2018 Buick Enclave Review

I hate repeating myself, don’t you? Every time I have to repeat something, especially in a car, I have to say it a bit louder, which comes across as more aggressive and then everyone else in the car thinks I’ve become irate and belligerent when I am really just trying to overcome the obviously terrible acoustics in a car.

I know I’m not the only one. I thought the only solution to this issue would be to provide each person in a car with a headset like we’re in a helicopter in an action movie.

But the 2018 Buick Enclave manages to have a cabin that’s so quiet, I never had to repeat myself to my passengers. Not even once!

Buick is strutting its stuff these days with stylish cars that are also easy to live with and the Enclave follows that trend too. As the brand’s biggest car, it packs much of the high-end features and trimmings that Buick should be known for.

Sleek Design

I quite like the Enclave’s clean and reserved design. It’s a nice departure from the old design that had an excess of chrome and portholes, like a car that was designed to be as close to a yacht as possible. The new car is clean and sophisticated, with a design that I think will age well.  There’s still chrome, but it accents the rest of the car’s sleek styling well. 

The exterior styling is also kind of functional, with a Buick emblem puddle light that doubles as a target for your foot so you know where to activate the hands-free liftgate. Place your foot (or if you’re scared, maybe a friend’s foot) on that light and watch the power liftgate open. No more waving your foot like a panicked can-can dancer.

The interior is also elegant and is one of my favorite parts of the Enclave. The caramel brown leather upholstery immediately grabs my attention. There’s plenty of space up front and in the second row of seats. Passengers in the second row aren’t treated poorly, in fact, they’re given heated seats, automatic climate control, and USB ports to charge any mobile devices.

The third row is also surprisingly hospitable, with some amenities back there like cupholders and USB charging ports. When those seats aren’t in use, they can be folded up easily using buttons found in the cargo area. The buttons also unfold the seats as needed, which is helpful because folks who have that many friends or family members to put into a single car must be way too exhausted from all their social obligations to manually fold seats. There’s a very usable 23.6 cubic feet of storage behind the third row, which can expand to an enormous total of 97.6 cubic feet when you fold the third and second rows.

The seats are comfortable and perfect for long road trips. In fact, they proved to be perfect for two separate four-hour stints on the road. Passengers had no complaints about stiffness or back pain and never needed to stop to stretch.

Interior Highlights

The infotainment system was easy to use and offered Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. This was a good pairing for the onboard WiFi provided by On Star’s 4G LTE service, which can also help you stream playlists and podcasts.

The car had a number of other handy features including heated seats, heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control up front, and a great camera system to help park the seven-seater with ease. I’m a little disappointed that Buick saves some of the most convenient technology, like adaptive cruise control, as options on its most expensive trim level (the Avenir).

The highlight is just how quiet the cabin is. Buick has made this a staple of its brand. Each new car the brand puts out is quiet and more comfortable to be in. This car has active noise cancellation that’s truly effective. As mentioned before, you can have conversations with ease while this car is in motion, a trait that is atypical for a vehicle of this size. It definitely cut down on people saying “huh?” or “what?”

Under the Hood

The noise cancellation also leads to a muted sound from the engine bay. There’s a 3.6-liter V6 that’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s a good powertrain that’s surprisingly smooth. It generates barely any vibrations when being wrung out, and the power comes on predictably with no peakiness. It’s practically perfect, although the nine-speed automatic can shudder at slower speeds. It was rare, but noticeable when it happened.

I loved the all-wheel-drive system, a twin-clutch iteration that is quick to adapt to changing traction conditions. Drivers can also activate or deactivate it via a button on the dashboard allowing them to turn off the system to save fuel economy. Interestingly, the Enclave shares a lot with the Chevrolet Traverse, but the Chevy has a special knob to select off-road driving conditions, making it seem a bit more versatile. The AWD model earns 20 mpg combined, and refueling was pretty much the only thing that got me out of the driver’s seat.

Handling is what you can expect from a big car like this. It’s confidence inspiring but can feel a bit lumbering at times. You won’t feel insignificant on the road, though, and that’s what one wants in a crossover like this. It’s surprisingly easy to get accustomed to the size of the Enclave and the steering is direct and well weighted. Higher trim level versions of the car can be equipped with a continuously variable real-time damping system, that can firm up or soften the suspension to bring better balance to the ride and handling of the car.

Pricing

The price tag for this premium family vehicle is pretty reasonable. It starts at $40,990 in the U.S. ($49,026 in Canada) for a base front-wheel-drive model. Going all out on the option sheet leads you to an all-wheel-drive Avenir model, which represents the best that Buick has. It costs $59,490 ($66,165 in Canada). Not bad for a halo product from a premium automaker.

The Verdict: 2018 Buick Enclave Review

The Buick Enclave is a well priced, seven-seater crossover with plenty of features and a great powertrain. The standout feature of this crossover, however, was how quiet it was. I loved the noise cancellation technology, which saved my sanity when trying to converse with other passengers, but the total package is wonderful as well.

This review first appeared on AutoGuide

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