Coming into its second year after a major update, the 2019 Buick Enclave remains a good looking three-row crossover that's a great option for larger families who want to avoid the existential horror that comes with owning a minivan. In true Buick fashion, the Enclave slots in between the standard economy cars and full-on luxury vehicles, offering a slightly more affordable brand of luxury that can be compelling to those who can't quite justify a more prestigious badge.

Best Value

For 2019, the best value remains with the Premium trim, as it's very well equipped yet it manages to secure a starting price of just under $50,000. The Premium trim includes great features like a Bose 10-speaker audio system, forward collision warning, automatic heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, low-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, and real leather. All-wheel drive doesn't add much to the Enclave, so we'd pass in order to save money.

Because the Enclave is born to be a kid-hauler, we'd choose the Buick Interior Protection Package to protect the carpets from muddy cleats with all-weather floor mats. We'd also get the power moonroof and rear skylight to bathe the interior in natural light, and because we don't want white paint, we'd add the Black Cherry Metallic paint, which costs a premium like all of the Enclave's paint choices except white.

Here's how we'd build our Enclave:

  • Model: 2019 Buick Enclave Premium
  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6
  • Output: 310 hp / 266 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 18 City / 26 Hwy
  • Options: Buick Interior Protection Package ($250, all-weather floor mats, all-weather cargo mat), Power Moonroof with Rear Fixed Skylight ($1,400), Black Cherry Metallic Paint ($395)
  • Base Price: $49,095 (including a $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $51,140

Performance

Buick Enclave

Believe it or not, the 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 that powers the Enclave can make it move surprisingly quickly for a large crossover, allowing it to hit 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. This is probably irrelevant to most buyers in this segment, but the result is effortless highway merges on short on-ramps. The nine-speed automatic transmission helps provide a smooth drive, as it shifts quickly without drama, and it doesn't spend time nervously hunting for a better gear. The power of the engine makes it capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds if properly equipped, but the trade off is, predictably, poor gas mileage of only 21 miles per gallon combined.

All-wheel drive is optional on most trims, and Premium and Avenir models receive a system that includes a differential to send power to where it's needed, as opposed to using the brakes like the Essence model. In the corners, the Enclave's suspension keeps the body roll to a minimum, and the steering is accurate enough to give a surprising amount of confidence on twistier roads. Higher trims get an adaptive suspension system to further tailor the vehicle to road conditions and the driver's mood.

If you're looking for a mean, growling vehicle that makes you think you're behind the wheel of a sports car, the Enclave isn't it. Instead, the Enclave makes use of Buick's famous Quiet Tuning philosophy, with active noise cancellation and a significant amount of sound deadening material crammed into every nook and cranny.

Style

The Buick Enclave is one of the best looking vehicles the company has ever made. The sweeping lines feel upscale and classy, while evoking the sensation of perpetual momentum. Sure, it may just be a family-hauling crossover, but you can tell that Buick's designers took time in crafting the Enclave's shape. It honestly wouldn't be a stretch to call this one of the most beautiful SUVs on the road today.

The deliberate attention to design carries into the interior as well. Even the base trim level looks upscale by forgoing the bean-counter cheapness that historically plagued General Motors, while higher-priced models get several choices of leather seats and trim. The Avenir takes this idea to the next level with open-pore wood and unique color choices.

The Enclave is buit to be a very comfortable vehicle. The front seats are made to be supportive and relaxing over longer road trips, and the rear captain's chairs both recline and slide back and forth. Even the "way-back" offers enough room for adults, although the use of the third row significantly cuts down on rear cargo space. However, if the third seats are folded, you're left with 58 cubic feet of room for cargo.

The Best and Worst Things

Buick Enclave

The Buick Enclave is a really great looking vehicle, but its greatest asset is the the amount of features that are available that are smart additions for a family-focused SUV. When compared with true luxury brand SUVs like you'd see from Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, or even Cadillac, the Enclave is a great deal.

The primary fault of the Enclave is still its fuel economy. When driving around the city, 18 mpg can get expensive over time, and many automakers have figured out that adding a turbo-four can get more efficiency for the same amount of power as a naturally-aspirated V6.

Right For? Wrong For?

The Buick Enclave is perfect for larger families that like to road trim, as three rows with captain's chairs is about as perfect of a configuration as you can get for the adventure. The Enclave is very comfortable over distances, and will swallow up miles of open highway.

On the other hand, if you can't quite afford an Enclave, it's not worth it to push your budget. The Chevy Traverse is built off of the same platform, and will offer many of the same features and room for a significantly cheaper price.

The Bottom Line

As consumers flock to SUVs and crossovers, the Buick Enclave has been thrust into the position of Buick's flagship vehicle. Thankfully, it's more than capable of filling this role as it's a great looking and well appointed mid-size crossover that's a serious contender. All in all, it's a great choice for families in need of a people-mover, and is well worth checking out if you're in the market.