2018 Buick Enclave Release Date, Price and Specs – Roadshow
Buick’s original Enclave lasted for eight years. While that’s old in automotive terms, sales of the large crossover SUV stubbornly kept on rising. You’d think that General Motors wouldn’t want to mess with success, but it has. Fortunately, that’s good news, because this new model is pretty darn good.
The 2018 Enclave builds on Buick’s popular three-row SUV in a smart way: It takes all the stuff that wasn’t so great about the last one and takes steps to remedy it. After eight years, the Enclave’s sheetmetal was looking a bit on the dowdy side. The new Enclave, though, borrows its design direction from Buick’s 2017 Avista coupe concept, as well as everything that came after it, like the new Regal and LaCrosse models. As a result, the new Enclave is a handsome vehicle, even though I’m not entirely sold on its “floating” D-pillar look on the side.
The big Buick’s interior is vastly improved, as well. Gone is the myriad of buttons and shapes littering the dashboard and center console. In its place is a far smoother design that makes good use of long, sweeping lines that emphasize the cabin’s width. The materials — on the top-tier Avenir model, at least — looks and feels expensive, especially the seat leather. I’ll have to drive lower-spec models to know for sure, but at first blush, the Enclave doesn’t feel like a carbon copy of the Chevrolet Traverse, even though both SUVs share the same platform.
While some three-row SUVs aren’t really big enough to fit grown adults in their way-back seats, the Enclave is. At a launch event I attended in the greater Atlanta area, Buick packed Enclaves full of journalists on multiple occasions, and as long as second-row occupants were willing to slide their seats forward a smidge, my gangly six-foot frame wasn’t uncomfortable back there. Ingress and egress were easy, thanks to a smartly folding second-row seat. A swooping roofline cuts into headroom somewhat, though.
One big qualm I have with the interior is the connection between the driver and the standard nine-speed automatic. This gearshift looks and feels like a far less expensive version of BMW’s complicated lever, including the park button up top. It’s not particularly intuitive, but with enough practice, you’ll remember that reverse is up and to the left. Having this weird by-wire shifter shared with the LaCrosse and Chevrolet Bolt EV has at least allowed Buick to open up some space under the center console for additional storage, though, which is a nice touch.
Speaking of the nine-speed automatic, it comes mated to a 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Whether the Enclave packs front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, acceleration is ample, with a neat little engine note popping up when you really lay into the gas. The transmission works its way through the gears with such smoothness that it’s hard to discern when it’s shifting unless you’re listening for it. This powertrain makes for properly smooth acceleration.