2018 Buick Enclave: Smart redesign

If you have been enamored with the Buick Enclave for years, then changes were most likely unnecessary. Why mess with a good thing, right?

But the engineers at GM finally did some “messing” with the original product. The Enclave that was introduced a decade ago finally received a makeover. Even hardcore fans will likely applaud the redesigned 2018 Buick Enclave.

The first-ever complete redesign of the three row, seven-passenger, midsize crossover sport utility vehicle definitely resulted in some improvements. The latest version of the Enclave offers more horsepower, delivers better gas mileage, has more overall legroom, added a little more towing capacity, spruced up the interior, and has improved road manners.

The 2018 Buick Enclave’s lone engine is a 3.6-liter, V6 that generates 310 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission

The Enclave rides on a new platform and now has a 120.9-inch wheelbase and measures 204.3 inches in length. Buick says one of the end results is better third-row space than almost any of its rivals. The competition includes the Mazda CX-9 and two luxury brands – Acura MDX, and Infiniti QX60.

Buick doesn’t mind comparisons to its luxury rivals. It bills the Enclave as a luxury experience, minus the luxury price tag. Still, the Enclave isn’t cheap. It starts at roughly $41,000 and the price can hike to more than $51,000 when it’s loaded with extras.

A recent GM company edict has been to strengthen the look of its vehicles. Most folks will like what GM has done to the Enclave exterior. The roofline is sleeker and gives off the impression that the Enclave is taller and less bulky and boxy. The waterfall grille has been replaced by one with wings that extends from either side of the Buick logo.

The Enclave’s lone engine is a 3.6-liter, V6 that generates 310 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. We offer no overwhelming praise for the performance, but for a midsize SUV hauler it will not disappoint. The Enclave can go 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds. It gets approximately 17-26 mpg and the towing package tops out at around 5,000 pounds.

Overall, the Enclave handles well and gives the driver a solid feeling for the road. It rides smooth, has a good turning radius, and outperforms the previous model.

One of the major improvements in the 2018 Buick Enclave is third row seating. It’s larger and the result is more room to accommodate older children and normal-size adults. Also improved is the access to the third row, thanks to the second row being able to tilt and slide out of the way of incoming passengers.

The front row bucket seats provide good head and leg room. In between is a huge center console, which serves as a great storage area for miscellaneous items. There is no second row bench seat any longer. It has been replaced with two comfy captain’s chairs. The cargo area is 23 cubic feet, and when both rows are folded down the space expands to 115 cubic feet.

2018 Buick Enclave

  • Performance: 3.6 -liter, V6, 310 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate:17-26 mpg
  • Price estimate: $40,100 to $51,400
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance: 6 years/70,000; corrosion: 6 years/unlimited

The new interior is an attractive design that includes wood and chrome accents. The 8-inch screen is the center piece of the dashboard. We like that the controls are logically placed and don’t require a trip to the owner’s manual for an explanation. The standard package comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The plan to improve the Buick Enclave is a success. The midsize SUV is improved in most areas and should serve as a sales bolster.

Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel. His “Weidel on Wheels” auto reviews are featured periodically on this website at www.tahoeskiworld.com.

 

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