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2018 Buick Enclave: Summer Family Hauler

By Steve Wheeler, July 7th, 2018

With a richly styled cabin and exquisite exterior, the 2018 Buick Enclave is a quiet and capable family hauler. So, pack up the kids and the beach toys in this three-row SUV and hit the road this summer.

Manufacturer photo: The 2018 Buick Enclave's new design architecture enables a balanced, athletic appearance
Manufacturer photo: The 2018 Buick Enclave's new design architecture enables a balanced, athletic appearance

This big, comfortable vehicle is just what families need when vacation time comes. The Enclave's exterior is completely redesigned for 2018. The front end has a sleeker look and the body is more athletically proportioned.

The Enclave will pamper its occupants, but if you really want to be spoiled, opt for the Avenir version, which is the most luxurious and technologically advanced Enclave to date.

On my test-drive, I had to "settle" for the Premium trim with AWD during my week with the Enclave. Other trims include the base Enclave starting at $40,970, and the next step up, Essence.

This Buick is powered by 3.6-liter V-6 engine that delivers 310 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a quick-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but AWD is available.

Manufacturer photo: The 2018 Buick Enclave's new design architecture enables a balanced, athletic appearance

Fuel economy with front drive is 18 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Subtract one mpg if you choose AWD.

Buick says the new Enclave has a total of 17 radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors to help the driver. One of those camera systems operates in the rearview mirror, allowing it to be used normally or as a camera when the driver's view is blocked because the cabin is piled high with luggage or beach toys. Using the camera in the rearview provides a much wider field of vision as well.

The Enclave also adopts a surround-view camera that provides an overhead 360-degree view of the vehicle. It may seem like magic, but it works with four cameras: one in front, one in each side mirror, and one in the back. Our Premium trim test Enclave had optional 20-inch aluminum wheels, a dual moonroof, a navigation package, and a heavy-duty cooling system.

The Enclave's big draw is its roomy and comfortable cabin. Front-seat headroom is 41 inches, headroom in row two is 39.9 inches, and even back in row three it's 37.6 inches, which was good enough for my 6-foot-1-inch frame.

Legroom is row two is 38.9 inches, but in row three it's just 33.5 inches. The second-row seats can slide forward, however, giving third-row occupants more room. The power dual moonroof slides back past row two, meaning occupants in back get more daylight. The third-row seats, by the way, can be folded down via a power switch in the cargo area.

Manufacturer photo: The 2018 Buick Enclave's new design architecture enables a balanced, athletic appearance

Speaking of cargo, look for 23.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row. Fold that third row down and you'll have 58 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold down everything behind the front row and you can haul 97.6 cubic feet worth of stuff in the Enclave. There's also a nice wet storage area below the cargo deck in back.

The Enclave cabin is quiet and relaxing, even at Interstate speeds. The V-6 provided plenty of power, delivering it smoothly through the nine-speed automatic transmission.

There are soft-touch materials in all the right places, and thankfully, not as much chrome inside the cabin. Road noise is filtered out through Buick's QuietTuning system, and a cabin ionizer helps clean cabin air. Keyless entry and push-button start are standard, and the Buick shield puddle lights help light the way up to the car in the dark. Tri-zone automatic air and a universal home remote are also standard.

There are six -- count 'em six -- USB ports so everyone can power up their devices. Row two has its own AC control as well as heated seats in our Premium test car.

When it comes to safety, the Enclave has yet to be tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But the vehicle has a rearview camera, rear park assist, and seven airbags as standard equipment. A range of optional safety technologies help the driver avoid crashes. Available safety technologies include forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, a following distance indicator, front park assist, and a safety alert seat that vibrates to alert the driver to various monitored situations.

Manufacturer photo: The 2018 Buick Enclave's new design architecture enables a balanced, athletic appearance

Specifications

Base price $50,315 (as tested: $57,055)
Curb weight 4,685 lbs.
Displacement 3.6-liter
Engine type 24-valve DOHC V-6 w/DI
Epa mileage rating 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 21.7 gal.
Horsepower (net) 310 at 6800 rpm
Overall length 204.3 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 266 at 2800 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Vehicle type 7-passenger AWD CUV
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