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2016 Buick Enclave: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2015

The 2016 Buick Enclave is a midsize to large luxury crossover that boasts exceptional practicality, high-end touches and surprisingly impressive gas mileage. And 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, it's an excellent option -- 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 GMC Acadia. In a short time, all three have built reputations as capable people movers. But while the Acadia takes on a more trucklike personality and the Traverse is a well-rounded everyday runner, the Enclave is the most upscale member of the family. It isn't quite at the caliber of a Lexus or a Mercedes, but it's not far off those marks -- especially considering the reasonable price.

What's New for 2016?

The Enclave is unchanged for 2016, save for the addition of 4G LTE Wi-Fi in conjunction with its standard OnStar system.

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

How Much?

$40,000-$48,400

Fuel Economy

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 drivers can choose from: Convenience, Leather and Premium.

The Convenience ($40,000) already features a long list of standard equipment. That includes items such as a backup camera, a power driver's seat, a power lift gate, tri-zone automatic climate control, SiriusXM radio, rear park assist, OnStar with newly standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi and a remote starter. Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, with a center-mounted touchscreen, is also standard.

Step up to the Enclave Leather ($44,600), 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, dual power front seats, rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, a blind spot monitoring system and a memory system for the driver's seat.

At the top end of the Enclave spectrum is the Premium ($48,400), which adds ventilated front seats, a Bose sound system, a navigation system, a power tilt steering wheel, dynamic headlights, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and chrome wheels.

Options include a rear-seat DVD player, a power sunroof, 20-in wheels and a towing package. Drivers can also choose between an 8-passenger model and a 7-passenger version at no charge.

Safety

Occupant protection comes from seven airbags, including 3-row side-curtain airbags, along with GM's OnStar telematics. The standard 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, stability control and a backup camera. Available blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems also contribute to improving safety, as do forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning systems.

In government crash-testing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Enclave a rating of five overall stars. That includes four stars in frontal and rollover tests, along with five stars in the group's side-impact assessment. Although the Enclave has not yet participated in all tests conducted by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it earned Good marks in several of the firm's tests.

Behind the Wheel

The 2016 Buick Enclave, like its GM large-crossover brethren, delivers a nice, relaxed and carlike 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. That said, the Enclave is still a large and heavy vehicle, and it must be managed like one. Its size can become an issue on small city streets or crowded parking lots. Furthermore, this crossover's poor rear visibility makes these driving venues even more challenging -- but at least the standard backup camera helps.

The Enclave is not really intended for trail riding or mud running. It lacks the trucklike edge for these sorts of activities. But available all-wheel drive helps the Enclave to 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

2016 Acura MDX -- The latest 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 that of the Enclave.

2016 GMC Acadia -- If you like the Enclave, we suspect 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.

2015 Infiniti QX60 -- The Nissan Pathfinder-based Infiniti QX60 is an excellent 3-row luxury crossover that offers regular or hybrid models and a long list of available equipment and features.

Used Cadillac Escalade -- If you need more space than the Enclave can offer, consider the Cadillac Escalade. It boasts more power than the Enclave, more features, more room and bolder styling -- but its high pricing may mean you'll have to consider used models.

Autotrader's Advice

Our favorite version of the 2016 Enclave is the midrange Leather model, which adds a lot of comfort features and safety equipment for a reasonable price. But go ahead and opt for the stand-alone navigation and rear DVD systems, which are absolutely worth the extra price. And cold-climate buyers should definitely choose all-wheel drive.

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Used 2016 Buick Enclave AWD Leather
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Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2016 Buick Enclave AWD Leather
Used 2016 Buick Enclave
$26,998
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Buick Enclave: New Car Review - Autotrader