The Biggest Buick Packs A Ton of Content.
By Cam Benty
The cool kid of the GM Crossover line up, the Buick Enclave is a sexier version of the Chevy Traverse and features a large assortment of luxury elements that set it apart from its less expensive cousin. The Enclave Avenir, the most luxurious model of the line, features the “kitchen sink” of infotainment and technical elements from GM. While the luxury equipment and appointments on the Avenir are not revolutionary they do come together neatly to make a vehicle that will appeal to a large number of crossover buyers today.
Powering the Enclave line up (there are currently four levels: Preferred, Essence, Premium, Avenir – the last three also available in AWD) is the 3.6-liter V-6 making 310 horsepower which is more than adequate to get you down the road with comfort and safety. The overall ride is very smooth but the car feels quite big overall – despite the fact that the dimensions of the big Buick (204″ L x 79″ W x 70″ H) are only slightly bigger than the Ford Explorer (two inches shorter) or Audi Q7 (same length, one inch narrower and taller). With third row seating, the Buick delivers that mandatory feature that makes it a good choice for growing families or those requiring ample interior space for extended trips. In addition, the Enclave is best in class for interior cargo area capacity.
A pleasant surprise was the mileage we achieved with the Enclave Avenir. While most vehicles that deliver this kind of interior space are in the low if not sub-20 mpg range, the Enclave Avenir generated mpg figures that topped the EPA rating of 25 during out testing. In keeping with our previously noted accolades, Enclave Avenir was truly wonderful on some of the rougher southern California highways -perhaps the best we have experienced. While we would have liked a bit quicker steering response at times, the suspension seems right in line for this level of luxury crossover transportation.
As noted, the interior features a wealth of high tech components all surrounding the 8-inch center mounted screen through which good things come to all who touch. The intuitive nature of the screen controls is excellent and the usual suspects – Apple Car Play and Android Auto – make things that much simpler. The Enclave Avenir features Wi-Fi hotspot technology making connectivity wherever you sit within the car’s seven seating positions very useful and for those owners with kids, that’s an awesome feature. While navigation is only available when you check that option (we’d like to see it with the upscale Avenir package) it does work great.
If there is a downside to the interior it is the overall styling. The surfaces of the door panels and dashboard are not as luxurious as one would expect from this price point. The instrument panel layout is clean but nothing special. Visibility is still excellent and the key controls, such as mirror settings and steering wheel height are perfect.
The Enclave Avenir sports a NHTSA five-start safety rating, something buyers of these vehicles will greatly appreciate. In addition, the Enclave Avenir is covered by a 4-year/50,000 mile limited warranty and a 6-year/70,000 mile drivetrain warranty making it one of the best in its class. The Enclave Avenir is well appointed but missing a few things that we think should be standard on this model level. If you want emergency braking through pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning or automatic high beam headlights you will have to check those boxes on the order form – the Avenir does not include them. With a base price of just over $54,000 for the base Avenir, our test vehicle was equipped with these three additional pieces pushing the final sticker price to close to $60,000.
The Enclave Avenir is an outstanding machine that delivers outstanding on-road comfort and a top-notch safety rating. While it feels larger than other Crossovers in its class from behind the wheel, the ride smoothness, enough room for seven and impressive big cargo capacity will make it popular with many.