2020 Buick Enclave Essence AWD 1SL

The Buick Enclave is a good looking and well-equipped three-row crossover with lots of room for passengers and cargo. But the sticker price can climb into luxury territory, making it less attractive as a family hauler.


The Enclave got redesigned for the 2018 model year, renamed the base trim for 2019, and receives a few minor changes for 2020 including the addition of a new Sport Touring package that’s available on the Essence trim.


Four trims are offered: Preferred, Essence, Premium and Avenir. Starting prices range from $40,000 to $56,100. The Preferred trim comes with a lot of standard tech, but you have to bump up to the higher trims for things like leather seating, all-wheel-drive and advanced driver assistance system. There’s room for seven passengers in three rows of seating, including standard captain’s chairs in the second row.


All trims are powered by the same engine: a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. There’s plenty of power for everyday driving situations. While the Enclave isn’t exactly sporty, it has peppy enough performance and excels at delivering a smooth ride. It’s fairly quick off the line and can get up to speed for merging and passing at freeway speeds. There’s only a little body lean when cornering. The ride is smooth, even on bumpy roads.


Fuel economy is about average for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with a combined rating of 20. I got 20 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. Front-wheel-drive models get slightly better mileage.


The quiet cabin has a lot of room for passengers and cargo. Head- and legroom is great in the first two rows, and even adults will be okay in the third row for short trips. But the fit and finish is not as upscale as many rivals. There are some cheap-looking materials. And one annoyance is that only the second-row captain’s chair on the right slides forward, so third row passengers must get in and out on that side.


There’s a long list of standard features including push-button start, proximity keyless entry, remote start, rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, six USB ports, Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Siri Eyes Free, and a Wi-Fi hot spot, and rear parking sensors.


Buick’s QuietTuning system keeps the cabin remarkably quiet by reducing, blocking and absorbing outside noise and vibration. Buick uses triple door seals, acoustic-laminated windshield and front side glass, and tunes the Enclave’s suspension and intake/exhaust functions. And Buick says the Enclave’s wheels are manufactured to enhance quietness and tires are chosen to minimize road noise. It works—the Enclave’s cabin is quieter than a library.


Available features include leather upholstery, eight-inch configurable driver display, ventilated front seats, massaging front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, navigation, 10-speaker Bose sound system, wireless device charging, dual-pane moonroof, power-folding third row, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, rear camera mirror, and a surround-view parking camera system,


Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, a following distance indicator, forward automatic emergency braking, full-speed automatic braking, pre-collision warning system with pedestrian detection, front parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, a safety alert seat that uses vibrations in the driver’s seat instead of beeps to alert you of a possible crash.


The infotainment system is user-friendly. The system responds briskly to voice and touch commands, and old-school buttons and knobs make it easy to adjust volume and change the radio station or audio source. Physical climate controls make it a breeze to  adjust the cabin temperature and turn heated seats on and off.


The Enclave has a lot of cargo space for a midsize SUV. There are 23.6 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seats, 58 cubic feet behind the second row, and a whopping 97.6 cubes with the second and third row folded. A hands-free liftgate is standard.


The good:

Decent power

Cushy ride

Lots of room for passenger and cargo

Quiet and comfortable cabin

User-friendly infotainment system

Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay


The not-so-good:

Not as athletic as some rivals

Cabin has some low-rent materials

Price can escalate to near luxury levels


Pricing info:

My tester starts at $44,000. The Sport Touring Edition is $1,695 and adds 20-inch wheels with bright machined faced aluminum with satin graphite painted pockets, unique sport grille with body-color surround, and sport touring liftgate badging. Dual moonroofs with power front and fixed rear are $1,400. Trailering equipment is $650 and adds a heavy-duty cooling system, trailering assist guidelines, and hitch guidance with hitch view. Quicksilver metallic paint is $495. Floor liner package is $395 and adds first and second row all-weather floor lines, third row al-weather floor liner and integrated cargo liner. Destination charge is $1,195 bringing the grand total to $49,830.


Bottom line:

The 2020 Buick Enclave has a lot going for it including a smooth ride, lots of standard tech and a roomy and comfortable cabin. But higher trims and options can push the price up to what you’d pay for a luxury vehicle. With so many nice offerings among midsize SUVs and crossovers, you’ll want to shop around before making your choice.

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