2021 Buick Enclave
2021 Buick Enclave
With its comfortable cabin and ride quality, the 2021 Buick Enclave might be the best luxury three-row crossover SUV that GM makes.
The 2021 Enclave is related to the Chevy Traverse, but it’s softer and more luxurious. Measuring 204.3 inches from bumper to bumper, the Enclave is big—so big it can hold up to seven passengers.
It’s unchanged for 2021. It’s powered by a 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6 that drives the front or all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission.
The EPA rates the 2021 Enclave with all-wheel drive at 17/25/20 mpg, which is near the bottom of its class. With front-wheel drive, it does 1 mpg better.
The NHTSA gives it five stars overall for safety, with four stars for front and rollover crash protection. The IIHS gives it mostly its top “Good” rating in tests, but hasn’t subjected the Enclave to its small-overlap crash tests on the driver or passenger side, and they’re the most difficult for cars to ace.
It’s disappointing that GM doesn’t include automatic emergency braking on more affordable models. Only the top two versions get automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system. Adaptive cruise control is available as an option.
The Enclave comes in Preferred, Essence, Premium, and Avenir trim levels. All-wheel drive is available on all but the Preferred, for $2,300.
At about $42,000, the Enclave Preferred comes with cloth upholstery, heated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three-zone automatic climate control, a wi-fi hotspot, and 18-inch wheels.
The Essence adds leather upholstery and other features.
The Enclave Premium, at nearly $50,000, comes with automatic emergency braking. It adds leather upholstery, a premium sound system, heated and cooled front seats with massagers, heated second-row captain’s chairs, heated steering wheel, active noise cancellation, six USB ports, parking sensors, and a power liftgate.
For about $55,000, the Enclave Avenir rides softly into Cadillac country, with softer leather, a surround-view camera system, 20-inch wheels, a wireless smartphone charger, and a panoramic sunroof. Options include adaptive dampers and tow packages.
The shape is hardly unique, but the Buick Enclave shines in its execution. It’s subtle and svelte. The small details are sharp, and judicious use of chrome goes a long way.
There’s a hint of Coke-bottle curves in the Enclave’s swoopy rear fenders. Up front, the wide grille wears a narrow band of chrome and a floating badge that Cadillac’s designers could learn something from. In back, the Enclave carves out exhaust ports to give the big Buick a stronger look.
The cabin is stylishly understated. The curved dashboard is wrapped in soft materials, and its 8.0-inch touchscreen is impressive, not overwhelming. Most of the Enclave’s materials are high quality, meeting the standard for the high price. Leather upholstery is standard on every Enclave except the Preferred. Top trims get heated, cooled, and massaging buckets.
The second-row captain’s chairs can be heated as well, and offer a good 38.9 inches of leg room.
If three of the passengers are kids, the Enclave will carry seven comfortably. Three kids in the wayback will be comfortable, with 33.5 inches of leg room to kick the backs of the captain’s chairs.
Behind them, there’s 23.6 cubic feet for cargo. The Enclave carries up to 97.6 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded down.
Every Enclave is powered by a 310-hp V-6 shifted through a 9-speed automatic. It’s smooth, and the engine’s sound is muted through Buick’s active noise cancellation. It’s not quick since the Enclave weighs more than two tons, but it easily keeps pace on the highway.
It’s the ride that is the Enclave’s greatest gift. Even on the big 20-inch wheels, it’s supple. The base suspension is soft, but the optional adaptive dampers on Avenir trims can be relatively adept.
The Enclave is meant to be driven at a relaxed pace. Its steering is responsive and quick, although not very firm.
Two all-wheel-drive systems are offered. The first, which is available on the Essence trim, is basic. On Premium and Avenir models, Buick uses a twin-clutch system that moves the power across the rear tires for maximum traction, not just front to rear. It’s the best system in snow.
When properly equipped, the Enclave can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The 2021 Buick Enclave puts sleek style into a family-friendly format. It’s equipped with a smooth powertrain, superb ride, great looks, and comfortable seating for four adults and a couple of kids.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection