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2016 Buick Enclave vs. 2016 Chevrolet Traverse: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2015

Although the 2016 Buick Enclave and the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse might look different on the outside, they're twins under the skin, sharing architecture, sizing and virtually all mechanical components. So what exactly separates the Enclave from the Traverse? And which one should you get? We're taking a closer look at both crossovers to help you understand how they're different -- and to help you figure out which one is right for you.

Exterior

Although the Buick Enclave and the Chevrolet Traverse share architecture, a platform and many mechanical components, you wouldn't necessarily know it from just looking at them, as the Enclave and the Traverse offer vastly different styling, sharing no components on the outside. Indeed, the Enclave fits into Buick's upscale styling mold, while the Traverse instead touts Chevrolet's everyman look, lacking the Buick's level of chrome but offering brighter, more mainstream color choices.

Interior

The Enclave and Traverse are just as different on the inside as they are on the outside -- which is to say that the two models share the basics but offer very different details. Air vents, controls and most other items are in the same place in both models, for instance, but the specific elements are different: In addition to boasting revised styling, the Buick touts better materials than the Chevy, along with slightly more old-fashioned interior design compared to the Traverse's swoopier, more modern look. When it comes to interior room, however, the Enclave and Traverse are identical.

Mechanicals

The Traverse and Enclave are identical under the hood. That means both models use a 3.6-liter V6 engine, which makes 288 horsepower in the Enclave and 281 hp in most Traverse models (unless you upgrade to the LTZ, which adds back the missing 7 hp) -- an imperceptible difference.

Both the Enclave and Traverse also come standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and both models offer the same fuel economy ratings of up to 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive or 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with optional all-wheel drive.

Features & Technology

Despite the Enclave's more upscale marketing, you'll be surprised to find that virtually every luxury feature offered in the high-end Buick is also available in the Traverse. Lane-departure warning, heated and ventilated front seats, a 10-speaker Bose sound system and even a panoramic sunroof -- all impressive luxuries befitting a high-end SUV -- are shared between the Traverse and the Enclave, provided you opt for well-equipped versions of both models. In fact, we can't find one major feature the Enclave has that the Traverse doesn't, or vice versa.

Driving Experience

The Enclave and the Traverse are also surprisingly similar on the road. While the 3-row Buick might offer slightly better ride comfort over bumps than the Traverse -- and a slightly quieter interior thanks to additional sound insulation -- we think the differences are largely imperceptible in normal driving. What is perceptible is that both models offer roughly the same acceleration, the same fairly smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, the same good visibility and the same dimensions. That's generally a good thing, since we enjoy driving both the Traverse and the Enclave -- but we don't see major differences separating the two SUVs.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Enclave and the Traverse earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. Neither model has been fully tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though early results are strong -- and identical.

As for safety features, the Enclave and Traverse are identical here, as well: Both come standard with side-curtain airbags, OnStar, anti-lock disc brakes and a backup camera, while both offer a few modern safety options such as rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system, forward-collision alert and a unique-to-General Motors center side airbag, designed to protect occupants from a collision on the opposite side of the vehicle.

Conclusions

Despite all the marketing, the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse and the 2016 Buick Enclave are surprisingly similar -- assuming that you go for a high-end version of the Traverse in order to properly compare it to the Buick. The problem is that a well-equipped Traverse can easily cost in excess of $40,000 -- and for that money, many shoppers prefer a high-end brand name, which is where the Buick finds its success.

Whatever your preference, you'll be happy to know that we recommend both the Traverse and the Enclave -- though we prefer the Chevy for shoppers on a budget and the Enclave for drivers interested in a more premium experience. After all, the Buick offers higher-end exterior styling than the Traverse, along with nicer interior touches and a more upscale brand name, without a huge price premium over similarly equipped trim levels.

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Used 2016 Buick Enclave AWD Leather
Used 2016 Buick Enclave
$25,986
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
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 vs. 2016 Chevrolet Traverse: What's the Difference? - Autotrader