Introduced in 2008 as a more upscale version of the Chevrolet Traverse and a replacement for both the Rainier and Terraza, the Enclave quickly became one of Buick’s most popular modern nameplates in the U.S. and a big hit in China. After nearly ten years on the market, the first-generation Enclave was retired to make way for a brand-new model. Not only redesigned from a clean sheet inside and out, the new Enclave also rides GM’s fresh 1XX platform and uses the company’s latest V-6 engine. It also packs an array of new tech and safety features, as well as premium materials inside the cabin.
Introduced at the 2017 New York Auto Show, the new Enclave draws its styling cues from the recently unveiled Avenir and Avistaconcept. What’s more, it was used to introduce Buick’s new luxurysub-brand. Released under the Avenir name, it will be offered as a range-topping trim with higher quality materials and exclusive features. On paper, the new Enclave has what it takes to move Buick higher in the premium class. Find out how it stacks up against the competition in the comprehensive review below.
Exterior comparison old vs new Enclave.
I always considered the first-generation Enclave to be of the “meh” variety design-wise. Actually, I can say the same about any production Buick out there, but this just changed with the new-generation Enclave. Heavily inspired by the company’s recent concept cars, the Enclave is finally the modern SUV it deserves to be. It’s fresh, it’s sleek, and has that premium appearance Buick has been aiming but failing to offer in recent years.
The first thing that stands out is the SUV’s sleek and sporty stance. The wide front grille and the slender headlamps both contribute to the Enclave’s new look. The bumper also has horizontally oriented vents and foglamps, further adding to the road-hugging appearance. The entire front fascia is based on the Avista and Avenir concepts, which is probably Buick’s best design decision yet.
“The wide front grille and the slender headlamps both contribute to the Enclave’s new, sporty look.”
Moving onto the sides, Buick kept the one thing I actually liked about the previous Enclave: the swoopy beltline that gave the crossover a muscular, sculpted appearance. Although revised here and there, the beltline is very similar to the outgoing model, peaking above the wheel arches — and creating a pair of sexy rear haunches — and dropping slightly under the rear door windows. Buick also rehashed the character line above the side skirts. The element looks more balanced now and sports a finer chrome trim. Other modifications to the profile include a front fender vent, new, more aerodynamic side mirrors, and a redesigned glasshouse. The roof also sits lower, adding to the SUV’s sporty stance.
The rear end is equally dramatic, now sporting slimmer taillights with a massive chrome strip between them. The bumper is standard SUV business, but the rounded rear glass and the chrome trim that extends from the roof toward the tailgate spoiler give the Enclave a unique look.
The redesigned body also comes with new technology, most notably being the Evonic Acrylite and bi-function LED headlamps and taillights. The compound curvature of the new light units create a smooth, uniform and recognizable appearance, as well as increase visibility during the night. Buick also offers optional IntelliBeam headlamps on Premium and Avenir models, which add improved visibility without having to switch the high beams on and off manually.
“Unlike the Acura MDX, the Lincoln MKX has the sleek, unique design to go against the new Enclave.”
There are quite a few seven-seat SUV on the market right now, but we’re going to focus on the premium models. One of them is the Acura MDX (left). Made by Honda’s so-called luxury division, the MDX isn’t the kind of SUV that would compete against BMW and Cadillac in terms of luxury features. This American-made seven-seater falls in the more affordable premium category that’s not as fancy as the German stuff but outguns products from Honda and Chevy. And this is exactly why the MDX is can be cross-shopped with the Enclave. Redesigned for 2017, it also made a big step forward in terms of design, now employing Acura’s most recent styling language. However, the MDX looks rather mundane compared to the new Enclave. The front fascia may be unique and sporty in its own way, but the featureless profile and the SUV-specific roof aren’t as exciting. On the other hand, if you’re looking for that classic SUV stance, the MDX is just the right vehicle to get.
The second SUV to consider here is the Lincoln MKX (right). Much like Acura, Lincoln isn’t yet able to compete with the likes of Cadillac, but it is indeed a premium offering that stands out compared to the Ford Edge it is based on. And unlike the MDX, it has the sleek, unique design to go against the new Enclave. The split grille looks like two giant nostrils while the swept-back headlamps with the swoopy LED pattern make it look angry in the dark. The MKX’s beltline is very similar to the Enclave, showcasing muscular shoulders, while the roofline is decidedly sportier than the MDX. The rear fascia is intriguing too, thanks to the big red light bar between the taillights. To be honest, the MKX is my favorite design of the three, despite the Enclave’s fancy split window trim on the D-pillar.
|Acura MDX||Lincoln MKX||Buick Enclave|
|Track front/rear (Inches)||66.3/66.3||64.8/64.7||67.3/67.0|
|Ground Clearance (Inches)||7.3||7.8||TBA|
|Angle (Approach/ Departure/ Breakover)||14.9°/17.4°/15.2°||18.0°/23.6°/16.4°||TBA|
Interior comparison old vs new Enclave.
While the exterior of the outgoing model was rather bland and boring, the cabin was actually a nice place to spend time in. I’d say it wasn’t as premium as Buick wanted us to believe, but the styling was easy on the eyes and the fit and finish was pretty good for the price. The center stack was also a bit too cluttered for my taste.
Looking at the redesigned Enclave’s interior, it seems that Buick fixed many of the previous SUV’s issues. The first thing that catches the eye is the new dashboard, which has a more aerodynamic, organic design and a simple center stack with fewer buttons and knobs. As you might have already guessed, most controls have been moved into the infotainment display, which now measures eight inches and includes features like Teen Driver, Rear Seat Reminder, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Rear Seat Reminder is an industry-first feature designed to remind drivers to check the back seat as they exit their vehicles under certain circumstances.
“The instrument cluster was also updated to a modern design, while the steering wheel has a more three-dimensional layout.”
The instrument cluster was also updated to a modern design, while the steering wheel has a more three-dimensional layout and controls that seem to be more ergonomic. There’s also a new center console, revised seats, and new door panels. It’s pretty obvious that Buick used more premium materials inside the cabin, including leather and wood veneer, but the dashboard and door panels still look somewhat plasticky. On the other hand, the fit and finish are top notch and finding faults is a difficult mission.
The Enclave is well equipped in standard trim, featuring keyless entry and push-button start, hands-free power-programmable liftgate with Buick tri-shield logo, tri-zone automatic climate control, universal home remote, and six USB ports. The OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with five years of the OnStar Basic Plan was also added at no additional cost.
Comfort was further improved by means of Buick’s QuietTuning feature and active noise cancellation enhancement. Additionally, a 10-speaker Bose Premium sound system with new components, new tuning and a redesigned bass enclosure is available if you’re looking to enhance the sound experience.
Finally, the new Enclave is roomier thanks to the longer wheelbase and optimized interior packaging. Buick claims that the third row offers 5.6 inches more legroom than Acura MDX, 4.5 inches more than the Audi Q7, and nearly three inches more than the Infiniti QX60. The Enclave also boasts 10-percent more cubic feet of overall interior space when including the underfloor storage and 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seats. As you’d expect from an SUV, the second- and third-row seats fold flat to create a nearly flat load floor. An optional power-folding third row makes reconfiguring more convenient, while the available second-row SmartSlide Seats provide easy access to the third row.
“The MDX is fully prepped for this mission, even though it’s not quite as appealing as the Enclave.”
While exterior design is an important part of a vehicle, nothing matters more than the interior when it comes to premium vehicles. And needless to say, the MDX (left) is fully prepped for this mission, even though it’s not quite as appealing as the Enclave. The interior didn’t change much styling-wise for 2017, so the layout isn’t exactly as fresh as it could be. Still, the dashboard is well organized, albeit a bit cluttered in the center stack area, while the instrument cluster provides all the information a driver needs. On the other hand, the steering wheel feels a bit old-fashioned, while most of the dashboard looks like its made of hard plastic. The wood veneer and the chrome inserts make things a bit better, but overall, the MDX is no match for the Enclave’s brand-new interior. Acura’s seven-seater also lacks some of the feature you get from Buick, but the optional Entertainment, Technology, and Advance package add a ton of features, including heated second-row seats, nine- or 16.2-inch VGA screen, rear sunshades, GPS-linked climate control, remote engine start, third-row USB ports, and many more. Basically, the entry-level MDX isn’t as well equipped as the Enclave.
The MKX (right) is around two years older, but its interior is far from dated. Compared to the MDX, it has better materials (or at least used in a smarter fashion), a more modern instrument cluster, and a steering wheel that doesn’t shout “the 1990s called, they want you back” at you. The center stack is a bit of a mess with way too many controls for, but the layout is pretty intuitive. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel as modern as the Enclave overall. Styling aside, the MKX is packed with Lincoln’s latest luxury features. It comes with leather on almost every surface, plenty of wood and metal inserts, and a wide range of color combinations. There’s also storage space in the center console and door panels, and comfortable seats up front. The options list includes 22-way power front seats, and a premium Revel Audio system just to name a few. Whether the MKX is a good alternative to the Enclave is a case of what you need in an SUV, but the Lincoln has a major drawback: it’s a five-seat vehicle only.
HOW MUCH LUGGAGE CAN YOU CARRY?
Speaking of which, a quick comparo reveals that the Enclave is the roomiest proposition overall. The Buick wins the headroom and shoulder room battle by a large margin and nudges just in front of the MDX when it comes to hip room. The Lincoln MKX provides a bit more legroom in the first and second rows, but the difference is minor. When it comes to trunk space, the Enclave is once again king, being able to swallow almost 98 cubic feet of luggage behind the front seats, compared to the MDX’s 68.4 cubic feet. It’s not as spacious as the Lincoln behind the second row at 58 versus 68.8 cubic feet, but it’s miles above the MDX, which offers only 38.4 cubic feet.
|Acura MDX||Lincoln MKX||Buick Enclave|
|Headroom first/second/third row (Inches)||38.1/38.3/35.6||39.9/39.2/N/A||41.0/39.9/37.7|
|Legroom first/second/third row (Inches)||41.4/6.6/28.1||42.8/39.6/N/A||41.2/38.9/33.7|
|Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches)||61.1/59.1/54.7||58.9/59.0/N/A||62.4/61.7/57.3|
|Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches)||57.5/57.8/40.6||56.4/55.6/N/A||59.1/57.7/48.5|
|EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft)||132.7||108.3|
|Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft)||68.4/38.4/15.0||37.2/68.8||23.6/58.0/97.6|
Just like its predecessor, the new Enclave gets its juice from a 3.6-liter V-6. But while displacement and cylinder count are identical to the outgoing SUV, the second-gen vehicle uses a the new LGX V-6, which GM introduced in 2016. The unit is already available in the Buick Lacrosse, and it can also be found in almost all Cadillacs, the GMC Acadia, and the Chevrolet Camaro.
The 3.6-liter mill is rated at 302 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in the Enclave, which makes it the least powerful version of the engine. For reference, the LaCrosse comes with 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet, while the Chevy Camaro and most Cadillacs have the 335-horsepower and 285-pound-foot variant.
Be that as it may, I can’t complain about the new Enclave being underpowered. Compared to the previous model, it boasts an extra 14 horsepower, while being significantly lighter. The transmission is a Hydra-Matic nine-speed automatic, which replaces the highly criticized six-speed auto.
Buick says that the Enclave will hit 60 mph in 7.2 seconds in FWD configuration and in 7.5 ticks with all-wheel-drive. Fuel economy is estimated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with FWD and 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with AWD. The SUV is now able to tow up to 5,000 pounds with the factory-installed towing package.
The redesigned chassis includes a MacPherson strut front suspension, a five-link rear suspension, and an electric variable power-assist steering with Active Return Assist. Stopping power comes from four-wheel-disc and variable brake system with power assist and Duralife brake rotors and four-channel ABS.
|2018 Buick Enclave||2017 Buick Enclave|
|Engine||3.6L V6 with stop/start technology||3.6L V-6 DOHC VVT with direct injection|
|Horsepower||302 HP @ 6,800 RPM||288 HP @ 6,300 RPM|
|Torque||260 LB-FT @ 2,800 RPM||270 LB-FT @ 3,400 RPM|
|Buick-estimated fuel economy (city / hwy / comb):||17/25/20 (FWD)
|Buick-estimated 0-60 mph (seconds)||7.2 (FWD)
|7.9 seconds (FWD)
7.9 seconds (AWD)
|Transmission||Hydra-Matic 9T65 Nine Speed Automatic||Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic|
The MDX also comes with a V-6 under the hood. The 3.5-liter is borrowed from Honda and makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet in the SUV. It’s a bit less powerful than the Enclave but makes up for it in the fuel economy department. Thanks to its variable cylinder management system that cuts fuel and spark to three of the six cylinders under light loads, it’s able to return up to 26 mpg on the highway. Front-wheel-drive is standard, but the optional SH-AWD system is available on every trim. Unlike Buick, Acura offers a hybrid drivetrain that combines a 3.0-liter V-6 and two electric motors. This version comes with 325 horsepower on tap and returns a whopping 25 mpg in the city.
Unlike the MDX and Enclave, the MKX is offered with a choice of two gasoline engines. The first option is a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6 that cranks out 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of twist. If that’s not enough, you can go with the turbocharged, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, which generates 330 horsepower and a whopping 370 pound-feet of torque. Both engine mate to a six-speed automatic and the latter is obviously the most fuel efficient of the two. Needless to say, if performance is what you’re interested in, the MKX is the best option you have.
|Acura MDX||Lincoln MKX||Lincoln MKX||Buick Enclave|
|Engine||3.5-liter V-6||3.7-liter 24-valve Ti-VCT V6||2.7-liter EcoBoost® twin-turbocharged V6||3.6L V6|
|Horsepower||290 HP @ 6,200 RPM||303 HP @ 6,500 RPM||335 HP @ 5,500 RPM||302 HP @ 6,800 RPM|
|Torque||267 LB-FT @ 4,700 RPM||278 Lb-FT @ 4,000 RPM||380 LB-FT @ 3,000 RPM||260 LB-FT @ 2,800 RPM|
|Transmission||9-Speed Automatic||Six-speed SelectShift® automatic||Six-speed SelectShift® automatic||Hydra-Matic 9T65 Nine Speed Automatic|
|Fuel economy City/Highway/Combined||19/27/22||17/26/20||17/26/21||17/25/20 (FWD)
|Curb weight||4,028 Lbs||4,168 Lbs||4,258 Lbs||4,358 Lbs|
|Towing Capacity||3,500 Lbs||3,500 Lbs||1,500 Lbs|
Buick made quite a few modifications to the safety package, which now includes more standard features than ever. In addition to the seven airbags, the new Enclave comes with a rear vision camera and rear park assist. Among the available crash-avoidance technologies are forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, safety alert seat, following distance indicator, and front park assist.
Pricing for the new Enclave is not yet available, but expect the redesigned crossover to fetch a bit more than the outgoing model. With the current SUV priced form $38,990, it’s safe to assume that the upcoming seven-seater will cost a bit more than $40,000 before options. The new generation also brings renamed trims model. The base model will be called simply the Enclave, while the next level will be known as the Essence. The range-topping trim will be sold as the Premium. However, the latter will be superseded by the new Avenir version, part of Buick’s luxury sub-brand.
Priced from $44,050, the MDX isn’t exactly cheap, and this can be a problem given that it’s not as fresh as the Enclave on the inside and under the hood. Opt for all-wheel-drive and the Technology and Advance package, and it’ll set you back a whopping $58,500. The most affordable of the bunch, the Lincoln MKX starts from $38,260 in base Premier trim. Go with the Select model, and it’ll cost $41,550, while the range-topping Reserve version fetches $45,560 before any options are added.
|Acura MDX (FWD)||$44,050|
|Acura MDX (FWD) with Technology Package||$48,460|
|Acura MDX (FWD) with Technology and Entertainment Packages||$50,460|
|Acura MDX (FWD) with Advance Package (with Idle Stop)||$54,500|
|Acura MDX (FWD) with Advance & Entertainment Packages (with Idle Stop)||$56,500|
|Acura MDX (SH-AWD)||$46,050|
|Acura MDX (SH-AWD) with Technology Package||$50,460|
|Acura MDX (SH-AWD) with Technology & Entertainment Packages||$52,460|
|Acura MDX (SH-AWD) with Advance Package (with Idle Stop)||$56,500|
|Acura MDX (SH-AWD) with Advance & Entertainment Packages (with Idle Stop)||$58,500|
|Acura MDX Sport Hybrid (SH-AWD) with Technology Package||$51,960|
|Acura MDX Sport Hybrid (SH-AWD) with Advance Package||$58,000|
|Lincoln MKX Premiere||$38,260|
|Lincoln MKX Select||$41,550|
|Lincoln MKX Reserve||$45,560|
If flamboyant design is your thing and you’re not a fan of Buick or Lincoln, the Infiniti QX60 might be the proper SUV for you. The styling is definitely unique, and you also get plenty of sculpted body elements, including a swoopy beltline that would make every Mercedes-Benz owner jealous. However, the QX60 is a more traditional SUV as far as roof shape goes, so you’ll have to leave with the more utilitarian looking rear end. The interior may need a few nips and tucks and a cleaner center stack, but all the premium features you’d except from a vehicle of this caliber are in there, including an InTouch infotainment system, lots of soft-touch surfaces, and even an optional Theater Package for rear-seat passengers. Motivation comes from Nissan’s familiar 3.5-liter V-6 engine, rated at 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Pricing starts form $43,100 for the FWD model and jumps to $44,900 with all-wheel-drive.
The CX-9 isn’t exactly on the premium side of the SUV market, but Mazda upped the ante in the comfort and features department just enough to make it a solid contender for the Enclave. And it looks downright gorgeous too. Not only sporting the brand’s already famous Kodo design, the CX-9 also benefits from a number of unique features, such as the larger grille that extends into the headlamps and the aggressive front bumper. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the sleek roof of the Enclave and MKX, with the rear section boasting a more utilitarian design. The interior is pretty basic as far as styling goes, but the soft-touch plastic surfaces (combined with the optional leather) and the metallic inserts give it a premium feel. Convenience features include a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen for the MazdaConnect infotainment system, a 4.5-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster, a color heads-up display projected onto the lower windshield, and two USB ports for rear passengers. The CX-9 can be ordered with a bespoke Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers. Pricing starts from $31,520, which makes it the most affordable vehicle in this comparison.
Needless to say, the new Enclave is a significant departure from the previous generation and a big step up for Buick on the premium ladder. And it turns out that Buick learned a few things about current market trends and redesigned the Enclave into a sportier, youthful proposition. And if this the design language Buick will be using from now on, we should be seeing a bunch of gorgeous vehicles from the brand over the next few years.