The previous Buick Enclave was in production for a full 10 years and while it was a smooth and capable SUV, the fully redesigned 2018 model was long overdue. Aside from the obvious visual differences, the new model ushers in a raft of new technological and safety devices.
The Enclave has always been a luxurious vehicle and this new model adds a modern touch to the cabin as well as some welcome features such as three-zone climate control and LED ambient lighting accents.
The Enclave looks and feels like a premium product even in base trim and most surfaces are covered in high-quality materials, it is configured solely as a 7-seater, the first two rows seat four and offer a high degree of comfort for adults of all sizes.
The third row is tasked with seating the remaining three occupants. If those three occupants happen to be adults then they will not enjoy the same sort of comfort as the passengers up front but two shorter adults will have no problems even on longer trips. This is partly to the enlarged interior dimensions and even the cargo space remains generous with all the seats up.
The old car was more of a relaxed cruiser than a sharp driving tool and the new model retains that effortless cruising ability while offering a bit more dynamic ability.
Base models are front-wheel-drive while higher trim levels get all-wheel-drive. All versions offer good cornering abilities although the AWD models will be the preferred choice for slippery surfaces.
The ride is smooth and unflustered on most road surfaces and top Avenir trim get adjustable dampers that can help improve handling levels. Active noise cancelling aids in keeping the cabin quiet at highway speeds.
The new Enclave makes 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque from its 3.6-liter V6, mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission, performance levels are a step up from the previous model. The 0-60mph time is in the low 7-second range and the Enclave feels eager and responds enthusiastically to throttle inputs.
Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive optional on higher trim levels, fuel economy ratings are almost identical with a combined 21mpg on FWD models, dropping one mpg for AWD versions.
The base 1SV trim comes relatively well equipped and you get some notable standard features such as an 8-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility, keyless entry and start function, rear parking sensors, LED headlamps, heated power adjustable front seats and 18-inch wheels. This trim is FWD only.
Essence trim adds leather seats and a driver confidence package which includes lane change alert with side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert. AWD is optional and a Trailering package can be specified as well.
Premium trim further improves safety levels with front parking sensors and luxury levels are elevated with ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, power-folding third row seats and a premium Bose audio system. A Buick Experience Package adds dual sunroofs, 20-inch rims and includes the aforementioned trailering package.
The Avenir trim level includes all of the above and adds an upgraded infotainment system with navigation, dual sunroof, surround vision with full display inside rearview mirror, unique styling elements and 20-inch alloy wheels. You also get a chestnut/ebony interior color scheme with contrasting seat stitching and piping.
The Avenir Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking, active grille shutters and a premium suspension package.
The 2018 Buick Enclave is a much improved mid-sized three row SUV and offers a thoroughly modern design with luxury levels that approach far pricier European rivals.
A range of trim levels offer shoppers a variety of equipment and luxury options although opting for the top trim pushes pricing levels uncomfortably high. Stick to the mid-range Essence or Premium trim, choose FWD unless you really need the extra traction and the Enclave is a highly competitive luxury SUV.