2019 Buick Enclave – Review & Road Test

2019 Buick Enclave – Review & Road Test


Some of us are made to live that premium
life. No, no, not luxury life. I am NOT made of
money, but if you have premium tastes and you
need a seven passenger SUV the Buick Enclave might fit the bill. Sure the
Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, and Mazda CX-9 might entice you with their premium
delights, but the second-generation Enclave has a distinct aura defined by
soft materials and flowing style. Inside and out accent lines evoke the organic
strokes of a designer’s brush. Note the varying thickness of this chrome trim
piece. It’s thicker here like the artist was pressing more firmly and then eased
off in this direction. And try to ignore the fact that this bit doesn’t quite align. And as long as I’ve broken the seal unleashing my minor annoyances, I like
center consoles with two-tier storage, but in this case the upper tier is just
a removable bin. You have to set it somewhere if you want to access the
lower bin. Isn’t this usually attached to the lid or something? I’ll also mention that there’s no auto
up window for the driver, and this sunroof cover sounds awfully chintzy.
Thankfully the rear cover is, oh wait, it’s the exact same thing. Hmm, we are on
thin ice here. This visor better extend. Okay, we’re cool. Lastly, one of my new pet
peeves is when you have to push a button to unlock the car because they didn’t
put sensors on the inside of the door handle, and with that we’ve achieved peak
privilege. It’s all downhill from here. This is a good moment to crank up the
gratitude and focus on the positive. Third row is totally inhabitable with
two aboard. Might be tight with three but hey what a fantastic opportunity to
better know your seat mate. Move the sliding and reclining second row to an
intermediate position, and there’s ample room for me to sit behind myself twice
over. In all trims each row includes two USB ports and numerous cupholders. We
also dig the second rows flat floor though that flatness would be more
beneficial if the Enclave offered a second row bench instead of captains
chairs. Accessing the cargo area is done through a standard height adjustable
power tailgate, a helpful feature if you have a low garage. Generous cargo space
behind the third row is supplemented by a deep underfloor hold. Higher trims let
you motor down the third row, though these seats can get stuck if the second
row is positioned too far back. Elsewhere there’s decent door storage, a deep glove
box, and a USB adjacent phone nook. From a usability perspective the fonts look a
little small on the steering wheel and gauge cluster, but the dash is
wonderfully uncluttered with excellent division between the audio and climate
controls and all essential buttons within easy reach. Okay turning off the
parking sensors requires a slight stretch, but it is slight. Carmakers sometimes eliminate physical
buttons and hide those functions deep within the infotainment system but not
here. Frequently used functions are conveniently tabbed across the top of
the menus. The infotainment interface also offers easy access to standard
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity. An optional 360-degree
camera system and a shop function that lets you buy stuff using your car. I’m
not sure how that is easier than reaching for my, oh, peak privilege. Adding
to the drivers situational awareness is an easy-to-use multifunction gauge
cluster that puts supplemental navigation infotainment and vehicle
information near the driver’s view. Speaking of, the Enclave’s collision
warning system flashes the light on the windshield and vibrates the driver seat
when danger lurks ahead or behind. Either I’ve gotten used to the seat vibes or GM
has tweaked the intensity. I find it useful now instead of freaky, less freaky
Freaky-ness aside, the Enclave drives and rides in pleasing fashion. Buick’s quiet
tuning philosophy yields impressively silent results and at stops so does the
fuel saving automatic engine start/stop system. Note, starting in 2019 Buick will
allow drivers to deactivate the system and yet restarts are unobtrusive enough
I might just let the system do its thing. I know it’s a crazy world we’re living
in. From the drivers post the dash seems
high, making this the rare vehicle where I prefer a raised seating position.
Looking rearward the mirror seems small, but it’s actually perfectly sized for
the back glass. Notice how the window cuts the rear
sight line below head level, so if a trio of Ford GTs is tailgating you you’ll
never know it. Around corners the steering is slow, light and smooth. The
Enclave is a driver’s car in as much as it requires a driver. That’s me! For propulsion all Buick Enclave’s feature
a 3.6-liter V6 matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Add the towing
package and the Enclave can drag up to 5,000 pounds. Front wheel drive comes
standard, but all wheel drive traction is available for $2,000 with a minimal
impact of fuel economy. When cruising, these shifts are super smooth though the
nine-speed doesn’t hesitate to kick down a gear or two when I feel the need, the
need for acceleration. Does everybody know what torque steer is? It’s that
thing where in high horsepower front-wheel drive cars when you floor it
the steering wants to go right or left. What’s amazing is that the Enclave in
front wheel drive version doesn’t do that. Consider that license to flooring
everywhere you go. Choose a front-wheel drive
$41,000 base trim, and it’s generous equipment list includes tri-zone
automatic climate control, seven airbags and keyless access with push-button start. Nab a top tier all-wheel drive Avenir trim with heated and ventilated
leather seats, wireless phone charging and lane keep assist, and the MSRP lands
around $58,000. As a premium product natural Enclave
competitors include the Volvo XC90 and Acura MDX, though each has a higher starting price. Consideration set could also include
upscale iterations of the Ford Explorer, VW Atlas, and Toyota Highlander. Or if you want to keep it in the GM family you might investigate the
Enclave’s cheaper platform mate the Chevrolet Traverse. However you slice it, the Buick Enclave
is a roomy quiet smooth riding SUV. If you’re ready to live that premium life,
and I think you are, you could do a lot worse.

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