The 2012 Buick Enclave shares its underlying architecture with the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. It comes powered by a 3.6L V6, which makes 288 horsepower and has the responsiveness of a small V8, thanks to variable valve timing. The Enclave's good for an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway on regular gas. The only available transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Buyers have a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with either the base, Convenience, Leather and Premium trim.
Although carrying passengers is the Enclave's forte, it can tow up to 4,500 pounds when properly equipped, and the transmission has automatic grade braking to maintain control. The Enclave's intelligent all-wheel drive system is especially well-suited for driving in deep snow and on steep, icy driveways, as it works with the stability control system to send more power smoothly to the rear wheels when needed.
The Enclave is one of the new generation of more car-like crossover SUVs, but it combines some of the best attributes of cars and trucks, with a 4-wheel independent suspension combining MacPherson struts in front, an H-arm setup in back along with fluid-filled bushings to help isolate road harshness.
With a standard third-row seat and room for up to eight, the interior makes the most of the Enclave's available space, and passengers will likely be comfortable no matter where they sit. Second-row captain's chairs are standard across the trims, but a second-row split-folding bench is available and fits three across. Even the rearmost row, with a Smart Slide feature allowing easier entry/exit, has ample space for adults.
The Enclave is among the best-performing vehicles in its class in crash tests from the federal government and the insurance-funded IIHS, and comes with StabiliTrak stability control with rollover mitigation technology, plus anti-lock brakes and a total of six airbags standard.
The entry-level base trim comes with many typical luxury-brand features, such as HID xenon projector headlamps, fog lamps, heated mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control and steering wheel audio controls, with a 6-speaker sound system and XM Satellite Radio compatibility. Convenience and Leather models upgrade to heated power seats, memory seat settings and showier 19-inch machined aluminum wheels, while Premium adds an auxiliary power outlet, rear audio controls, a premium sound system, cooled front seats and power folding mirrors.
Even considering the extensive standard equipment, there's a very long list of options to choose from. They include a sunroof, 20-inch chromed wheels, trailer-towing package, a cargo net and chrome package. There are also several entertainment packages that bring 10-speaker Bose sound as well as a navigation system, backup camera and rear DVD entertainment system. Each of those packages includes an AC household-type outlet.
Buick's Enclave is a safe, nonthreatening choice in its class of midsize, seven-seat SUVs. The updated model doesn't disappoint and even improves over last year with better in-car tech. Meanwhile, the driver-assistance suite continues to check all of the right boxes -- even with a few caveats -- and its performance and efficiency are both pretty good.
The Enclave's exterior design is handsome, especially with the new Sport Touring Edition appearance package for this Essence trim tester that adds a dark mesh grille and large chrome-and-graphite 20-inch wheels. Still, the overall look is samey, and the Enclave doesn't stand out among its peers. Turns out, that's a recurring theme with the 2020 Enclave, too. The SUV is fairly ordinary and middle-of-the-road by most measures. It's not bad, but also not great. And in this highly competitive class, "pretty good" might not be good enough.
The previous-generation Intellilink multimedia suite was already decent, but the new GM Infotainment 3 system is a substantial step up in terms of architecture, features and ease of use.
The Good ~ Quiet and spacious cabin ~ Infotainment 3 tech is standard and very good
The Bad ~ Fuel economy is just OK ~ Driver-assistance tech is locked behind expensive packages and trims ~ Not a great value compared to other three-row SUVs
The Bottom Line Spacious and comfortable, the 2020 Buick Enclave isn't a bad choice in its crowded class of seven-passenger SUVs. It's just not the best choice.
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