Smooth operator. If there’s one word that sums up ownership of the seven-seater Buick Enclave, it’s "smooth." Everything about this SUV crossover feels sleek and refined, from those fluid side profile lines to the supple ride quality on anything less than the largest 20-inch wheels. There’s a lovely tactile quality to the standard leather seats, especially with the softer hides fitted in range-topping Avenir models. The central front armrest is large enough to change a baby’s diaper on, while the swooping dash has more character than many vehicles in this category.

One aesthetic point – in white, the front of the Enclave bears a striking resemblance to a Stormtrooper. That may or may not appeal, but it’s worth considering when you’re in the dealership choosing your options.

Winning the space race. The Enclave’s sense of suave sophistication is particularly evident when you open the rear doors to reveal two armrest-equipped captain’s chairs, each offering almost 39 inches of legroom. Three adults can be comfortably accommodated behind them, while those up front get to keep an eye on younger occupants with an available rear camera mirror.

People-carriers don’t always offer enough luggage space for a full complement of passengers, but the Enclave’s BMW-style power liftgate opens to reveal 24 cubic feet of cargo. This can be quadrupled with judicious seat adjustment, though there’s a slight hump before objects start sliding across the (otherwise pretty flat) load space.

2023 Buick Enclave Interior

Faster than it looks. You wouldn’t expect a seven-seat, 204-inch long people mover to offer much in the way of driving pleasure. Consequently, the Enclave’s road manners come as a welcome surprise, especially considering how refined the ride is. The steering is responsive, there’s good grip, and only body lean spoils an otherwise impressive dynamic package. We also appreciate how much sound deadening has been employed.

The 3.6-liter V6 engine deserves praise, too. It pulls strongly even with a full complement of passengers and can tow a trailer weighing up to 5,000 lb. Power is delivered consistently across the rev range, with no turbo lag to spoil proceedings, and the nine-speed automatic transmission overcomes a dodgy lever to lay its power down smoothly. Front-wheel drive means you don’t need to upgrade to AWD for wet-weather traction – it’s a $2,000 upgrade on all trims. Fuel economy is only marginally worse with all four wheels driven since even FWD Enclaves struggle to better 21 mpg combined.

The lap of luxury. This three-model range starts with the $44,500 Enclave Essence trim, whose highlights include heated leather seats and a smartphone-mirroring eight-inch touchscreen. Premium models largely justify their $7,500 uptick with a Bose audio system, head-up display, and ventilated front seats, among other goodies. However, we’d stop short of Avenir trim – its giant sunroof and adaptive cruise are welcome, but not worth the $56,000 sticker price. One disappointment is that this is the first Enclave to receive automatic wipers – a strange omission on an otherwise generously-equipped vehicle.

Final thoughts. There are plenty of reasons why you might choose an Enclave over a Mazda CX-9 or a Subaru Ascent. Fine cars though these Japanese rivals are, the Enclave has a sense of occasion rarely seen in a car starting at $45,000 in base trim. Base is a relative word here since even Essence models are spacious and comfortable. The ride is excellent, while the engine and transmission work in harmony. It’s also good to see standard safety extending to active lane control, blind-spot monitoring, and auto high beams.

Avenir goes a bit over the top with quilted leather across the dash and chrome exterior detailing, and its price seems too high when lesser models are so impressive. You could easily get carried away with options, including the Technology package and AWD, raising the purchase price beyond an optimal level. Those 20-inch wheels might look smart, but they damage the otherwise excellent ride, and fuel economy is as poor as you’d expect on a 17-foot car with seven seats and a V6 engine. These are small drawbacks, though, and they don’t stop us from wholeheartedly recommending the Enclave.

Check Prices for the 2023 Buick Enclave Near You