Buick has introduced their all-new seven-passenger luxury SUV, the 2018 Enclave. According to Buick, its arrival ushers in new improvements and refinements that mark the “next evolution” of their brand. The General Motors family member bills their line as modern luxury but it certinately has not been easy.
Late last year, we sat down with Molly Peck, Buick’s Marketing Director to learn about their reinvention strategy.
Those considering the Enclave may be interested to know the third row alone offers 5.6 more inches of legroom than an Acura MDX, 4.5 inches more than an Audi Q7, and nearly three inches more than an Infiniti QX60.
“Enclave was introduced as a game-changer for the Buick brand and has since become one of our most successful and important vehicles,” said Duncan Aldred, Vice President, Global Buick and GMC. “It set the tone for a more progressive Buick, helping change perception for us and serving as the standard-bearer of what our products stand for: smart, stylish luxury.”
Styling & Design
Buick went with an athletic, yet balanced formula, giving the 2018 Enclave new proportions for a sharper, more aerodynamic look. Buick’s patented “front end design language” was inspired by the Avista and Avenir concepts, further complimented by what the automaker calls a “windswept” appearance. The roofline is lower and the windshield is sleeker for a more dramatic stance.
Lighting is not a light affair by any means, but a rather serious one. The 2018 Enclave is Buick’s first application of Evonik Acrylite technology and bi-functional LED projector headlamps and LED tail lamps. From a design perspective, it makes the Enclave stand out while the IntelliBeam headlamps available on Premium and Avenir models provide better visibility at night.
Safety & Security
The 2018 Buick Enclave has a number of tools to help a driver feel safe and confident, including a rear vision camera, rear park assist, and seven air bags, including a front center side airbag. The latter deploys from the inboard side of the driver’s seat, positioning itself between the driver and front passenger. GM created this airbag specifically to protect drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes where the affected occupants are on the opposite, non-struck side of the vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System Database found far-side impact crashes, which the front center side air bag is meant to mitigate, accounted for 11 percent of the belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover accidents between 2004 and 2009, in vehicles 1999 or newer. These types of accidents also represented 29 percent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts. In other words, it’s a highly desirable and potentially life-saving safety device.
When fully equipped, there are 17 different radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors to provide drivers with a full sense of safety and security. In our opinion, the 2018 Buick Enclave really excels in this particular area.
Like it does with safety and security, the 2018 Buick Enclave does wonders in the cargo capacity department. Behind the third row, there is 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space while the second- and third-row seats fold for a nearly-flat load floor. An optional power-folding third row makes things easy, while available second-row SmartSlide Seats allow occupants better entry/exit from the third row.
Finally, an underfloor storage area provides an extra 3.1 cubic feet of cargo space.
Power & Performance
The 2018 Buick Enclave is powered by a 3.6L V6 engine with stop/start technology, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. GM estimates around 300 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. All-wheel drive is available with an active twin-clutch rear differential – it’s also a switchable AWD system which will help drivers increase control, stability, and efficiency.
What’s really impressive is the 5,000 lbs. towing capacity, more than enough to haul a nice fishing boat. A Standard MacPherson strut front and five-link rear suspension provide a smooth ride and easy handling. Buick’s engineers opted for a longer wheelbase but were still able to cut over a foot off the turning radius from the prior generation.
The 2018 Buick Enclave features QuietTuning, an active noise cancellation system to help keep the cabin quiet and comfortable. Engineers honed the exterior design accordingly, and increased the sealing and sound-deadening materials throughout the vehicle. However, just in case the quiet is too much, a 10-speaker Bose Premium stereo is available.
It’s one thing to have the little tree hanging from the rearview mirror, it’s another to have an entire ionizer in the vehicle. The 2018 Buick Enclave has such a feature that works by producing negatively charged particles that attract air-born contaminants and break down their structure, essentially cleaning the inside air. The system reduces and/or eliminates odors, bacteria, viruses, dust, debris, and pollen. This useful addition for allergy season requires no maintenance or filter replacement, and comes standard on Essence, Premium, and Avenir models.
Standard equipment on every 2018 Enclave includes keyless entry and push-button start, a hands-free power-programmable liftgate with a Buick logo illuminating the ground below, tri-zone automatic climate control, universal home remote, and six USB ports. Every Enclave is equipped with an OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, a frameless 8-inch diagonal infotainment display, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Pricing & Availability
When it arrives in dealerships this fall, the 2018 Buick Enclave will come in Enclave, Essence, Premium, and Avenir trims. The 2018 Enclave is the seventh new Buick in less than two years and is manufactured at Lasing Delta Township Assembly.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.