• Sunday, December 10, 2023
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Hospitable Enclave


These days, making the right choice in a market of new cars, trucks, vans and SUVs is no easy task. In some dealerships, you can find all the tools needed to make an educated automotive purchase, including photos, specifications, competitive comparisons crash test and recall data.

Today, the general understanding of a big family multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) is that which is not only long and tall, but still pretty wide and stylishly decked out with extra-large chrome wheels and accented with subtle touches like LED lighting to add a note of class.

For the Buick brand, that much-admired model is the Enclave, a name that also conveys a sense of moneyed suburban ease, and although the shape, the mechanicals, and the features have all changed, the mission remains much the same.

There is a popular saying that the taste of the pudding is in the eating. That is exactly the picture that the Enclave presents. It takes only the mindset of a car freak with lust for luxury offerings to appreciate the roomy, quiet, and comfort package it conveys.

Taking a ride in this massive-looking urban mover reminds the occupants of what seemed like a herd of crossovers where the likes of Acura MDX, the BMW X5, the Ford Flex, and the GMC Acadia rank among the more heavily represented. Any occupant wills the smooth delivery.

The Enclave, a big family bus from every metric, is ideal for typical family weekend road trip and exactly the kind of thing Buicks have historically done well. The Enclave ably brings that traditional ability into the modern age.

The sole engine offered is a 3.6-litre V-6 that puts out a respectable 288 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. It is matched with a very smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Because the Enclave is a fat boy at 4,922 pounds, the 3.6-litre does not have it easy, yet it is up to the task.

Fuel economy is an unremarkable 16/22 mpg (with all-wheel drive), but that’s about average for this class. The one mechanical change is new dampers, and with them the Enclave rides extremely well, steers and handles decently. It’s also a quiet cruiser, giving credence to all Buick’s talk about “quiet tuning”.

Compared to the Infiniti, Buick is a notably bigger MPV and almost a foot greater in wheelbase and overall length. It also just edges out Ford Flex in both dimensions and therefore, there is no surprise, then, that the Enclave has one of the more habitable third-row seats in the crossover arena.

Adults who are six feet tall and under can sit back there, provided the sliding second-row chairs are not all the way back. Even more indicative of the Enclave’s size is its cargo volume. Where so many three-row crossovers have hardly any space behind the third seat, the Enclave claims an impressive 23.3 cubic feet, which puts it at the head of the class.

Inside, you would be greeted with minor updates too. A thin arc of blue mood lighting has been integrated into the redesigned dash and door panels complemented with a new centre touch-screen that incorporates Buick’s IntelliLink connectivity package; and the finishes are upgraded. The touch-screen navigation is about mid-pack both for graphics and for ease of use; the new climate controls, however, are very good. Although the new leather dash topper and contrast stitching are nice, there is still a surprising amount of hard plastic evident on the door panels and centre console.

Also surprising is the fact that the base model does not come with leather or that the top-spec Premium edition doesn’t include navigation, but the good news is that a backup camera is newly standard on all models – good thing, since it’s pretty much essential. The all-wheel-drive Premium test car, with navigation and rear-seat entertainment, also comes with swivelling HID headlights, blind-spot warning, dual sunroofs, and heated/cooled front seat. But there are still some missing items, such as keyless ignition, a heated steering wheel, and adaptive cruise control, features one finds in newer entries like the Infiniti JX35