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2017 Buick Enclave Expert Reviews

Expert Reviews

2017 Buick Enclave

New Car Test Drive
© 2017

Buick Enclave is large premium crossover SUV. Cousin to the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, Buick’s three-row crossover debuted as a 2008 model. A new Sport Touring option has been introduced to the 2017 Buick Enclave lineup, with a Satin Black ice-tone grille and 20-inch chromed wheels. Buick Enclave also continues to offer the Tuscan package that debuted for 2016.

A good-looking SUV for family use, the Enclave has aged well, as we expected when it was introduced. Classy on the outside, it’s roomy and comfortable inside, especially when fitted with captain’s chairs in the second row. Materials quality excels within the cabin.

Despite its ample size, the Buick Enclave gets respectable fuel-economy estimates, much better than the truck-based Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, and Chevrolet Suburban.

Buick’s 3.6-liter V6 develops 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque of calm performance, teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available on all except the base model.

Passengers and cargo get plenty of room within an Enclave, which is among the largest SUVs built by General Motors divisions, and among the most spacious. If fitted with leather seating, the Enclave rivals the feel and finish of several luxury competitors.

Seven-passenger seating is standard, but an eight-passenger configuration with a second-row bench is available. Additional options include a rear-seat entertainment system. Offered for both Leather and Premium trim levels, the new Sport Touring package comes in a choice of three special-edition body colors: White Frost Tricoat, Crimson Red Metallic and Ebony Twilight Metallic.

Safety scores are impressive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the Enclave a 5-star overall rating. The score included five stars in front- and side-impact testing and four stars in the calculated rollover risk. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has granted Buick’s larger SUV Good ratings in each of its tests, except for the difficult small-overlap frontal crash test, which has not been undertaken.

Available safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning. However, Enclave lacks the automatic emergency braking that has become almost standard in this category over the past few years.

Side-curtain airbags protect all three rows, while a center-front airbag is mounted on the inboard side of the driver’s seat. A rearview camera is standard.

The 2017 Enclave will be the last of the current generation.

Model Lineup

Three trim levels are offered: Buick Enclave Convenience ($39,990) includes second-row captain’s chairs with a 60/40-split folding third row; automatic xenon headlights; an eight-way power driver’s seat; power liftgate; rear parking assistance; remote start with keyless ignition; rearview camera, 19-inch wheels. Also standard are IntelliLink with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and voice recognition; and an AM/FM/satellite radio with MP3 and three USB ports for charging/playback.

Enclave Leather ($44,690) features leather seating, heated eight-way power front seats, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a heated, wood-trimmed steering wheel. Enclave Premium ($48,550) adds forward-collision alert with lane-departure warnings, a premium Bose stereo with 10 speakers, heated/ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering column, and 19-inch chromed wheels. The new Sport Touring package can be added to either the Leather or Premium trim level. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)

Walk Around

Even though the Enclave is now in its ninth season, it’s a fine-looking vehicle. Sweeping body lines, which come across as both smart and soothing, are particularly enticing when compared with the similar but relatively shapeless Chevrolet Traverse. Starting with a chromed waterfall-style grille and tasteful shoulder lines outside, the Enclave opens to an adeptly appointed interior with a sensibly configured seating arrangement.

The new Sport Touring option adds a little more color and brightness to what is already a tempting premium crossover SUV, with space for up to eight occupants.


Like the exterior, the richly appointed Buick Enclave cabin has aged nicely. Somewhat ambiguously Art Deco in visual nature, but unabashedly upscale, the dashboard is topped by an analog clock and trimmed with attractive wood. Classy yet conservative in tone, the cabin is awash with soft-touch materials and neat upholstery stitching.

Depending on configuration, either seven or eight passengers can ride in comparative comfort. Front seats are on the soft side, intended to suit various body types. In upper trim levels, front seats are eight-way power-adjustable, heated and ventilated, with memory functions.

Second-row occupants sit a bit higher, for fine views to the front. Leg support is good, and headroom plentiful. Captain’s chairs are standard, but a bench can be specified for eight-passenger capacity.

Third-row space is adequate for two adults, but they probably won’t be pleased to travel far. Getting into the third row, and out again, isn’t a totally dignified endeavor. With all three rows of seats in position, cargo volume totals 23 cubic feet, expanding to 115 cubic feet with second and third rows folded down.

Driving Impressions

The Buick Enclave is more about comfort than swiftness. Peak engine power occurs relatively high in the rev range, while peak torque emerges at a much lower engine speed. That means the Enclave isn’t as emphatic when attempting to pass on the highway, as it is at pulling away promptly from a stoplight.

Handling is relatively accomplished for an SUV of this size and heft, and the Enclave doesn’t lean excessively in curves. More important, the ride is smooth.

Hit the brakes hard, and you get a quick reminder of this vehicle’s mass, in the form of considerable nosedive. On narrow roads, too, the Enclave inevitably feels and handles like a large vehicle.

Choose optional 20-inch wheels, and the ride tends to turn a bit more harsh. They are not our preference. Expect a blissfully quiet experience in any case, brought about by Buick’s Quiet Tuning approach. An Enclave can be equipped to tow up to 4,500 pounds.

Fuel economy trails some competitors, but estimates are respectable for a three-row model that weighs almost 5,000 pounds. With front-wheel drive, the Enclave is EPA-rated at 15/22 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined, which is close to other large crossovers. All-wheel drive drops the EPA Combined estimate to 17 mpg, with the City/Highway figures unchanged.

The Buick Enclave is big and comfortable inside, smooth and quiet underway, perfect for hauling a family. It’s our favorite among GM’s three related large crossover SUVs, largely because of its quality materials and quiet ride. Many costly options are offered, to add to the ample standard-equipment list. If equipped like similar luxury SUVs, an Enclave can easily sail past the $50,000 mark. It’s a bit long in the tooth, however, and a new model is on the horizon, so watch for deals.

Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.

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