When it comes time at General Motors to dole out those big body-on-frame three-row SUVs everyone loves, Buick – despite being GM’s second-best-selling brand – has always been left wanting. But for 2018, GM’s decided to throw the brand a bone not only in the form of an all-new and embiggened version of its midsize three-row Enclave SUV, but it's granted Buick a sub-brand/top trim level of its own like GMC’s popular Denali (called Avenir) to boot.
What's New for 2018
The Enclave is all-new for 2018.
Choosing Your Buick Enclave
Gone is the last generation’s gawky minivanesque awkwardness and painfully dowdy interior in favor of a smoothly-sculpted shape that – despite being larger in every important dimension inside and out – looks svelter and more stylish than any mass-market crossover The General’s ever built.
The story’s the same on the inside as well, where one will find a multi-tiered dashboard every bit as slick and swoopy as the exterior’s pillarless “floating” roof. But the best interior feature of all – at least for third-row riders – is a health share of legroom (one of the main reasons for upsizing the Enclave in the first place). And thanks to a trick sliding second-row seat on the passenger’s side, accessing that third row is easier than ever.
Enclave prices range from the fleet-special, front-wheel-drive-only Enclave 1SV ($40,990, including $995 destination charge) to the full-boat $56,710 Avenir with all-wheel drive. In between – both price- and equipment-wise – are the $45,210 Essence FWD (all-wheel drive is $2,000 extra) and the $49,010 Premium FWD trim (all-wheel drive is $300 more here, as it is on the Avenir), all – naturally – before any options or accessories are added.
Every Enclave gets the same auto stop/start 3.6-liter V6 with 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque coupled to a nine-speed automatic. The EPA says front-drive versions return 18 mpg city, 26 highway, and 21 combined and 17/25/20 mpg if one opts for the extra-cost all-wheel-drive system, which includes driver-selectable modes and an active twin-clutch rear differential for enhanced grip and stability on slippery surfaces.
And, as weird as it is to say, the Enclave is Buick’s flagship, so it’s no surprise it threw every possible luxury, comfort, convenience, safety, and entertainment feature it could find into the Enclave line.
The one feature that needs no explanation is the latest version of what made many become Buick buyers in the first place: silence. In addition to old-school “QuietTuning” tricks like an acoustic-laminated windshield and front side glass, triple door seals, softer suspension settings, and "special quiet wheels” to keep engine and road noises out of the cabin, Buick’s system also takes a turn for the electronic with an in-cabin microphone and active noise cancellation system that all conspire to cosset the passengers in a cacophony-free cocoon.
Keep in mind, however – as Buick bigwigs surely do – what worked for the Roadmaster and Park Avenue crowd is almost diametrically-opposed to what their younger target audience wants in a vehicle. To that end, every – as in without exception – Enclave boasts a boatload of new tech, including a frameless eight-inch color touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM, and Bluetooth connectivity, six USB ports (two data/charging, four charging), an OnStar/AT&T 4G LTE with wifi hotspot and five free years of OnStar Basic services, plus perimeter locking with push-button start.
Beyond those shared basics and others, Buick offers its Enclaves four ways:
The Enclave shares a powertrain with and is built upon the same bones as Chevy’s Traverse – a vehicle that in certain combinations can be $10,000 less than its Tri-Shield sibling. And yet the Enclave, offers buyers not just the better of the two GM SUVs, but a beauty in its own right. We can’t recommend the all-in Avenir, but the Premium – thanks in no small part to its including most lower-trims’ options as standard and offering its own upgrades and packages – offers buyers the best Buick has to offer without taking a dive into the Avenir range.