Drive Time: Sales heat up for redesigned Buick Enclave
January 5, 2018
With sunnier days and warmer temperatures into the new year, the appearance of the redesigned 2018 Enclave has brightened, too, showrooms of Buick dealerships. The new Enclave is one of the most refined of a strong field of midsize SUVs and crossovers.
With the 2018 model in the showrooms for the final two months of the just-concluded year, the Enclave increased sales from 7,308 units to 11,910, an increase of 63 percent. It is the second-best-selling Buick model, trailing only the Encore, a compact-sized SUV.
The Enclave underwent an attractive exterior remake, is 2 inches longer overall, has a bit more power and added safety. From the waterfall grille and extended wings on the Buick logo up front, to the light on the ground giving "the kicking spot" for the power liftgate at the rear, the Enclave is sleeker and filled with new appeal.
A new 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is mated to the 3.6-liter V-6 engine, for which horsepower has been boosted from 288 to 310, with torque of 266 lb.-ft. The Intelligent All Wheel Drive system monitors and adjusts for improved traction. A somewhat awkward setup for shift sequence on a new electronic shifter requires plenty of practice for shift smoothness.
My recent test was aboard the Enclave Premium, one of four trim levels. Its base price of $50,315 climbed to $57,035 with optional add-ons of navigation, dual moonroof, full-camera surround vision, 20-inch aluminum wheels, trailering equipment and white frost exterior finish. The V-6 engine, lane-keeping assist and front/side/head curtain airbags are among a long list of standard equipment.
The Enclave's wheelbase has been lengthened by 2 inches also to 120.9. Among big three-row SUVs, the Enclave's overall length of 204.3 inches is a bit shorter than the Nissan Armada (208.6) and Toyota Sequoia (205.1), though longer than the Dodge Durango at 202 inches, the Mazda CX-9 at 199.4, the Volkswagen Atlas 198.3, Volvo XC90 194.9 and the Honda Pilot 194.4.
Recommended Stories For You
An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration is prominent in the roomier interior.
The Enclave doesn't offer a second-row bench seat; they're captain's chairs with walking space between them for assisting access to the third-row seating. Fewer and fewer buyers have requested second-row benches in recent years, Buick said. The second-row seats slide forward and backward and will recline.
The passenger-side seat will also fold forward to create another opening to the third row. The third-row seats are roomy enough and cushioned enough to accommodate adults.
Cargo space behind the third row is 23.6 cubic feet; fold down the third row and the storage grows to 58 feet. A hands-free power liftgate, opened by a swing of the foot, is standard. A remote-opening sensor shines a Buick shield logo light on the ground as a spotlight for where the "kicker" should aim.
The Buick averaged 21.1 miles per gallon in an even split of highway and city road time. The Enclave rides on Continental 255/55R20 tires.
The Enclave is built in Lansing, Mich.; its engine and transmission are put together in Mexico.
The first Buick I reviewed in my long career as an automotive columnist was 40 years ago this winter — a 1978 LeSabre four-door sedan. "A big car with a big trunk and air conditioning for about $7,000," was my opening, brief description. It had been downsized, with a reduction of 9 inches in overall length. Power was from a smooth-running 350-cubic-inch V-8 with four-barrel carburetor.
— Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at email@example.com.