Road Test: 2018 Buick Enclave

Buick’s Enclave is all new for 2018, with more functionality, technology, and luxury. New this year is a top-tier Avenir trim that takes the Enclave to a higher level of luxury. We sampled the Enclave Premium, and walked away thoroughly impressed.

The Enclave looks sleeker and more beautiful than before. Evonik Acylite lighting in the bi-functional LED projector headlamps is unique and different from anything else in the crossover segment. IntelliBeam uses the front-facing camera to watch what’s ahead and switches between low and high beams automatically. LED illumination inside and out really makes the Enclave feel and look advanced.

The 2018 Enclave wheelbase is longer than the previous generation in order to increase cabin room, yet its turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than before. Space is abundant in every row and includes many storage cubbies.

The aforementioned tow capacity is now up to 5,000 pounds, which is pretty amazing when you consider how much the Enclave holds on its own.

Under the hood, the 3.6L V-6 engine is now mated to a 9-speed automatic that produces 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque with stop/start technology.

We love this engine and how it feels in the Enclave. Power delivery is responsive and smooth, and the Enclave handles securely and confidently.

Like before, AWD is available, and now it features an active twin-clutch rear differential and switch to help improve control and efficiency.

Standard safety equipment includes a backup camera, front and rear park assist and seven air bags, including a front center side airbag between the front seats. Our tester came with forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and the ingenious safety alert seat. The lane keep assist works very smoothly.

Inside, Buick engineers leveraged the first-generation Enclave as a benchmark for quietness. The 2018 Enclave cabin is engineered to further minimize unwanted interior noise and it does a superb job. QuietTuning and active noise cancellation enhancements help to reduce, block and absorb noise, keeping it from entering the cabin.

Air quality has also been improved by way of an air ionizer that eliminates odors and provides higher air quality. Buick says it requires no maintenance.

Packaging engineers carved out 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. Especially handy is a 10″-deep underfloor storage bin with 3.1 cubic feet of space which we used to hold in groceries and garden items.

The power-folding third row makes reconfiguring space more convenient, while the second-row SmartSlide Seats provide easy access to the third row. On the passenger side, the SmartSlide seat provides a pitch slide function to allow access even with an empty child seat installed.

The hands-free power-programmable liftgate with a Buick tri-shield logo illuminating the ground below the hidden sensor makes loading and unloading items easier. Inside, we counted 6 USB ports–2 front, 2 in the second row, and one on each side of the third row.

All those USB devices means the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is going to get a lot of use.

The floating 8″ infotainment touchscreen with Teen Driver, Rear Seat Reminder, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto put the Enclave in the front row of the tech game. Rear Seat Reminder knows when one of the rear doors is opened prior to starting the Enclave and reminds the driver to check the back seat when the engine is turned off. We found it extremely helpful but it can always be disabled in the vehicle settings.

Lastly, the 10-speaker Bose sound system is new and makes the interior feel like a concert hall.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 9
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 9
Noise 10
Headlights 9
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 10
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 10
Crash-Avoidance 7
Total Score  95


Make: Buick
Model: Enclave
Trim Level: Premium AWD
Engine: 3.6L V6
Transmission: 9-Speed Auto
Options: Dual Moonroof, 20″ Wheels, Rear Camera Mirror, Trailering, Nav, Paint

Base Price: $50,400
As-Tested Price: $56,560

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