The Enclave debuted a few years ago as a premium-level three-row crossover built on the Chevrolet Traverse platform. Sharing a lot with its Chevy cousin, the Enclave adds the Buick touches of luxury and technology, as well as a more upscale exterior look. For the 2018 model year, first unveiled in New York, the Enclave is completely redesigned to be lighter in weight, with a more powerful drivetrain, and to be more spacious inside.
The 2018 Buick Enclave is offered in four trim levels with seating for seven and the same powertrain regardless of choice. We drove the Premium trim model, which sits above the standard and Essence trims and below the top-level Avenir trim. Our Enclave also included all-wheel drive and a host of standard and optional safety and technology features.
The 2018 model has a slightly larger footprint than outgoing generation of the crossover, adding about 2 inches (51 mm), but loses a few hundred pounds in weight thanks to more extensive use of high-strength steels and aluminum. Underpinning this is a new-generation 3.6-liter V6 that outputs 302 horsepower (225 kW) and 260 pound-feet (353 Nm) of torque. This drivetrain includes smooth shifting from the new nine-speed automatic transmission, a responsive throttle, and solid road handling in most situations.
The Enclave isn't a sports car by any means, but it's definitely confident in its ability to hold the road and pass when needed. The Enclave is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg) when equipped. The US EPA rates the 2018 Enclave at 18 mpg (13 l/100km) in the city and 26 mpg (9 l/100km) on the highway. Our average for the week was a somewhat low 20 mpg (12 l/100km) overall.
At highway speeds, the 2018 Buick Enclave is amazingly quiet for such a big vehicle. This is a Buick trademark. Wind and road noise are at minimum, thanks to the addition of active electronic noise cancelling in the vehicle, with our only complaint being that the softer ride also results in some reduction of driver feel through pedals and steering. The quiet ride, however, allows full use of the 10-speaker Bose system that comes standard with the Premium trim level.
The base model is nicely-equipped with LED headlights, rear parking sensors, keyless entry/ignition, three-zone climate, an 8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, and six (count 'em) USB charging ports. Also included is remote starting, which is a boon come winter.
The Premium model upgrades from the base with extras like low-speed forward collision mitigation, pedestrian detection, front parking sensors, that Bose stereo we talked about, lane departure warning and intervention, blind-spot monitoring, heated front and second-row seating, and power-folding rear seating. The Avenir model adds even more to that, including the otherwise-optional 360-degree camera system and an integrated camera in the rearview mirror.
Inside the Enclave, there is seating for seven with a second-row set of captain's chairs between which access to the third row bench can be had. Those captain's chairs also tilt and slide forward for access to the third row ... even with a child safety seat installed, which is a nice touch. The rear doors open wide and nearly perpendicular, giving a lot of access for entry and egress. The rear hatch is automated and opens with a wide, square access and relatively low loading floor that remains flat to the bumper to make it easier to load bulky items. Total cargo space is about 97.6 cubic feet (2,764 liters) with the second and third rows folded.
The second row captain's chairs are almost as comfortable as the front passenger's seat, with plenty of adjustability and a good ride height. The 2018 Enclave's step-in height is a little high for some, but the nearly flat sills and added grab-holds for getting in are a nice touch. The third row is largely for kids, but can house two adults when required. The bench is a bit low for long-ride comfort, but kids and teenagers will have few issues back there. The way that USB ports are sprinkled throughout the cabin means that everyone has access to at least one. A must in today's plugged-in times.
Speaking of technology, the 2018 Enclave has the latest in Chevrolet's Buick-branded infotainment. Smartphone integration, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, are standard, as is satellite radio and basic vehicle information screens. Upgrades bring more safety equipment and some OnStar connectivity upgrades, including a Wi-Fi hotspot option.
Standard in the Enclave is the new Rear Seat Reminder prompt which beeps at the driver when exiting the vehicle if something might be in the back seat – activated when the rear door is opened upon getting in the vehicle. This seems gimmicky but saved this guy from forgetting his briefcase and, at one point, a birthday present in the parking lot.
The 2018 Buick Enclave is one of the better premium-level crossovers we've driven lately. The market is becoming stronger for three-row offerings and Buick definitely brought its A-game to the family-hauling segment with this new offering. The 2018 Enclave has a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of US$39,995 and our test model had a sticker of $57,055 with delivery.
Product Page: 2018 Buick Enclave
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