Buick’s largest premium crossover gets new upgrades for 2018. The second-generation Enclave raises the bar in the styling and technology departments, and is slightly longer than last year with additional legroom for rear passengers. We’ll see why it’s an appealing choice for a luxury three-row crossover SUV.
This week, we’ve been driving the 2018 Buick Enclave Premium AWD.
The Buick Enclave gets a full redesign for 2018. In addition to a sizable list of improvements, Buick has introduced a new, top-of-the-line Avenir version. The Enclave’s wheelbase has grown, the roofline is lower, and the windshield is more angled. Vehicle weight has dropped and the use of LED lighting has increased.
Features & Options
The 2018 Buick Enclave Premium AWD ($50,315) comes standard with LED headlights, a power hands-free tailgate, keyless ignition, pushbutton start, heated power front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, and 18-inch wheels. The eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Premium trims get perforated leather seat upholstery, lane-change alert, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Premium trims also come standard with a 10-speaker Bose audio system, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, front/rear parking sensors, power third-row seats, and forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking.
Options on this Premium tester included the dual front and rear moonroof ($1,400), 20-inch aluminum wheels ($1,400), rear camera mirror ($825), White Frost Tricoat paint ($995), Trailering Equipment ($650), and an HD Cooling System ($495). Total MSRP including destination: $57,055.
Elegant yet subtle is how we would describe the interior, featuring a rich cockpit that blends technology with tastefulness. The cabin’s fit and finish excels and offers impressive comfort. We like especially like the upgraded perforated leather, the heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats. The electronic instruments and display screens appear in an expressive sweep across the dashboard, giving it a contemporary feel. We think Buick’s IntelliLink is among the most user-friendly infotainment interfaces, unlike many other luxury crossovers on the market.
We found the first and second rows had plenty of room for adults with good head clearance and leg space. Power front seats are supportive and comparatively firm. Out back, second-row bucket seats slide fore/aft to expand either leg or cargo space. The optional dual-pane sunroof even offered sizable headroom for taller passengers.
Out back, the Enclave’s second-row captain’s chairs pivot for easy access to the third row, which provide ample space for even six-foot adults to sit comfortably. The second row is a place you won’t mind spending lots of travel time. Cargo space is also a strong point for Enclave, with 23.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row, growing to 58 cubes with the seat folded away. Cargo capacity reaches up to 97.6 cubic feet when the second-row seat backs are folded down.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The Buick Enclave is powered by GM’s latest 3.6-liter V6 engine, producing 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque. Engine output has grown by 22 horsepower compared to the 2017 model, though torque has declined slightly. It’s mated to a quick-shifting 9-speed automatic. Our Enclave Premium tester came with optional all-wheel drive.
Fuel economy has significantly improved, yet falls behind some competitors. All-wheel drive models get an EPA-estimated 17/25 city/highway and 20 combined.
The moment we got up to highway speed in the Enclave Premium, we noticed the cabin was especially quiet and the ride was smooth despite uneven pavement. The 3.6-liter V6 is strong, accelerates quicker, and has improved driving dynamics over its predecessor.
We especially liked the shift quality of the 9-speed automatic transmission during the mountain driving we did this week. Shifts were smooth and the engine never had to hunt for the right gear. We used the steering wheel paddle shifters along with a semi-manual mode for maximum control and a more sporty driving experience. Overall, the new Enclave has road manners that will satisfy even the pickiest luxury car buyers. The suspension yields a suitable, yet taut and firm ride that feels controlled. Through even the tight mountain corners, there is very little body lean.
The 2018 Buick Enclave is a sassy but luxurious three-row SUV. Its strong engine and satisfying ride further enhance its appeal. The Premium trim offers plenty of luxury and comes with a host of features to keep families feeling comfortable and safe on the road.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy