The 2023 Enclave is Buick’s entry into the ultra-competitive mid-size luxury SUV game, and it comes up short. Its handsome styling and value-oriented packaging notwithstanding, the Enclave simply doesn’t measure up to luxury-branded rivals, many of which cost only a few thousand dollars more.
Viewed through the lens of premium rather than outright luxury, the Enclave finds its footing among a set of rivals that straddle the same line, including the Acura MDX and the Infiniti QX60 as well as high-end versions of the Kia Telluride and the Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
All models come with a smooth 3.6-liter V-6, and Buick has taken extra steps to create a hushed cabin that’s relaxing on long road trips.
The generous list of standard features also helps the Enclave make a case for itself, but buyers who are cross-shopping similarly sized SUVs from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will find the Enclave’s presentation lacks the polish that makes those European offerings more desirable.
The Enclave’s Sport Touring package—available only on the entry-level Essence trim—swaps its polished 20-inch wheels for gloss-black painted ones for 2023. The only other change to the Enclave is a new exterior color: Moonstone Gray Metallic.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Enclave’s cabin is as roomy inside as you’d expect from a vehicle this size, and Buick has integrated many comfort and convenience features. Altogether, the interior’s design is handsome and practical, but material quality and attention to detail are what hold the Enclave back from being competitive with its luxury-branded rivals.
The wood trim looks and feels chintzy, the sunshades for the optional panoramic roof aren’t power operated, and only the passenger-side second-row seat slides forward to allow third-row passengers in and out—a clear cost-cutting move that compromises convenience.
If cargo space is your main concern, the Enclave is the best choice in this segment, as it offers the most cubic feet of storage space in each of its configurations. In our testing, it swallowed a whopping 38 carry-on boxes with all of its seats down and provided space for an impressive five carry-ons behind its power-operated third row of seats.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the hood of every Enclave is a 3.6-liter V-6 making 310 horsepower. It powers either the front or all four wheels via an unobtrusive nine-speed automatic transmission. At our test track, our loaded Avenir test vehicle made it to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.
It’s not the quickest crossover, but the Enclave is fast enough that there’s never any cause for anxiety when merging onto the highway, and the engine goes about its business while leaving the passenger cabin undisturbed. A well-damped suspension helps the three-row SUV hide its mass, but it never feels as athletic as, say, the Audi Q7.
Instead, the Enclave trades on comfort with a luxurious ride that glides over pockmarked asphalt and barely registers harsh impacts. The steering provides an appropriate amount of feedback for a crossover, with crisp responses and moderate effort. For those who need towing capacity, the Buick can tow up to 5000 pounds when properly equipped.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Nestled into the dash between two asymmetrical air vents is the Enclave’s standard 8.0-inch IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system. The interface is user-friendly and rendered in a lovely arrangement with crisp graphics and an abundance of features. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, and users can connect their devices to the internet via an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. Navigation with real-time traffic and weather updates is optional, as is a wireless charging pad for smartphones. All three rows of seats have two USB ports for charging devices, too.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
It’s unfair to expect economy-car efficiency from a hulking three-row such as the Enclave, but rivals such as the Volvo XC90 simply outshine the Buick in our testing. While the EPA’s ratings have these people haulers in a close heat with each other, the XC90 significantly exceeded its EPA highway estimate. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, the all-wheel-drive Enclave Avenir delivered exactly as promised: 25 mpg. Not bad, but not on the others’ level. For more information about the Enclave’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
A host of standard driver-assistance technologies are offered on even the base Preferred model, but buyers wanting to upgrade to features such as adaptive cruise control will need to go for a higher trim or purchase an option package. For more information about the Enclave’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
Standard lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning
Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Buick offers the most powertrain-warranty coverage among its key rivals and even sweetens the deal with a free maintenance visit within the first year of ownership. The XC90’s powertrain warranty isn’t as long as the Buick’s, but the Volvo offers longer complimentary maintenance and more years of corrosion protection.
Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain warranty covers six years or 70,000 miles
Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit