- Surprisingly good handling
- Well-matched engine and transmission
- Clever, capable AWD system
- Too much in common with a Chevy Traverse
- Desirable features stuck in pricey higher trims
- Limited standard active safety tech
Buick Enclave Expert Review
- Sport Touring package
- Next-gen 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment
- Available massaging front seats
The Enclave is Buick's take on the three-row, General Motors FWD-based crossover platform, which it shares with the Chevrolet Traverse, Cadillac XT6, and GMC Acadia. It's also the first model to receive Buick's Avenir treatment—"the highest expression of Buick luxury," according to the automaker.
How many ways can General Motors slice one piece of pie? That's the question at hand with the Buick Enclave, and in our time with this three-row SUV, we saw it struggling to differentiate itself from the pack. The new Avenir trim succeeds in offering higher quality materials and lots of standard features, but the rest of the line needs more standard tech and variation from the norm to stand out.
The 3.6-liter V-6 that powers all Enclave models has been used under the hood of everything from Camaros to Cadillacs, and it's perfectly adequate here. This nine-speed automatic is smooth and clever in keeping the engine in its powerband. We were impressed with the Enclave's well-controlled body motions, comfortable ride, and off-road performance, especially with the optional twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system.
Its interior is a pleasant place to spend time, though we didn't notice a significant improvement over the loaded Chevy Traverse. Massage seats, new for 2020, should help a bit. We did appreciate how easy it was to access the admittedly tight third row thanks to SmartSlide second row seating.
The Enclave isn't a bad car, but it doesn't do much to keep from blending in with the pack. Perhaps if its better tech features weren't buried in expensive option packages and trim levels, it could stand out as an affordable, well-equipped entry to the luxury market.
All Enclave models are powered by GM's 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V-6 paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available on all trims. The V-6 generates 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque that, in our First Test, helped an all-wheel-drive Enclave hit 60 mph in 7.0 seconds. For 2020, the Enclave is EPA-rated at 17-18/25-26 mpg city/highway.
The Enclave earns a five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA. Although it hasn't been fully evaluated by the IIHS, it received the highest possible score of Good in the Moderate overlap front and side crashworthiness tests.
Blind spot monitoring and rear park assist are standard on base models, but you'll have to spend a little more cash for more active safety tech. Features like auto emergency braking, front and rear park assist, following distance indicator, and lane-keep assist are standard on higher trims, but even on the top-spec Enclave Avenir you have to pay extra for adaptive cruise control.
All Enclave models seat seven, and unlike some of its competition, they implement second row captain's chairs and cram three seats into the third row. There are 41.2 inches of legroom for the driver and front passenger, 38.9 inches in those second-row captain's chairs, and only 33.5 inches of legroom for the folks relegated to the back.
From a cargo perspective, the Enclave is pretty huge. It boasts 23.6 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the third row, plus another 3.1 cubic feet in an underfloor storage bin. Capacity expands to 58.0 cubic feet with the third row folded down and 97.6 cubic feet behind the first row.
All Enclave models come equipped with a newly revised version of the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Built-in navigation is an optional extra, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard if you're OK with using Apple or Google's navigation apps. A six-speaker audio system is standard, though Premium and Avenir models boast a Bose 10-speaker setup. All models utilize in-cabin microphones and the audio system for active noise cancellation.
2020 Buick Enclave Preferred
Base Enclave models come equipped with GM's ubiquitous 3.6-liter engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, and integrated roof rails. Inside, you get an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 4.2-inch instrument cluster information screen, cloth seating, heated front seats, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, rear park assist, remote start, hands-free power liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote start, and active noise cancellation.
2020 Buick Enclave Essence
It's a small step up to the Enclave Essence, which offers standard blind spot monitoring with lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, satellite radio, and perforated leather-trimmed seats. That being said, it's also available with desirable options, such as premium audio, a trailering package, and a 360-degree camera system, which aren't offered on the base model.
The Essence is also the only model available with the new Sport Touring Edition package, which offers 20-inch aluminum wheels with matte graphite painted inserts and a unique front grille with body-color grille surrounds.
2020 Buick Enclave Premium
Premium models seem like the sweet spot of the range, offering safety features such as auto emergency braking, auto high beams, lane-keep assist, front and rear park assist, and a safety alert seat. Also included are standard luxury features such as power lumbar adjustment, heated and ventilated massaging front seats, heated second-row captain's chairs, power-folding third row, Bose 10-speaker audio, and a power-tilt and telescope steering column.
2020 Buick Enclave Avenir
The Enclave Avenir represents the pinnacle of Buick three-row luxury, boasting 20-inch wheels, unique interior and exterior colors, Avenir interior and exterior branding, leather-wrapped wood-trimmed steering wheel, navigation, power moonroof with rear skylight, 8.0-inch instrument cluster information screen, 360-degree camera system, and a wireless charging pad.