal indicators; and roof rails. The cabin comes with a 10-speaker Bose Premium sound system, HD and satellite radio, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, frameless touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, keyless entry and starting, front and rear park assist, six USB ports, and tri-zone automatic climate control. Upholstery is leather, and front seats are heated and ventilated while middle row seats are heated. The 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat has memory settings, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated.
Premium is the level at which many of-the-moment safety features become standard equipment. They include forward-collision alert, front-pedestrian braking, low-speed forward automatic braking, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, a vibrating safety-alert driver’s seat, following-distance indicator, and automatic high-beam headlights. Avenir standards like 20-inch wheels, dual moonroof, and navigation are extra-cost items on the Enclave Premium, and were added to our test truck, which peaked at $56,455 with all options and delivery.
The Enclave is a comfortable and roomy people-hauler. Seats provide good support in the front and middle rows, though those in the third row aren’t padded as well in the backrests. The center seats are captain’s chairs with flipper armrests. As such, the Buick version of this vehicle seats a maximum of seven, while the Chevy boasts eight. Access to the third row can be managed by shimmying between the second-row seats, but it’s a lot easier by releasing the forward-tilting right-side seat.
Occupants of the first two rows will have little trouble finding good stretch-out room. One benefit of the expanded wheelbase is supposed to be more third-row space. Depending on where middle-row folks set their seats, there can be acceptable adult legroom in the back—or there cannot. Headroom is OK in the third row, but not as abundant as it is further forward. Oh, and that 7-passenger rating is predicated on getting three people on the back 60/40 split bench. To do that, the three have to be kids.
Cargo capacity is another Enclave bright spot. Some three-row SUVs leave little space for luggage or groceries when all seats are in use, but the Buick provides a healthy 23.6 cubic feet aft of the third row. Plus, the floor panel lifts to reveal a deep and wide space for additional items. The rear seats drop (with power assist in the Premium) to form a large, flat load floor, and with the middle-row seats down, the cargo hold is positively cavernous—though there are gaps around the seats.
Soft-touch materials are in ample evidence in the cabin. Even the upper couple inches on the edges of the center console are covered in puffy stuff, a place where many vehicles (even some pricey ones) are content to use grained plastic. While the audio system presented no challenges to quickly and intuitively entering presets—ahhhhh—manual tuning requires tapping away at repetitive-push buttons. Physical climate controls sit low in the dash and use many small buttons that are hard to find at a glance. Fortunately, a climate window can be accessed on the touchscreen to get fan, temperature, and mode settings in a hurry.
The dash has an arty design with a broad underslung arc—to this driver it looks like a big grin. Anybody who needs to use the glove box won’t be smiling, though. To fit under the big swoop, the glove box sits very low, making it tough to access. The central console box is roomy, and there are pockets in all four doors and pouches on the backs of the front seats. Two covered cup holders are provided in the console, and third-row denizens will find a cup holder and small open bin in each sidewall.
There was a nice heft to the steering, and a buttoned-down ride with no hops, skips, or jumps. Unlike the Traverse, which has a choice of engines, the Enclave comes solely with the 3.6-liter V6 that now makes 310 horsepower, albeit at a lofty 6800 rpm. Peak torque, 266 lb-ft of it, arrives at 2800 revs, so standing starts come off with a modicum of authority. Aided by the new 9-speed automatic transmission, it cruises fairly quietly and easily on the highway. Maximum towing capacity is up to 5000 pounds. EPA fuel-mileage projections with AWD are 17 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway, and 20 combined. (Front-drivers are one mpg better across the board.) In a 124.2-mile test, this reviewer averaged a middling 17.37 mpg with 54 percent of the trip in city-type driving.
On balance, the updated Buick Enclave is equal parts comfortable, spacious, and feature-laden. That makes it a very complete package.
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