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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

2019 Buick Enclave Review

2019 Buick Enclave Review
Abhor the idea of a minivan? The 2019 Buick Enclave is a generously sized family crossover with a quiet interior and luxury appointments—and no sliding doors.

The 2019 Buick Enclave is a handsome, comfortable SUV with an appearance that belies its size. It offers interesting options and safety features, but at a steep price. We’ve rated the new Enclave 7.2 out of 10, citing good looks and high-end cabin and ride. 


After 10 years wearing the same basic shape, the Enclave was completely updated last year. Buick’s designers bestowed the Enclave with a more muscular and well-defined shape than the model before it, a risk considering the outgoing version aged relatively well.

All Enclaves are driven by Buick’s powerful 310-horsepower V-6 paired with a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard on all models and all-wheel drive is available on every trim except the base Enclave. Trim and options packages are straightforward with four available trim levels: Preferred, Essence, Premium, or Avenir.

With updated suspension technology, the Enclave delivers a firm but comfortable ride, and handles corners and rough roads with ease. Noise reduction and sound deadening are high points with the Enclave, typical of a Buick.

Inside, the Enclave is comfortable and roomy, with easy access for both front- and second-row passengers. Third-row seats are surprisingly spacious, easily handling a couple of adults. Cleverly designed second-row seats pivot forward for easy access to the third row.

The 2019 Enclave’s fuel economy is perhaps its biggest weakness, barely scraping into the 20-mpg range in front-drive models. Advanced safety features are available, but are locked out of entry-level trims.

With a starting price just over $40,000, the Enclave easily reached into the near-luxury segment, and the top-end Avenir trim can easily crest $60,000 with certain packages included. That’s Cadillac money, but at that price the Enclave includes nearly every option any GM vehicle has to offer.

Styling
From turn signals to tail lights, the 2019 Buick Enclave is an exercise in modern design that is well-proportioned and neatly executed.

Even with a silhouette much more in line with modern SUVs than the sweeping minivan-teardrop of previous generations, the 2019 Enclave retains a smooth and appealing shape. It works well, and along with an interior covered in premium materials, earns the 2019 Enclave a 8 out of 10 for style.

Up front, the large slat-style grille is surrounded by chrome trim and accent pieces. With LED headlights bookended by LED running lights, the grille and nose of the Enclave are clean and modern. Buick’s Enclave design carries the eye down a single line and brings the shape into focus better than any other SUV we’ve seen this year. Door handles, gas filling cap, and taillights are all aligned and contrast the smooth lines of the Enclave well.

The Enclave’s backside is a picture of balance, with a large chrome accent strip stretching side to side like shiny scarf draped across its shoulders. Prominent exhaust tips are capped in more chrome and add a welcome contrast to the darker portions of the lower rear bumper.

From the driver’s seat, the Enclave’s interior layout and presentation are fitting for a vehicle in this price range. Buick has covered surfaces with premium materials, and even the Preferred model’s cloth interior punches above its weight for quality and feel. The generous 8.0-inch touchscreen is surrounded by a contoured dash and control panel absent all but the essential buttons and switches. The resulting visual effect is almost European in its simplicity and utility.

Performance
The 2019 Buick Enclave offers more acceleration than most people will use, and confident handling for when they do.

The Enclave never feels slow, but doesn’t quite hurry. With a spirited V-6 and a competent 9-speed auto, the powertrain combo delivers more than enough excitement for a vehicle of this size. We rate the Enclave 7 out of 10 for its balanced mix of power and refinement. 

Every Enclave gets Buick’s 3.6-liter V6 powerplant, delivering 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. Those are healthy numbers and the power comes on low in the rev range. This gives the Enclave its sizzle of the line and sings a lovely exhaust note that no one inside can hear, thanks to Buick’s active noise cancellation and sound deadening.

The 9-speed automatic is buttery-smooth and manages to avoid the jittery shifts that plague similar gearboxes from other brands. Shifts are almost undetectable, and the Enclave comes equipped with paddle shifters for quasi-manual operation.
Out of the box, the Enclave is rated at 1,500 pounds towing capacity, but an optional tow package bumps that number to a beefier 5,000 pounds. That’s enough to pull a 21-foot sport boat or a 25-foot camper.

Base model Enclaves are available in front-wheel drive only. Mid-range models are available with a simple all-wheel drive system that uses anti-lock brakes to control wheel spin. Premium and Avenir models have a real differential that can clutch in the rear wheels and deliver power where it’s most needed.

The Enclave’s front-strut and rear five-link suspension system, along with electric power steering, join forces to create a ride that is tidy and predictable. Even without optional adaptive dampers, the tall Enclave does not waft or lean excessively, thanks to a better body structure. A chunky 4,300-pound curb weight doesn’t hurt, either. The Enclave’s large footprint is well-disguised, and the ride is much more akin to a larger crossover than a full-size SUV.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Enclave is for people that need the room of a minivan but wouldn’t be caught dead in one.

The 2019 Enclave is spacious throughout, has plenty of cargo space, and a thoughtfully appointed cabin. We score it 9 out of 10 for comfort and quality. 

The Enclave plays in the same league as the Honda Pilot, Infiniti QX60, and Mazda CX-9, but with a 120.9-inch wheelbase and an overall length at 204.3 inches, the Enclave lives up to Buick’s claims of more third-row space than the competition. Driver’s and front passenger’s seats are firm and supportive, with plenty of space for both. All models come with power seats up front, and most trims offer heating and cooling for the front row.

An oversized console splits the front row buckets, with just the right height and padding for the driver, but the door-side rest is low and far away. Buick built in a wealth of storage space into the cabin, with a deep console and door pockets. Below the 8.0-inch screen lies an optional wireless smartphone charger and storage space.

The second row is similarly appointed, with sliding buckets and plenty of head room. Access to the third row comes courtesy of an aisle between the seats, but the passenger-side bucket pivots out of the way for easier entry. This is a clever feature, and one that allows the seat to be moved even with a child safety seat installed.

Third-row passengers will be pleasantly surprised to find even enough room for two 6-foot-tall adults. The seating position here is low and the sweeping roofline will graze some people’s heads, but adult-sized third-row seats are a relative rarity in the class.

The Enclave offers up minivan-like cargo space, with up to 97.6 cubic feet when the second and third rows are folded flat. That’s more than enough for a home-improvement store run, expanded further with a 3.1-cubic foot storage well under the cargo floor.

Safety
Federal and independent testers aren't yet done with the 2019 Buick Enclave, but advanced safety features are frustratingly kept from less expensive trim levels.

The 2019 Enclave was new last year and so far hasn’t been comprehensively crash tested. We’ll hold off assigning a score until more information becomes available.

Federal testers gave the 2018 Enclave five stars overall, including four stars for front- and rollover-crash safety.

Beyond mandated safety equipment like backup cameras and plenty of airbags, Buick outfits every Enclave with standard forward-collision warning tech, parking sensors, and rear-seat reminders.

Other driver-assist and advanced safety features are optional, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, active lane control with lane departure warnings, and surround-view cameras.

Features
Buyer will need to pony up nearly $50,000 to get advanced safety tech and luxury options from the 2019 Buick Enclave.

With its base price coming in at more than $41,000, the 2019 Enclave is appropriately equipped for an SUV in this price range. With every option ticked the Enclave checks in at more than $60,000, but we like the infotainment options and interior finishes in all trim levels. With this in mind, we give the Enclave an 8 out of 10 for features. 

The Enclave is offered in four trim levels for 2019: Preferred, Essence, Premium, and Avenir. Buick throws in a long list of standard kit, with interesting features like keyless ignition, LED headlights, heated front seats, and remote start at no additional cost.

The base model starts at $40,990 including destination, but is only available standard in white. Two other color options are available for $395 more: black and silver. This is not unique to the Enclave in Buick’s lineup, but makes other trims a better option for most people. All-wheel drive is not available in base models.

Essence trim brings leather, advanced safety tech, 20-inch wheels, and several more upcharge color options to the party. All-wheel drive is also available here. At $44,690 with destination, the Essence trim is our choice for the best value, offering a solid mix of included options without a screaming price tag.

Buick’s Avenir-trimmed Enclave with added interior and exterior accessories easily tops $60,000. The payoff is an SUV that’s loaded to the gills with every option, including navigation, heated steering wheel, 20-inch wheels, dual moonroofs, wireless phone charging, a surround-view camera system, unique appearance features, and a premium suspension package.

Technology
The Enclave includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen and 4G-LTE hotspot as standard equipment and has six USB ports sprinkled across the cabin and all three rows. The IntelliLink interface is simple, clean, and one of the easier to use systems we’ve experienced. With that said, we still prefer using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are also standard.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 Enclave’s fuel numbers are competitive but lag its rivals by just enough to matter.

The 2019 Enclave achieves decent fuel economy numbers for a vehicle of its size but leaves us wanting a little more. We give it a 4 out of 10 for its 20-plus mpg combined ratings. 

In front-wheel drive, the Enclave rates 18 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. All-wheel-drive models lose 1 mpg across the board, which are decent numbers for an SUV with a footprint the size of the Enclave’s. The Buick also competes well in-class, nearly reaching the benchmark Honda Pilot and Acura MDX at 22 mpg combined.

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