Buick Enclave

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.

Editors' Review

Buick is in a weird spot. The fancier, sportier shadow of Cadillac looms large over this brand, so in order to deliver a product unique enough to earn its own badge, Buick chose to lean in hard on softness, especially with its higher-end Avenir trims. The recently redesigned 2022 Enclave best exemplifies how Buick is positioning itself in the US, and while it's pretty darn boring, it's also pretty darn comfortable and decently well equipped.

The three-row family crossover shape isn't the most daring from the outset, and while the 2022 Enclave's exterior redesign does look fresher than before, it's still not turning too many heads. Swapping out the single-piece headlights for a dual-layer getup does really sharpen things up in the front, but if you strip the badges from the rear end, people could easily confuse it for a Mazda or any other mass-market family machine. The Avenir badges and unique grill help set it apart a bit, but really only from other Enclaves.

The interior has a few more ups than downs. The Enclave Avenir's dashboard is nicely designed, offering some interesting angles without being intrusive. The leather feels nice, but I wish the Avenir's matte wood trim was offered on more than just the door panels and center console; instead, the dash wears a swath of piano-black plastic that picks up smudges and feels a little cheap. Half the controls are parts-bin GM bits. The ugly gear lever is gone, and in its place is a nicer set of buttons that doesn't take long to get used to. The rear windows lack auto-up capability, a signature Detroit cost-cut that shouldn't really happen on a $60,000 SUV.

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The Good ~ Plush leather seats ~ Soft on-road character ~ Good room in all three rows

The Bad ~ No real standout bits ~ Ho-hum aesthetics ~ Bowl-of-molasses controls

The Bottom Line Buick can't overtake Cadillac's luxury spot, so as a result, its vehicles all kinda feel like runners-up.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 7
  • Features 8
  • Design 7.5
  • Media 8

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