Generous in size and in features, the 2019 Buick Enclave is a handsome three-row family crossover SUV, with luxury appointments within its subdued interior.
The current Enclave arrived in the 2018 model year, and it’s more muscular than its predecessor, with a well-defined profile.
For the 2019 model year, a front-drive model in Preferred trim has joined the lineup. Premium and Avenir editions gain a standard heated steering wheel. An ebony interior is available for Avenir trim.
Buick offers four trim levels: Preferred, Essence, Premium, and Avenir. In each Enclave, a 3.6-liter V-6 produces 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, coupled to a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. All trim levels except the base model can have part-time all-wheel drive instead.
Premium and Avenir models include a rear differential that can deliver power just where it’s needed most. Low fuel economy may be the Enclave’s most notable demerit.
Active-safety features are available, but not at base Preferred level. Every Enclave gets forward-collision warnings, parking sensors, and a rear-seat reminder. Optional driver-assist and advanced safety features include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control with lane-departure warnings, and a surround-view camera system.
Only one set of crash-test ratings has been issued, with mixed results. The NHTSA gave the 2019 Enclave five stars overall and for side-impact, but a four-star score for frontal collision. Rollover prevention (a calculated figure, not derived from an actual test) also was rated four-star. The IIHS has not yet reported any crash-test results.
Buick claims more third-row space than competitors â€“ an assertion backed up by the Enclave’s 120.9-inch wheelbase and 204.3-inch length. Every Enclave includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen and 4G LTE hotspot, six USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The simple IntelliLink interface is among the easiest to use. Buick’s Enclave competes against such crossovers as the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, as well as the new Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade.
Prices do not include $1,195 destination charge.
Preferred ($40,000), the front-drive base model, comes with keyless ignition, tri-zone climate control, a hands-free liftgate, rear parking assist, and 18-inch wheels. All-wheel drive is not available.
Essence ($42,000 with front-drive, $44,000 with all-wheel drive) adds leather seat upholstery, advanced safety technology including lane-departure warnings and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, and 20-inch wheels.
Premium ($48,100 with front-drive, $50,400 with all-wheel drive) includes heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and Bose 10-speaker audio. Safety features include lane-keep assist, forward-collision warnings, and automatic emergency braking.
Avenir ($53,500 with front-drive, $55,800 with all-wheel drive) gets navigation, a heated steering wheel, 20-inch wheels, dual moonroofs, wireless smartphone charging, a surround-view camera system, unique appearance details, and a premium ride suspension.
Well-proportioned and adeptly executed, the Buick Enclave serves as an enviable example of modern design. A balanced and well-defined silhouette helps to camouflage its sizable footprint.
Within the clean and modern nose, chrome trim surrounds a large slat-style grille. LED headlights are bracketed by LED running lights. Door handles, taillights â€“ even the gas cap â€“ neatly align and contrast with the smooth body lines.
A long chrome strip stretches across the carefully balanced rear end. Prominent chromed exhaust tips provide a welcome contrast with darker bumper elements.
Minimalist in essence, the thoughtfully-appointed cabin is spacious and comfortable. Passengers enjoy easy access to both front and second-row seats.
Premium materials are evident throughout the carefully laid-out interior. Even the cloth upholstery in Preferred trim excels in quality and feel.
Front seats are firm and supportive, with abundant space. All Enclaves get power front seats, with heating and cooling available for most.
Cleverly created, sliding second-row captain’s chairs ease access to the third row, forming a center aisle. The right-hand seat pivots forward, opening up a pathway. Even with a child safety seat installed, the seat can be moved. Headroom is ample, too.
Third-row seats are very spacious, even when occupied by two adults, though comfort might be compromised by a low seating position. Taller riders’ heads might reach the ceiling, because of the sweeping roofline.
Not only is the sizable console well-padded, it’s at helpful height. Door armrests, in contrast, are somewhat low and far off.
As for infotainment, the contoured dashboard and control panel surrounds a generous 8.0-inch touchscreen. Only essential buttons and switches are visible, adding to the look of simple utility.
Cargo space totals 97.6 cubic feet when second and third rows are folded flat, dropping to 23.6 cubic feet behind the third row with all seatbacks up â€“ plus a 3.1-cubic foot underfloor storage well.
Confident handling and a comfortable ride complement decent performance potential, but fuel economy trails some rivals.
Although an accelerating Enclave never feels slow, it’s not quite swift, either. Balancing power and refinement, Buick’s spirited V-6 and competent 9-speed automatic yield sufficiently stimulating performance for a vehicle of this size and caliber. Because power grows quickly at lower engine speeds, the Enclave can start off briskly from a standstill.
Gear changes are not only silken smooth but nearly undetectable, with no hint of the nervousness that some similar transmissions suffer.
The Enclave’s suspension combines with electric power steering to provide handling and ride that are firm but comfortable and predictable. Confident handling adds to the pleasure, coping easily with rough pavement and sharp corners. Even without optional adaptive shock absorbers, the tall, heavy Enclave does not lean excessively.
An optional towing package raises capacity from the standard 1,500 pounds to a more practical 5,000 pounds. Buick’s active noise cancellation and sound deadening keep the road experience quiet.
Fuel economy doesn’t quite match competitors, but almost equals the benchmark Honda Pilot. With front-wheel drive, the Enclave is EPA-rated at 18/26 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. All-wheel-drive models lose 1 mpg in each category.
Families looking for a premium three-row crossover with good looks, comfortable ride, and a high-end cabin might fall for the 2019 Buick Enclave. Appropriately equipped for its comparatively high price, this crossover has an appealing list of safety features and options. The base model lacks most advanced safety technology; Essence trim may qualify as best value, for its solid collection of features at a realistic price.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.