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Buick
Enclave
2018
Go
Andrew Davis
Automotive Editor - January 10, 2018

2018 Buick Enclave OVERVIEW

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:

Base

Comes fully equipped with second-row captain's chairs, power front seats, a power liftgate, tri-zone climate control, remote start, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and integrated smartphone apps. Also included in the $39,990 price are 18-inch wheels and xenon headlamps. The Convenience comes with front-wheel drive only.

One look at the 1SV’s standard equipment sheet, however, shows that "base" means something different at Buick and that the MSRP is money well spent inside and out. In addition to the model-wide whiz-bangs already covered, it sports heated front seats, perimeter locking and remote start, tri-zone automatic climate controls, rear air conditioning, a theft-deterrent system with engine immobilizer and alarm, a 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster for monitoring vehicle functions (including tire pressure, fuel range, and more), a leather-wrapped steering wheel on a a tilt-and-telescope steering column, carpeted floor mats for all three rows, a rear-view camera, and rear parking sensors.

Outside one gets a hands-free power-programmable automatic liftgate, heated and power-adjustable mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, 18-inch wheels, roof rails, and LED lights all around, including the Enclave’s fancy "signature" running lamps.

Less care was taken when coming up with the 1SV’s color choices, though, as inside it’s dark gray cloth upholstery or nothing, whether one picks that always-free white or either black or metallic silver ($395 each). Consider the color choice carefully, however, as it’s the only option available to 1SV buyers that’s not an accessory installed by the dealer.

Essence

The practical entry point into Enclave ownership is the $45,210 (plus $2,000 for all-wheel drive) Essence model. That's $4,220 more than the 1SV with which it shares so much.

This is no doubt due to what it doesn't share, like leather upholstery – something most Buick loyalists (and even outsiders) likely assume this flagship has, especially one with a near-$50,000 sticker price – as it makes its first appearance in the Essence (and as it’s perforated and in one of three colors). Unlike the 1SV, the “fun” isn’t over yet as there are now options and packages to be had, including a $1,400 panoramic sunroof, and identically-priced 20-inch wheels for AWD Essences.

Package-wise, tick the $650 Trailering Package box if you're planning on towing anything. It doesn’t include all the equipment required – as it’s nothing more than a hitch and a heavy-duty engine cooling system – but you'll need it to exploit the Enclave's 5,000-pound tow rating.

Fortunately for all involved, the individual options list is far more interesting, but harder in ways than it has to be. Want navigation? Easy. That’s a $595 upgrade to that infotainment system all Enclaves share. An $825 Rear Camera Mirror is a nifty touch that blends the rear-view mirror with a high-definition camera to display an unhindered view from behind. It also adds a surround-view camera system.

Premium

It is at this point where the Buick of old would have started, with all the standard luxury, comfort, and convenience items included and at a price just low enough so as to not trod on Cadillac’s toes. Today that means $49,010 for front-drive plus or $51,310 for all-wheel drive.

Putting all-wheel drive aside, the Premium does make a good case for its price. Included in that near-$50,000 are things like a 10-speaker Bose audio system, ventilated front seats with heating for the now power-adjustable steering wheel, heated rear seats, a power-fold third-row – giving the Enclave a nearly-flat floor for hauling with the manually-controlled second-row folded, too – plus the usual conglomeration of safety-related acronyms.

These include forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist with lane departure warning, a following distance indicator, and front pedestrian braking. And while it’s not cheap, if one adds the price of all that equipment piecemeal to the MSRP of an Essence, for example, the Premium trim’s price tag seems as much of a bargain as a $50k Buick can be.

Avenir

“Avenir” is French for “future,” and judging by the bushelful of front-line tech this trim is laden with, it’s fitting. But Buick didn’t just stuff its flagship with everything the brand could think of. That was the Premium just discussed. No, Buick has gone so far as to call the two Avenir models – a LaCrosse sedan-based Avenir beat the Enclave to market by a few months – “the highest expression of Buick luxury.”

And for the $5,400 premium Buick demands over the, um, Premium – creating a “base” MSRP of $54,410 – the Enclave Avenir had well better be.

Now, there’s nothing on this Enclave that screams “Avenir here!” in the way the multi-holed chrome grille instantly indicates one is looking at a Denali-spec GMC, but GM did go so far as to revamp the vehicle with unique interior and exterior styling changes, including an “exclusive 3D mesh grille paired with chrome wings inspired by Buick concept cars.”

A less purple version of the “Avenir Package” prose says it contains the following: Unique upper and lower grilles, “Pearl Nickel Finish” 20-inch wheels, and front door badging, an exclusive tan interior with black piping and contrast stitching, the Avenir-logo embroidered in the front headrests and floor mats, and Avenir branded sill plates for all four doors. Mahogany wood accents are on the steering wheel, while owners can grab one of five “premium” exterior paints.

The only real option is the $2,095 Avenir Technology Package, which adds adaptive cruise control, forward automatic emergency braking, active shutters for the front grille, and an improved suspension package.

CarsDirect Tip

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.

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