- Smooth ride even when the road isn't
- Seating for up to eight and cargo space to match
- Peace of mind that comes with top safety scores
- It's a big crossover and drives like one
- Disappointing acceleration and fuel economy
- Infotainment and climate controls are behind the times
- Interior quality could leave some wanting more
If all you're looking for is something to help you fulfill your day-to-day family-schlepping obligations, there are a number of viable choices. But if you're searching for a crossover SUV with seating for eight and a premium interior, your options are more limited. That leads us to the 2017 Buick Enclave, an upscale yet still practical crossover that undercuts luxury-branded rivals on price.
Aside from its distinctive styling, the main differences between the Enclave and the mechanically related Chevrolet Traverse (the GMC Acadia is redesigned this year) can best be experienced from inside the Enclave's remarkably quiet cabin. It rolls down the open road as a big Buick should, with the comfort-tuned suspension soaking up pavement irregularities and the added sound insulation keeping wind and road noise nicely subdued.
The interior has a third-row seat that provides suitable accommodations for larger kids and smaller adults, something few rival three-row models can claim. Getting back there is made easier by wide-opening rear doors and the standard second-row captain's chairs that can slide up and out of the way. If it's hauling capacity you're looking for, the Enclave offers a generous 23.3 cubic feet of space behind the third row and a downright cavernous cargo hold with all the rear seats folded down.
Though the Enclave excels on the highway, it isn't exactly nimble in everyday driving. It's also one of the oldest models in this segment, and this shows up in the Buick's dated infotainment interface and less-than-stellar acceleration and fuel economy. In contrast, the updated 2017 Acura MDX is sportier to drive, has fresher tech features and gets superior fuel economy. You could also shop the Infiniti QX60 and Volvo XC90 for their more luxurious style or top-end versions of the Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer if you want more power. Overall, though, the 2017 Buick Enclave is hard to beat when it comes to affordably transporting multiple passengers in both style and comfort.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The 2017 Buick Enclave gets a new Sport Touring edition with a satin black grille and distinctive 20-inch chromed alloy wheels with satin black detailing.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Buick Enclave is a three-row crossover available in three trim levels: Convenience, Leather and Premium.
Every Enclave comes standard with second-row captain's chairs and seven-passenger capacity. A second-row bench seat, which increases passenger capacity to eight, is optional on the Leather and Premium models.
Standard equipment for the Convenience trim level, which is only offered on front-wheel-drive versions, includes 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, heated side mirrors, rear privacy glass, a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, remote engine start, tri-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (plus two-way lumbar adjustment), a two-way power front passenger seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The list of standard electronics includes OnStar telematics (with 4G LTE and onboard Wi-Fi hot spot), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, Buick's IntelliLink interface (which includes voice control and smartphone radio app integration), dual USB charge ports, and a six-speaker sound system that includes a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack, a USB audio interface and satellite radio.
Stepping up to the Leather trim level adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, eight-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings and a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert.
The top-of-the-line Premium model includes all of the above, plus 19-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, adaptive headlights, power-folding mirrors (with auto-dimming on the driver side), forward collision alert, lane departure warning, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering column, a navigation system and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
Options on the Leather and Premium models include 20-inch alloy wheels, a dual-panel sunroof, a rear-seat video entertainment system and a towing package. The available Tuscan Edition and Sport Touring Edition packages provide distinctive trim and wheels with bronze and satin black finishes, respectively.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2017 Buick Enclave, you'll find a space that's attractively designed. It's not as plush as some true luxury models, but there are few touches (such as the padded vinyl trim on the dash with its contrasting stitching) that help establish the upscale vibe.
From the driver's perspective, the dash is centered around the 6.5-inch touchscreen of Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, which allows for smartphone and app integration. The screen is mounted a little lower than the pilot's natural sightline, making it necessary to take your eyes off the road for longer than we'd like. The system's built-in menus are intuitive, though the touchscreen can be slow to respond to some inputs and the inherent complexity means it can take awhile to get comfortable with finding what you're looking for. Climate controls use three easy-to-manipulate knobs, though some of the surrounding buttons are on the small side.
As for the rest of the occupants, those in the first and second rows have more than enough head- and legroom. That said, the bottom cushions on the second-row seats are a bit low, which can make taller adults a tad uncomfortable unless they slide their seats all the way back. Of course, doing so puts a serious dent in third-row legroom.
Speaking of that third row, it offers decent legroom for teens and small adults as long as those second-row occupants are willing to forgo sliding their seats back. One downside is that rear visibility is extremely limited when all seats are occupied.
The Enclave's spaciousness extends to its cargo hold. For starters, there's more space here behind the third-row seat than most rivals. Fold down the second and third rows of seats, and you have a cavernous space that's ideal for hauling bulky items such as furniture.
The 2017 Buick Enclave is equipped with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Also standard is a large airbag that deploys between the front seats; it's designed to protect occupants from colliding with one another in the event of a side impact. The standard OnStar system includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention, and remote door unlock.
The Leather and Premium models include rear cross-traffic alert and a blind-spot warning system. The Premium trim also gets forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems, both of which are available on the Leather trim level as extra-cost options.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Enclave with the standard 19-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is a few feet better than average for this class. An Enclave with the optional 20-inch wheels halted in 126 feet.
In government crash tests, the Enclave earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Enclave also did well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, earning the highest possible rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front-impact test as well as the side-impact, roof strength, and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
All 2017 Buick Enclaves come with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on Leather and Premium models. Properly equipped with the optional towing package, the Enclave can tow up to 4,500 pounds.
In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive Enclave went from zero to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, which is slower than average for large crossovers, some of which are equipped with more powerful V8 engines.
The EPA estimates that a front-wheel-drive Enclave will return 18 mpg combined (15 city/22 highway). Adding all-wheel drive brings that number down slightly to 17 mpg combined (15 city /22 highway). These are below-average fuel economy numbers for a large, V6-powered crossover.
The Enclave's 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic powertrain is adequate in everyday driving, but it runs out of juice in situations where full-throttle acceleration is called for, such as passing a slower vehicle on a two-lane road. Some rivals, particularly those with turbocharged or V8 engines, are noticeably stronger.
Around town, the 2017 Buick Enclave generally feels like the big, substantial vehicle it is. Maneuvering in tight parking lots can be a challenge, especially because of the hampered rear visibility. On the highway, though, the Enclave excels thanks to its smooth ride and library-quiet cabin.
Do you need a big three-row crossover SUV that can shuttle lots of people and cargo? The 2017 Buick Enclave could be for you. Besides its utilitarian abilities, it's also pleasant to drive. But read more to learn why some rival models might serve you better.