There is a plethora of three-row midsize crossovers on the market today. The options cover the whole range, from boring to elegant, from affordable to luxurious, from comfortable to sporty. For those looking for a safe, harmless and above all comfortable crossover, Buick has you covered with the Enclave 2021.
- Beautiful style
- Spacious and comfortable cabin
- Smooth driving
I do not like
- Frantic character
- Some optional driver assistance technology
- Avenir’s upholstery isn’t a huge step forward in luxury.
On the outside, the style of the Enclave is slightly attractive. It’s by no means a sight, but it’s not a bland manila folder either. Subtle lines of character in the hood and sides lend a bit of flavor, along with the front quarter portholes and a decent amount of chrome detailing. On my top-of-the-range Avenir test car, unique grills with mesh inserts and 20-inch nickel-finish wheels liven things up a bit more.
Inside, you’re greeted by simply laid out controls, panels built with quality materials, and an overall design that’s not that bad to look at. This is where Avenir’s extras make the most impact, with a nice combination of contrasting chestnut and black colors. The real wood steering wheel trim and embroidered logos on the headrests and floor mats complete the Avenir treatment, while the dual-panel moonroof offers a light and airy ambience.
Everything in the Enclave’s cabin feels solid, from the wrapped and stitched dash topper and door panels to the pleasantly grainy hard plastics used on the lower parts. The cabin is also comfortable, with people driving in front enjoying comfortable heated and cooled seats with massage functions, although larger hips are on my wish list. In the second row, the captain’s heated seats keep passengers happy on long journeys.
With the push of a button in the trunk, the Enclave’s third-row electric seats lift off the floor and offer enough space to carry three children or a couple of shorter adults without too many complaints. Legroom for the outboard seats is tight, but it’s far from a torture chamber and will work for short commutes.
When it comes to moving cargo, this Buick is poised to gobble up 23.6 cubic feet of cargo with the third row lined up. Folding the rearmost seats into the floor increases the space to 58 cubic feet, and if it needs more than that, flipping the second row of seats down opens up an impressive 97.6 cubic feet. It should be enough to hold everything, even the biggest candy in shopping.
Control of technology
Housed in the Enclave’s center console is the simply called Buick infotainment system, featuring an 8-inch touchscreen that is very responsive to inputs. The menu layout is a breeze and controls a great-sounding 10-speaker Bose audio setup, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth. There is also a standard onboard navigation system that performs destination searches with lickity breakdown and route calculations. And for anyone who prefers to transfer infotainment controls to their phones, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features are also included.
To power any smart device on board, there’s a smattering of power sources throughout the Enclave. People in front can choose from a wireless charging cradle, USB ports or a 12-volt outlet, while second-row passengers have USB ports and a three-prong socket on the back of the center console. Anyone on the way back won’t be left out in the cold with a pair of USBs at arm’s length on the side walls.
On the safety front, the Avenir comes standard with a healthy list of driving aids, including Front Collision Warning with Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keeping Assist , rear cross traffic warning, front and rear parking sensors and a crystal clear 360 degree backup camera. Oddly, adaptive cruise control isn’t a standard feature, requiring customers to equip an optional $ 2,095 package to get the piece of tech, which is underwhelming for a top-of-the-line trim level.
The Enclave’s engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, routed to all four wheels of my test car through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Together they return an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. During a week of driving on the Enclave’s mostly surface road, I observed 17.2 mpg.
The transmission provides adequate grunt to steer the big Buick away from traffic lights and tune it when entering the freeway. Full-throttle action may be required during rush hour melt, which doesn’t look particularly elegant, but the engine does things with the gearbox whipping up timely gear swaps. There are also shift levers, which are a little slow to respond to gear shift commands, but surprisingly fast to move down. How many Enclave owners will use them? My guess is not many.
Being a Buick, ride comfort trumps everything else in the dynamic department. With my tester’s optional adaptive shock-absorbing suspension, the ride is super smooth, easily absorbing road imperfections for a relaxed ride. Thankfully, the tuning isn’t overly soft, but there is a noticeable body roll that curves the corners and the 20-inch Continental CrossContact LX tires at the front quickly start pushing in protest if you try to whip it a little bit stronger.
The Enclave’s steering isn’t sharp or instantly responsive to inputs, but it’s direct enough and not overly loose. The brakes are not characterized by a tenacious initial grip, allowing for smooth braking, but offer strong stopping power as you sink further into pedal travel.
How would I specify it
When building my ideal Enclave, I’d start with the Essence trim starting at $ 43,495, including $ 1,195 per destination, with standard front-wheel drive. That would net me leather seats and must-haves like blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning. For traction in four seasons, I’d like to opt for a four-wheel drive that costs $ 2,000, a $ 495 Dark Slate Metallic paint job, and a $ 1,555 sound and sites package for navigation and Bose sound system. All in all, my ideal Buick sounds for $ 47,545.
In comparison, the high-zoot Avenir Enclave with all-wheel drive pictured here brings a much steeper $ 59,590 result. To be fair, it has a ton of extra features like adaptive suspension, electrically folding third row seats, dual-panel roof, massage seats, and adaptive cruise, but it’s another example of having to pay handsomely for piper se. you want more things.
The comfortable choice
The 2021 Buick Enclave starts at $ 41,495 for the basic preferred trim available only with front-wheel drive. If all-wheel drive is a must, the Enclave Essence is the lowest entry point at $ 45,495. From there things can quickly add up with any paint color besides Summit White for an additional cost, and some tech niceties are only available on more expensive higher trim levels.
For the buyer looking for a three-row crossover with an extremely comfortable ride and a spacious cabin with entry-level luxury finishes, the Enclave may just be the ticket. For anyone who appreciates traits like bang-for-your-buck, a tighter driving character and style, but willing to live with something that’s not quite as comfortable inside, choices like Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander are worth checking out on the lower end of Buick’s price spectrum. For Avenir’s money, however, consider the new Acura MDX or Lincoln Aviator, both of which are generally nicer SUVs.