The 2015 Buick Enclave is a midsize-to-large luxury crossover that boasts exceptional practicality, high-end touches and impressive gas mileage. It's made huge strides compared to old Buick models, combining impressive fit and finish with state-of-the-art technology. For those in need of a premium family hauler, there might be no better choice -- unless you're looking to tow a big boat or crawl up the side of a mountain.
The Enclave is built on the same General Motors unibody architecture as the Chevrolet Traverse and the GMC Acadia. In a short time, all three have built reputations as capable people-movers. While the Acadia takes on a more truck-like personality, the Traverse is a well-rounded everyday runner, and the Enclave is the most upscale member of the family. It isn't quite at the caliber of a Lexus or a Mercedes, but for the price, it might present the best near-luxury value among 3-row vehicles.
What's New for 2015?
The Enclave offers no major changes for 2015, except for a newly available heated steering wheel and a few new color options.
What We Like
Spacious cargo area; 7- or 8-passenger seating; upscale interior; extensive safety equipment; plush ride; stylish appearance
What We Don't
Relatively low towing capacity; poor rear visibility; difficult to maneuver in tight spots
The Buick Enclave uses a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 288 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission offered is a 6-speed automatic. The result is Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive or 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with optional all-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
The Enclave doesn't technically offer trim levels like a normal car. Instead, there are three different equipment groups that drivers can choose from: Convenience, Leather and Premium.
The Convenience ($41,000) already features a long list of standard equipment, including such items as a rearview camera, a power driver's seat, a power lift gate, tri-zone automatic climate control, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, rear park assist and a remote starter. Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system with a center-mounted touchscreen is also standard.
Step up to the Enclave Leather ($44,200), and you add several more items. As expected, leather upholstery is one of them, along with heated seats. The Enclave Leather also adds 19-inch wheels, a blind spot monitoring system, heated front seats and a memory system for the driver's seat.
At the top end of the Enclave spectrum is the Premium ($48,100), which adds ventilated front seats, a Bose sound system, a navigation system, a power tilt steering wheel and dynamic headlights.
Options on all Enclave models include a rear-seat DVD player, a power sunroof, and the new forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems. Drivers can also choose between an 8-passenger model and a 7-passenger version at no charge.
Occupant protection comes from seven airbags, including 3-row head curtains and GM's OnStar telematics system. The new front-center-side airbag, an industry first, protects the driver and passenger from bumping into each other in a side impact. The Enclave is also equipped with anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control. A blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic warning also contribute to improving safety, as do newly optional forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems.
In government crash testing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Enclave a rating of five overall stars, including four stars in frontal and rollover tests along with five stars in the group's side-impact assessment. In tests conducted by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Enclave earned Good marks in each of the agency's four major tests: moderate-overlap front, roof strength, head restraints and seats, and side impact.
Behind the Wheel
The 2015 Buick Enclave, like its GM large-crossover brethren, delivers a relaxed, car-like ride. Above everything else, it's comfortable, and thanks to Buick's efforts, this ride is free of most wind, road and tire noise.
The Enclave's crossover architecture exhibits more precision and agility than a similarly sized SUV. Its overall dynamics feel secure and confident. The Enclave is still a large and heavy vehicle, however, and it must be managed like one. Its size can become an issue on small city streets or in crowded parking lots. This crossover's poor rear visibility makes these driving venues even more challenging, but the standard backup camera helps.
The Enclave lacks the truck-like edge necessary for trail riding or mud running, but available all-wheel drive helps it deal with the harsh, on-road conditions that Mother Nature can bring.
The Enclave has good off-the-line acceleration but could occasionally use some extra hp. When it's loaded down with passengers and cargo or pulling a trailer, the V6 can seem labored.
Other Cars to Consider
Acura MDX -- The MDX offers more convenience and technology features but less overall space for passengers and cargo. The MDX's all-wheel-drive system is more sophisticated than the Enclave's.
GMC Acadia -- If you like the Enclave, we suspect that you'll also like the Acadia, which is GMC's version of the 3-row Buick. It boasts similar equipment but different styling, and it may offer more attractive pricing.
Jeep Grand Cherokee -- If you don't need 3-row seating, consider the Grand Cherokee, which offers similar upscale appointments to the Enclave. If you do want three rows, there's always the Dodge Durango, which offers many of the Grand Cherokee's benefits in a 3-row body style.
We think the best 2015 Enclave is the entry-level Convenience model. It offers just the right amount of features, while the top two trims (Leather and Premium) bring some over-the-top amenities that needlessly push up the price. Do opt for the stand-alone navigation and rear DVD systems, which are absolutely worth the extra price. Cold-climate buyers should definitely choose all-wheel drive.