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2019 Buick Enclave: New Car Review

Among luxury crossovers that approach or surpass the $50,000 mark, the 2019 Buick Enclave is going to seem a bit downmarket. Even its fanciest Avenir trim lacks the overall quality and suitably premium vibe of a Mercedes, a Lexus or even an Acura. Yet, the Enclave has a giant advantage over all of them. Literally. It’s a giant crossover, boasting room in all three rows for full-size adults and cargo capacity bested only by minivans and the most colossal of SUVs. Simply put, if you need a ton of room, the Enclave will deliver more of it than just about any crossover, luxury or otherwise.

It also boasts a ton of standard equipment for the money, and to be fair, compared to those "otherwise" mainstream models, the Enclave does give off a more premium vibe, especially in terms of its styling. It’s definitely more handsome than utilitarian choices like the Honda Pilot or the Subaru Ascent, despite the fact it also betters their interior space.

Of course, that size does mean the Enclave can be a bit of a chore to maneuver in tight spots, but out on the open road, it’s comfortable, secure and whisper quiet. It’s also a much sharper steer than the previous-generation Enclave. So there’s definitely a lot to like about this large 3-row family crossover that toes the line nicely between mainstream and luxury segments.

What’s New for 2019?

The Enclave was completely redesigned last year, so it effectively goes unchanged for 2019.

What We Like

Enormous interior bigger than any 3-row luxury model; abundant standard equipment; user-friendly controls; whisper-quiet cabin

What We Don’t

Big size means it can be cumbersome to maneuver; unremarkable interior quality for a luxury model; finicky electronic shifter

How Much?

$40,000-$55,800

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Enclave has a 3.6-liter V6 engine good for 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission and either standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. Note that the two upper trims have an upgraded AWD system that can proportion power between the left and right rear wheels (known as torque vectoring)

Fuel economy is estimated to be 18 miles per gallon in city driving, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined with FWD. It’s 1 mpg lower with AWD.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Enclave is available in four trim levels: Preferred, Essence, Premium and Avenir.

The Preferred trim ($40,000) is FWD only and comes standard with 18-in wheels, automatic LED headlights, a hands-free power lift gate, a backup camera, rear parking sensors, proximity entry and push-button start, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats (8-way driver, 6-way passenger), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, second-row captain’s chairs, active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, OnStar emergency communications, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, six USB ports, an 8-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio and a 6-speaker sound system.

The Essence trim ($42,000) adds blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, leather upholstery and an ionizing air cleaner.

The Premium trim ($48,100) adds forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, GM’s Safety Alert seat, front parking sensors, automatic highbeams, power-folding mirrors (driver-side auto-dimming), driver memory settings, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a power-folding third-row seat, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, HD Radio and a 10-speaker Bose sound system. A sunroof is optional, and both the Essence and the Premium are available with integrated navigation.

The Avenir trim ($53,500) is the most luxurious Enclave, boasting elevated interior materials, fancier exterior styling and unique color choices. It also adds 20-in wheels and a dual-panel sunroof (both available on the Premium), along with an upgraded instrument cluster, wireless smartphone charging, GM’s rearview mirror camera, a surround-view parking camera and navigation.

The Avenir’s Premium Suspension package adds adaptive suspension damping. Its Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, higher-speed automatic braking and adaptive suspension.

Safety

Every Enclave comes with seven airbags (front, front-side, front-center and side-curtain), a back-up camera, rear parking sensors and OnStar emergency communications. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning are included, starting with the Essence, while the Premium gains forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and GM’s Safety Alert seat. Only the Avenir is available with full-speed emergency braking.

The government gave the Enclave a 5-star overall crash rating, with 4-star frontal and 5-star side ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet to test it.

Behind the Wheel

If you only walk away with two points about the 2019 Buick Enclave, know that it’s enormous, and it’s very quiet. No other crossover, apart from the mechanically related Chevy Traverse, boasts more interior space. Tall adults can even fit comfortably in the third row, which is a rarity among crossovers and even full-size SUVs like the GMC Yukon. There’s also more cargo space behind that third row, allowing for more luggage when fully loaded with people. When all seats are lowered, maximum cargo space is similarly on top among crossovers.

As great as that size is when it comes to interior space, though, it does make the Enclave relatively cumbersome to drive. To be fair, its responsive steering and more controlled suspension are vastly superior to the previous-generation Enclave’s. Its massive weight loss also helps handling, while putting less of a burden on the 310-hp V6 engine that ultimately provides ample thrust. Still, if you have a small garage or frequent tight parking lots, you may want to think twice.

But if you prefer your driving experience to be comfortable and whisper quiet, the Enclave definitely won’t disappoint. Few things on the road at this price range provide a more serene in-car experience. Ample sound deadening, acoustic glass and active noise cancelation see to that. Its interior quality disappoints compared to luxury-branded rivals (and no, the Avenir’s shinier bits and fancily scripted logos don’t change that), but then it also costs considerably less when you consider its size advantage and colossal features list.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Volkswagen Atlas — If the Enclave’s size appeals, then the Atlas is the next-closest thing. Its solid, big-vehicle feel behind the wheel is also similar, as is its premium vibe in upper trims.

2019 Chevrolet Traverse — If you appreciate the Enclave’s size and basic feature content, look to the Traverse. Basically, it’s a mechanically similar vehicle, but with lower-quality interior trappings.

2019 Mazda CX-9 — Although not considered a luxury crossover, top CX-9 trim levels do a very convincing impression. It manages to balance a sporty driving experience with upscale comfort, 3-row seating and excellent fuel economy. Just don’t expect comparable size.

Used Audi Q7 — The Q7 has much less space than the Enclave. It’s also much pricier, so we’d be talking about a used or certified pre-owned Q7 here. Nevertheless, the stylish Q7 is a solid, truly luxurious 3-row SUV. If you can swing the most recent model introduced for 2017, you’ll get one of the most technologically advanced SUVs around.

Autotrader’s Advice

There’s so much standard equipment in the base Preferred trim level that we’d be tempted to keep things simple, but the Essence’s leather upholstery and blind spot warning system are worthy upgrades for a reasonable price. Otherwise, the top two trims are priced deep into luxury territory, and they really only compare well if you truly value the Enclave’s superior interior space.

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