The big and stylish 2012 Buick Enclave is one of the larger midsize crossover SUVs, about as long and wide as the truck-based, full-size GMC Yukon, but not as tall. It’s also easier to step into and has a roomier third-row seat. With lightweight unitized body construction, a fully independent suspension and a transverse-mounted engine, the Enclave offers carlike ride and handling. Plus, with the all-aluminum V6 dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission, it boasts better fuel economy than the truck-based Yukon. The Enclave is available in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. A unique slide-and-fold second-row seat that stacks flat against the back of the front seats provides easy access to the third-row bench. There’s 23.2 cu ft. of cargo space (more than in the trunk of any full-size sedan) behind the third-row seat and a minivanlike 115.3 cu ft. of space with the second- and third-row seats folded flat.
Buick outfitted the 2012 Enclave stylishly with a waterfall grille, hood-mounted ventiports, high-intensity discharge head lamps and a choice of 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels. The richly appointed interior is library-quiet, with liberal use of soft-touch materials and wood-grain accents. Standard safety gear includes stability and traction control, an anti-lock braking system, dual-front airbags, front-seat side airbags and overhead airbags. New for 2012 models is a hill-hold feature that keeps the SUV from rolling back when the driver releases the brake on a hill and a brake override system that cuts engine power if both the brake and accelerator pedals are applied.
If you need room for up to eight passengers and their duffels, but a minivan isn’t the image you want and a full-size truck-based SUV doesn’t offer the ride, parking ease or fuel economy you need, then the Enclave is a good choice. See the 2012 Buick Enclave models for sale near you
What We Like
Hill-hold feature; good interior fit and finish; smooth ride; quiet cabin; communicative steering; top safety ratings; solid structure; sliding and folding second-row seats
What We Don’t
Lackluster gas mileage; poor rearward visibility; high step-in height; large turning radius; low seat-cushion height in second and third rows
The 2012 Buick Enclave is powered by a 3.6-liter DOHC V6 with a direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder. It’s rated at 288 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque and uses regular unleaded fuel. A 6-speed automatic transmission with a sequential sport shifter is standard, and both front- and all-wheel drive are available. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates front-wheel-drive versions at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive models return 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy. Maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds.
Standard Features & Options
The 2012 Enclave comes in base, Convenience, Leather and Premium trims.
Typical Base (1SB) Enclave equipment includes a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, deep-tint glass, front dual-zone and rear-automatic climate control, 7-passenger seating with cloth seats, second-row sliding fold-down captain’s chairs, a fold-flat third-row bench, power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, a tilt-telescopic leather-wrapped wood-trimmed steering wheel with remote audio controls, remote keyless entry, the OnStar communication system, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with SiriusXM radio, a HomeLink garage-door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto head lamps, cruise control, a power lift gate, a compass, a trip computer, an outside-temperature display, 19-in alloy wheels, fog lamps, a rear wiper/washer and power door locks, windows and heated mirrors.
The Convenience (1SD) trim adds an LCD infotainment display, remote start, rear-park assist and a backup camera.
The Leather (1SL) trim brings leather upholstery, heated front seats and driver’s-seat memory and a power front passenger’s seat.
The Premium (1SN) trim gains a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system, cooled front seats, articulating head lamps, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel with memory and an auto-tilt-away feature, power-folding outside mirrors and 19-in chrome wheels.
Available options include 20-in alloy wheels, a trailering package, touchscreen navigation, a power moonroof, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with headphones, a cargo net and cargo shade package, a 110-volt inverter and a second-row sliding and split-folding bench seat.
Buick’s Enclave provides nearly as much people and cargo space as a minivan, minus the sliding side doors and the soccer-mom stigma. Clean, used family vehicles like the Enclave are in steady demand, especially low-mileage examples with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel-drive models generally cost less, and because the Enclave has standard traction control and the majority of its weight is over the front driving wheels, that’s all most buyers need.
For a good idea of the prices of used 2012 Enclave crossovers, check out the used-car values at Kelley Blue Book. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2012 Buick Enclave:
Snow or ice buildup on the windshield or wipers may reduce wiper movement and cause the wiper arm pivot nuts to loosen, rendering the wipers ineffective.
The gas struts supporting the power lift gate may fail prematurely, and the lift gate may close unexpectedly, creating an injury risk.
The steel cable for the front seat belts may fail, increasing the injury risk for front-seat occupants.
Due to electrical resistance in the wiring harness connectors, the front-seat side-impact airbags and seat-belt pretensioners may not deploy in a crash.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
The NHTSA gave the 2012 Enclave a 5-star rating overall, with four for frontal impacts and rollover performance and five for side impacts.
The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2012 Enclave Good for moderate-overlap front impact, side impact and head-restraint and seat crash performance. It also named the Enclave a Top Safety Pick among large SUVs.
General Motors covered the 2012 Enclave with a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 6-year/unlimited-distance corrosion-perforation warranty.
Buick certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles can’t have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be 5 years old or fewer. Every CPO Enclave undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus 6-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage with 24-hour roadside assistance and free courtesy transportation from the car’s original sale date. There’s no deductible, and the CPO warranty is transferable. Also included are 3 months of OnStar and SiriusXM radio, a Carfax vehicle history report and a maintenance plan providing two visits over 24 months.
Other Cars to Consider
2012 Acura MDX — Acura’s largest crossover SUV is nearly a foot shorter than the Enclave, and its third-row seat is only suitable for children, but the MDX is agile for a 7-passenger SUV, quick on its feet and more fun to drive than the Buick. Power comes from a 300-hp 3.7-liter V6 teamed with a 6-speed automatic with an available manual-shift mode. All-wheel drive is standard. The MDX can tow up to 5,000 pounds. It’s EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy.
2012 Lexus RX 350 — The top-selling RX 350 luxury crossover is smaller than the Enclave and holds only five passengers. It is known for having one of the most luxurious cabins in the class and a smooth, comfortable ride. A 275-hp 3.5-liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic provide more than ample performance. Both front- and all-wheel drive are offered. Front-wheel-drive models are EPA-rated at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy, and all-wheel-drive models get 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds. Also available is a gas-electric hybrid version dubbed the RX450h which is EPA-rated at 31 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 29 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with AWD.
The Enclave delivers near-luxury comfort with a smoother ride and better fuel efficiency than truck-based SUVs like the Yukon, while also providing interior space approaching that of a minivan. Make sure all the applicable recall repairs have been performed on the Enclave you consider. A certified pre-owned Enclave is a worry-free way to go, but if none are available, search for a lower-mileage example that’s seen obvious care and maintenance.