Base price: $41,195
Price as tested: $49,780
This week, we’re driving Buick’s new generation 2020 Enclave, delivered in Essence AWD trim. Front drive Enclaves start at $41,195 for Preferred, then move up to Essence at $43,195; Premium at $49,995 and top line Avenir at $54,995. The AWD versions (not available on the Preferred) add $2,000 more to the base price.
Now competing with upscale full-size SUVs, this new generation debuted in 2018 and is now the longest wheelbase vehicle of the Buick family. It shares some similarities with Chevrolet Traverse, but overrides the bowtie model in side-by-side luxury comparisons.
Although the latest model still shares some of the genes of the previous Enclave, its longer wheelbase (by 2 inches) and redesigned exterior deliver a more aerodynamic motif thanks to a lower roofline and improved front fascia and three-dimensional grille.
Powered by the trusty GM 3.6-liter V6 with 310-horsepower and 266 lb. ft. of torque, Buick now mates this proven engine to a new 9-speed automatic in either front drive or Intelligent AWD. The AWD features a twin-clutch rear differential that allows better torque distribution and driver selectable AWD or front-drive only modes.
Enclave helps leverage General Motors’ crossover/SUV architecture thanks to a unique blend of historic “first-ever GM brand” Buick build experiences and satisfied consumer reviews. Included along the way are the many 1950s Roadmaster convertibles and 1960s Invicta Wagons to today’s finely crafted sub-compact Encore and compact Envision siblings.
Built in Lansing, Michigan, Enclave debuted in 2008 and was popular from day one. Replacing three Buicks at one time, including Terraza, Rendezvous and Rainer, the Enclave is Buick’s flagship model and its new generation competes money wise with upper-scale SUVs from Infiniti, Lincoln, Acura, Volvo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. (Not sure this is a good idea as Cadillac currently handles this marketing chore).
Our test Enclave came standard with a bevy of features with seven-passenger seating thanks to row two captain chair bucket seats and a bench 60/40 third row. The second row’s “smart slide” seats easily move forward and then tilt nicely to allow easy third row access. All three seating areas are zoned for heating or cooling, while modern standard fare tech appointments include Bluetooth, SiriusXM Satellite, remote start, 4G Wi-Fi, 8-inch diagonal high-resolution color touch-screen, Apple/Android compatibility and a great sounding 6-speaker stereo.
Enclave’s interior is quiet and spacious, so much so you can take all the kids to the ballgame and then load up some lumber at the area home improvement center. Depending on how you want to arrange your seating, there is room for most every application. Additionally, those who need to tow a small boat can safely complete the task up to 1,500 pounds. If you want to tow a bigger boat or a classic ’60 Electra 225, a trailer package is available that ups tow capacity to 5,000 pounds.
Driving manners are good and the ride is ultra comfortable. Surprising is the power available from the 3.6-liter V6. When the accelerator is fully matted in a 40 to 65 mph test on a New York interstate, the Enclave feels more like a V8 than a V6. The better performance is a result of Buick’s utilization of the 9-speed automatic that is standard across the line and replaces the previous generation 6-speed. Because of the extra gear ratios, expect better acceleration and more acceptable fuel economy. A start/stop feature to help save fuel when the Enclave is not in motion is standard.
Enclave weighs in at near 2.5 tons with a passenger or two and AWD underpinnings, while the FWD model isn’t much lighter (about 250 pounds). Clearly, Enclave’s overall body mass is a positive when it comes to ride comfort and the ever important safety aspects if an impact occurs. (Heavier is usually safer).
Safety items include all the modern conveniences, including rear cross traffic, rear park assist, high-definition rear camera, electronic stability control, lane change alert and much more. These are all standard across the board and your Buick dealer will explain optional safety items like emergency front braking, smart cruise and other high end safety alerts when you visit. (Unfortunately, not available on Preferred and Essence trims).
More so on safety, Buick Enclave scored 5-Star overall ratings in government crash testing thanks to its rollover sensor 7-airbag system that encompasses the entire vehicle, front, side and head curtain for all three rows. Significant is GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and four wheel ABS disc brakes that add to the vehicle’s security factors.
Our tester featured four options, one a $1,695 Sport Touring Package that adds 20-inch bright machine faced wheels on Continental tires, unique sport grille and sport touring liftgate badges. A dual pane sunroof for an additional $1,400 adds to the interior ambience, while special glow coat paint adds $1,495. A nice $395 mat package protects everything from the front seats to the rear cargo area and is worth every penny as the three rows of seating features spill proof, all-weather protection. Destination of $1,195 brought the final retail to $49,780.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 120.9-inches (up from 118.9), curb weight of 4,568 pounds, 39-foot turn radius, from 23.6 to 97.6 cu. ft. of cargo space, 7.7-inch ground clearance, 22-gallon fuel tank and 17 city and 25 highway the EPA estimates.
In summary, there are some outstanding discounts of up to 13% going on right now on leftover ’19 Enclaves. Considering both the 2019 and 2020 Enclaves are new generation models, it may be a wise decision to test drive an Enclave sitting on your dealer’s lot and pocket the difference between a leftover and a 2020.
Either way, you’ll be well pleased with your new Buick Enclave as it’s a great crossover/SUV worthy of your interest and my praise.
Likes: New looks, interior, roomy, safety ratings, Buick legend.
Dislikes: High-tech safety unavailable on some models, competing against high-end luxury brands is daunting.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2020 Buick Enclave SUV
Base price: $41,195