The redesigned Enclave is a strong entry for General Motors in the luxury SUV segment. It has the core features that shoppers look for in a luxury SUV, but the Enclave is hurt by its low mpg and the added cost to get key advanced safety systems that CR believes should come standard on all vehicles.
This Buick has a hushed cabin with enough room for up to seven passengers to stretch out. It also has a comfortable and relaxing ride, with particularly responsive handling for a large SUV.
The 310-hp V6 engine is smooth and punchy, and it's paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that has nearly imperceptible shifts. But even among three-row SUVs, the Buick's 18 mpg overall fuel economy is unimpressive. The awkward and confusing shifter is a nuisance, particularly when trying to park.
The cabin has a few upscale touches such as nicely stitched leather scattered about, but we were dismayed to find a few overt cost-cutting measures such as the manually-operated sunroof shade and the lack of auto-up windows all around. And given its price, we were put off at finding some ill-fitting trim pieces and front seats with only two-way lumbar adjustment. A Honda CR-V--which costs less than half the Enclave's $55,000 price--features four-way lumbar adjustments.
With captain chairs in the second row, passengers have generous room to stretch. Even the third row is livable for adults, an unusual feat.
It's quite easy to master most of the Enclave's controls, with a straightforward infotainment system and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. You also get handy shortcuts through the steering wheel controls and lots of information in the gauge cluster. However, the 8-inch touch screen sits too far away from the driver, and some switches (like the hazard lights) require a long reach as well.
Buyers have to opt for the top Premium or Avenir trim to get important safety features such as forward-collision warning and low-speed automatic emergency braking. High-speed automatic emergency braking is available.
The Enclave is a pleasant, upscale SUV that is satisfying to drive, and it can be a viable alternative to a larger, more expensive model such as a Cadillac Escalade. Then again, there's no compelling argument to choose it over the less expensive--and already accomplished--Chevrolet Traverse.