Buick Enclave Essential Expert Review in Photos

All-New 2018 Buick Enclave gives an attractive new face to popular crossover

What you need to know

The Buick Enclave midsize SUV crossover was instrumental in the recent strong revival of the Buick brand. Now it has been completely revamped for 2018 with a redesign that makes it one of the best-looking midsize crossovers available. While the previous Enclave was attractive enough, the new design is that much better. With a steeply angled windshield, lower roofline and longer wheelbase, the three-row seven-passenger the 2018 Buick Enclave is both sleeker and more athletic than the previous version. The Enclave’s new, upscale Avenir version really brings on the bling with an exclusive three-dimensional mesh grille accented with chrome, 20-inch pearl nickel-finished wheels and five special exterior colors. And, happily, the redesign has not diminished its versatility and cargo-carrying abilities.

The newest Enclave has been on the market too short a time to generate statistically reliable owner information, but previous-edition Enclaves scored above-average in the most recent Initial Quality and Vehicle Dependability studies from J.D. Power.

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New for 2018

The Buick Enclave is all-new for the 2018 model year while retaining all the virtues that made the previous-generation Enclave such a hit. Most important are the interior accommodations. The Enclave offers seating for seven passengers with two front bucket seats, two second-row captains chairs and a three-person third-row bench. A new feature adds to the convenience: the right seat in the second row has a pitch-slide feature that allows access to the third row even when a forward-facing child seat is installed.

The new-generation Enclave is one of the most spacious crossovers in its class. With both rear rows folded, it offers 97.6 cubic feet of cargo volume and 58 cubic feet with the second row seats in place. Even with seven passengers aboard the Enclave has a substantial 23.6 cubic feet of luggage space. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds when properly equipped with all-wheel drive.

Driving it

The 2018 Buick Enclave is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 310 horsepower backed with a new nine-speed automatic transmission. In base trim, it is a front-drive vehicle, but all-wheel-drive is available. In fact, the Enclave offers two all-wheel-drive systems — a basic but serviceable system for its Essence trim level and a more sophisticated system featuring active twin-clutch rear differential and switchable AWD on up-level Premium and Avenir models.

Available electronic driving aids are almost too numerous to mention. Safety equipment includes lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, safety-seat alert, rear cross-traffic alert, park assist, forward-collision alert, low-speed forward automatic braking, following-distance indicator and automatic headlights. Adaptive cruise control with stop/go and front auto braking are also available on the Avenir trim.

The 2018 Buick Enclave’s driving demeanor is well-suited for the sedate kind of driving it will typically see. It is a vehicle that is great for toting half the soccer team but not so great for charging down twisty roads. The V-6 offers ample power, and the suspension contributes a smooth, comfortable ride. One noticeable aspect is the Enclave’s interior quiet, which is enhanced by active noise cancellation. Each first- and second-row passenger has her or his own seat so their accommodations are sumptuous. The third row, designed to hold three, is okay for children.

Key competitors

Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Pilot, Lexus RX L, Acura MDX

Price range

Base: $39,995
Fully Equipped: $55,800
Typically Equipped: $48,000

Best feature

Excellent exterior and interior redesign that improves both appearance and functionality.

Lacks

Hybrid or diesel-powered version.

Typical buyer (estimated)

Male/Female – 48/52 percent   Married/Single – 65/35 percent
Median age – 48   Median Household Income – $102,000

Safety

NHTSA Crash Test Ratings

Overall 5-star Frontal 4-star Side 5-star Rollover 4-star

Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Crash Imminent Braking, Dynamic Brake Support

IIHS Crash Assessment

Rated “Good” in all Crashworthiness categories (2017 model)

Fuel Economy (EPA miles per gallon city/highway/combined)

Lowest:  17 / 25 / 20         Highest: 18 / 26 / 21

Predicted Reliability

Poor | Good | BETTER | Best

Predicted Cost-to-Own (versus key competitive vehicles)

Poor | GOOD | Better | Best

Driving Today Expert Rating

Poor | Good | BETTER | Best

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