Driving as many automobiles as I do every year, there are some things that will make even the most curmudgeonly of us crack a smile. One is the description given by Buick of the colour of the latest full-size SUV/crossover we drove, the 2018 Buick Enclave Premium AWD.
The specifications state “Ebony Twilight Metallic”. That is auto OEM-speak for black! To be sure, however, the smiles continued in my time behind the wheel of the benevolent large-size SUV. And no, not in an ironic manner.
There is much to like and yes, even appreciate in this latest, redesigned for this model year Enclave. Simply, the 2018 Buick Enclave is better-looking, lighter, more fuel efficient, and provides more passenger and cargo space than the previous model.
This is the second generation of the 10-year-old Enclave. It’s built on the same platform as the less expensive second-generation Chevrolet Traverse (reviewed here) that was released earlier in 2017 and it shares its new 3.6-litre 302-horsepower engine and new nine-speed transmission. The leather is a little thicker and the ride is quieter. Much quieter. This benefit, alone, will make any driver and their passengers enjoy their time in this well-appointed cabin—regardless of where they are sitting. And yes, they will be smiling and not reaching for throat lozenges due to yelling conversation at one another on a long drive. Casual discourse may be had and understood—even at highway speeds! The noise level in the cabin has been drastically reduced, to say the least. Buick’s engineers have put in considerable hours to achieve this pleasing ambience. For consumers cross-shopping the seven-passenger crossover category, including but not necessarily limited to the Lincoln MKT, Audi Q7, Acura MDX, and Infiniti’s QX60, this general cabin environment may be one of the features which can sway a decision in a crowded marketplace.
Further, the V6 engine and new nine-speed transmission help contribute to the overall feeling of, dare we say, relaxation. The engine is powerful without being apprehensive and there’s no annoying hunting among the gears for the best ratio. It all happens in an unobtrusive manner.
GM’s designers have worked hard on the appearance of this large crossover—inside and out. While looking better, a little more understated elegance than the 2017 model, the new Enclave has also lost some of its curb weight—a little more than 360 pounds! While bulk has been reduced, available cargo and passenger space, especially in the second and third rows, has actually increased.
Buick Canada anticipates that the Premium-trim Enclave will be their volume seller. Given the technology and innovation built into this SUV that should come as no surprise. With side blind-zone and rear-traffic alert, there is also low-speed front automatic braking, front pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist with haptic (a kinesthetic communication which recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user) feedback—or as you may refer to it, “that-annoying-vibrating-seat” when sensors detect a potential safety issue within range of the many sensors on board. Other features include high-beam assist, and a following-distance indicator. The full-display mirror with the rear-view camera is an option on this trim—a very handy tool if you tend to tow a trailer with sleds or a boat for enhanced rear vision at-a-glance. You may expect a Bose audio system—not top-of-the-line, but note that with the drastic reduction in cabin noise, it seems to perform above its pay grade! With driver seat memory, and radio memory functions, power-folding third-row seats, heated and cooled front-row seats, power adjustable steering column, and a heated steering wheel as well as an 110 V outlet in the middle row this full-size auto is here to perform—and play.
Finally, Buick refers to its brand as “attainable luxury”. With an as-tested price for the Premium AWD model, including destination charge, of $62,210, an argument may be made to support that claim—especially when compared to other premium, similar-sized, seven-passenger, three-row crossovers available in the market today.
2018 Buick Enclave Premium AWD
Body Style: Five-door, seven-passenger full-size crossover (CUV).
Engine: 3.6-litre DOHC direct injection V6 engine with nine-speed automatic
transmission and AWD (302 horsepower, 260 lb.-ft. torque).
Fuel Economy (stated): AWD, 13.8/9.4/11.8 L/100 km – city/highway/combined.
Actual after 460 kilometres (combined) 10.1 L/100 km.
Cargo Capacity: 668 litres behind the third row of seats: 2,763 litres when
the second and third rows are folded. Interesting to note that there is
also 62 litres of underfloor storage, too.
Tow Rating: 2,268 kg (5,000 lb).
Pricing: Premier AWD, $55,895. As tested with options, $62,210.00*.
*Includes destination charge. PDI, HST and other taxes extra.
David Taylor is an independent automotive lifestyle writer, producer, and editor based in Barrie, Ontario who is fascinated by innovation and technology which enhance the overall driving experience. He’s also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and a Director of the Canadian Car of the Year. Follow him on Twitter @Omemeeozzie or on Instagram @hugoscaroftheweek.