Test Drive: 2020 Buick Enclave SUV
Base price: $41,195
Price as tested: $49,780
This week, we’re reviewing the 2020 Buick Enclave, arriving in Essence AWD decor. Front drive Enclave starts at $41,195 for Preferred, then moves upward 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 that 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 design thanks to its lower roofline 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 delivers 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 experience.
Built in Lansing, Michigan, Enclave debuted back in 2008 and was popular from day one. Replacing three Buicks (Terraza, Rendezvous and Rainer) at the same time, Enclave has been Buick’s flagship model and its new generation now competes money wise with upper-scale SUVs from Infiniti, Lincoln, Acura, Volvo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
Our test Enclave came standard with a bevy of features with seven-passenger seating thanks to a Captain Chair second row seating arrangement. These second row “smart slide” seats easily move forward and then tilt 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 six-speaker stereo.
Our tester had just 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 white frost 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 all-weather protection.
Enclave’s interior is quiet and spacious, so much so that it delivers not only taking kids to the ballgame, you can also load up at the home improvement center if needed. Of course, we look at Enclave more of the family type mover than a lumber transporter, but rest assured, and depending on how you want to arrange your seating, there is room for most every application.
Driving manners are good and the ride is ultra comfortable. What really surprises 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.
Additionally, those who need to tow a small boat can safely complete the task up to 1,500 pounds. If you want to tow more weight, a trailer package is available that moves tow capacity up to 5,000 lbs.
Traverse weighs in at 2.5 tons with AWD underpinnings, while the FWD model is about 205 pounds lighter. Clearly, Enclave’s overall body mass is a positive when it comes to ride comfort and the ever important safety aspects if impacts occur. (Heavier is usually safer).
Safety items include rear cross traffic, rear park assist, high-definition rear camera, electronic stability, 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 and other safety alerts when you visit.
More so on safety, Buick Enclave scored 5-Star overall ratings in government crash testing thanks to its rollover sensor seven-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 ABS wheel disc brakes, which add to the vehicle’s security factors.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 120.9-inches (up from 118.9), curb weight of 4,568 pounds, 39-ft. 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 dealer incentives going on, including both lease and purchase. If you can find a leftover 2019, all the better as for discounts. Either way, you’ll be well pleased with your new Buick Enclave as it’s a great crossover/SUV worthy of a test drive.
Likes: Overall design, interior, safety ratings, Buick opulence.
Dislikes: High-tech safety unavailable on entry models, not much else.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.