2018 Enclave

2018 Buick Enclave

Buick is not just a car company, nor is it just a badge; it is a symbol encompassing quality, style, and luxury. The trouble is cars can get lost amongst the baggage that comes from a badge, and the history linked to it. Buick has been around longer than most and has seen a lot of change, and the all-new 2018 Enclave is a sharp pointer to the continued change that we will see occur on the motoring landscape.

The Enclave Essence SUV is an exceptionally pretty car, full of little details but not at all derivative, as is often the norm in a class as competitive as the crossover-SUV category. With a streamlined nose running up to the swept-back A-pillars, and deep scallops accentuating the lean but purposeful guards, you'd be forgiven for missing more significant details like the floating D-pillar and its interpretation of the Hofmeister Kink. It's a subtle nod to Euro-centric style, and a not-so-subtle hint as to the aspirations the Enclave has with its competition. While looks are always subjective and open to debate, the Enclave could never be considered an ugly car by any stretch. It could be looked at all day long.

One of the problems that has come about from the inundation of crossovers and Sports Utility Vehicles is a distinct lack of sportiness. Indeed, many new models are devoid of any performance or utility, be it on the road or off it. Thankfully, Buick has seen fit to light a fire under the Enclave, so to speak, and fit it with a 310HP, 3.6L V6. It will get up and running quickly enough too, with 266lb-ft of torque turning any mountain into a molehill. Instant response is assured from the normally-aspirated motor, helping turn small gaps in traffic into big ones, ably assisted by a seamlessly smooth 9-speed automatic gearbox that ticks the necessary sport box for a car claiming to be an SUV. Front strut and multi-link rear suspension gives a ride that is firm but never unsettled, so body control is excellent and, to be totally honest, the Enclave shrinks around you like a much smaller car. The 18" wheels of the Essence provide good looks and great road-holding performance, filling the guards and offering an understated yet handsome stance as well. There is a great connection between the steering wheel and the road, so the driver is going to know exactly what is going on and that is something missed these days. It's clearly the aim of Buick to make driving dynamics a priority.

As for utility, the Enclave Essence has the option of switchable all-wheel-drive. Surefootedness and security are a guarantee with this advanced set-up, normally maintaining front-drive but the car's sensors are quick to send power to the rear when needed, and you will feel the car drag you around the corner and that sensation of traction will give you all the reassurance you need in any conditions. The Enclave also has an optional trailering package, because SUVs are meant to be practical after all, and that gives owners a whopping 5,000lb towing capacity to use at their discretion.

What about the interior? Does it have any chance to outshine the metalwork? In a word, yes. And in several, you need only look at the graceful sweep in the dashboard and the center console to see how much thought has been put into aesthetics, to make this a cabin where you want to sit, and not feel like you simply have to sit in it. All Enclaves come with the flexibility of seven seats and the comfort of captains chairs for the middle row, offering a level of comfort unmatched by rivals. Heated, power-adjustable front seats (8-way for the driver); cruise control; Auto-dimming rearview mirror; lane-change alert coupled with blind-spot warning when another car creeps up faster than you expect; rear cross traffic alert to help when reversing in conjunction with the rearview camera and rear park assist, and; the optional birds-eye view Surround Vision, are all features to help the driver spend more time enjoying what a driver should be enjoying; driving. The passengers aren't forgotten about either, with tri-zone climate control, six-speaker stereo with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, the convenience and safety of the LATCH child restraint system and a full assortment of airbags mean safety and comfort are prioritized in equal measure.

So, what does it cost to drive such an avant-garde, premium car? Given the sophisticated design in and out, and the competition in the sights of the Enclave, you might expect it to be out of the reach of most. However, with a price starting at $44,300 MSRP for the Essence, you'll be shocked Buick is able to load so much as standard into a car that looks and drives as well as it does. It's a breath of fresh air for Buick, the crossover-SUV class, and the motoring world in general.


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