There was a time when the Buick Estate Wagon was a go-to car for well-heeled families looking for a big, comfortable cruiser capable of carrying the whole crew and all their stuff. Those wagons are long gone, but the needs they met still exist. Today, we like our big family cars in crossover form, and Buick’s Enclave stands ready to serve. Conservatively handsome, not unlike the clothes worn by its owners, the Enclave’s styling is now five years old but doesn’t look dated. Although the Enclave is based on the same platform as the GMC Acadia and the Chevrolet Traverse, the Buick is distinctive inside and out. As in its corporate counterparts, the lone engine offering is GM’s 3.6-liter V-6, which comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. Its 288 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque are stout enough to move the hefty (4780-pound) Enclave without laboring and can tow up to 4500 pounds. Fuel economy is not bad at 17/24 mpg (city/highway) with front-wheel drive; opting for all-wheel drive lowers it to 16/22 mpg. Unlike some three-row crossovers, the Enclave’s third-row seats can accommodate the occasional adult or lanky teen. Luggage space behind them, however, is fairly limited. As you might expect from a Buick, the Enclave rides comfortably and quietly. The interior is nicely finished, and plenty of luxury options are available. One we’d particularly recommend is the backup camera, as visibility out the back is not great in most larger crossovers. The Enclave is not at all retro, but its character and capabilities are classic Buick.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: Base, Convenience, Leather, Premium
Body style: SUV/crossover, 7- or 8-passenger
Engine: 3.6L V-6, 288 hp, 270 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 129.8 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 4500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 23.2/67.5/115.3 cu ft
Not much has changed on the Enclave since its debut as a 2008 model, but not much change has been needed as the Enclave continues to sell well. For 2012, trim levels (CX, CXL) have disappeared, replaced by groups: base, convenience, leather, and premium. A hill-holder feature has been added, and there are new colors.
Standard safety equipment includes front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and stability and traction control. OnStar includes crash response and emergency assistance, which are part of the safe and sound package. A subscription to OnStar is included for six months.
All: 16-17 mpg city/22-24 mpg highway
- Comfortable ride
- Limited cargo behind 3rd row
- Rearward visibility
- Third-row access
A quiet, comfortable three-row crossover.
- Acura MDX
- Ford Explorer
- Ford Flex
- Honda Pilot