Buick’s three-row crossover helped return the brand to relevance when it first launched in 2008, and although the 2016 Buick Enclave has slowed in sales momentum due to time and competition, it still offers quite a few customer advantages for premium-oriented purchasers. It’s also worth noting that while the competition has improved, the actual number of Enclave rivals has not increased. There’s just a handful of three-row crossovers that can compete with the size, sophistication and car-like road manners of the big Buick, and they’re all more expensive than the Enclave. And, despite the current-generation vehicle being due for a redesign during the next calendar year, it already furnishes a key connectivity feature not found in competitive offerings.
Let’s look at some numbers, starting with the sticker price of the 2016 Buick Enclave. That would be $39,065, which is significantly less than any other vehicle in the class. For example, the 2016 Lincoln MKT has an MSRP of $43,370, and the Infiniti QX60 opens at $42,600—though it’s a noticeably smaller vehicle. Now, if you’re wondering why we included the QX60 given its size, it's because the Infiniti product shows just how limited your choices in the class truly are: It’s the next-biggest three-row entry despite its dimensional drawbacks. The Acura MDX ($43,015) is yet smaller that the QX60, and similar-sized German SUVs are priced into a different segment that starts well north of $50K.
The Tri-shield brand makes it easy on customers by serving up three well-equipped models for the 2016 Buick Enclave. The first version, in the “Convenience” trim, is true to its name, with a standard mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment technology catering to connected customers, and a standard eight-way power-adjustable driver’s maximizing pilot comfort.
More comfortable yet is the “Leather” edition, since it adds heating to both the seats and the steering wheel, then boosts safety with a standard side blind-zone alert system with rear cross-traffic alert. Buick saves perhaps it best luxury cues for the “Premium” model. Here, the front seats are heated and cooled, the sound system gets backed by Bose technology, and levels of safety tech jump as well.
With a 3.6-liter V6 engine as its sole engine, the 2016 Buick Enclave is backed by a healthy 288 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s enough for confident acceleration and cruising, of course, but it also meets crossover customers’ demand for towing power, thanks to its maximum trailer rating of 4,500 lbs.—half a ton more than the Acura or Infiniti.
Buick also antes up an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, to satisfy customer interest in low-traction capabilities. In fact, the setup is smart enough to analyze wheel speed, throttle position and surface conditions, then automatically send torque to the wheels that need it most.
Enclave EPA ratings peak at 15 mpg city/22 mpg city/18 mpg highway.
The 2016 Buick Enclave wears expressive curves that have aged nicely over time, giving the vehicle a distinctive, slippery-looking shape that emphasizes its 201.9-inch footprint. Thus, while the Enclave is a slightly smaller, more nimble package than the Lincoln MKZ, Buick owners benefit from a noticeably longer road presence than the QX60 (196.4 inches) or the MDX (193.6 inches).
The brand’s effective use of LED lighting is another bonus. Up front, Buick’s “wing-shape” LED signature lights, as well as a blue halo around the standard Xenon HID headlights, are impressive style touches, and at the rear, the taillamps are garnished with LED accents for a final detail. Articulating headlights are available for improved visibility, too.
The 2016 Buick Enclave also boasts notably efficient interior packaging: Yes, it’s smaller in length than the Lincoln MKT, but the Buick delivers more headroom for all three rows, including a particularly helpful four extra inches for third-row passengers; those occupants also get a tiny bit of extra legroom, even with the MKT’s overall length. Further, the situation is much the same when you look at cargo space.
The Enclave, for instance, can fit 23.3 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row of seating, allowing owners to enjoy a 30 percent advantage versus the Lincoln. By the time you fold down the second and third rows, the Enclave’s 115.2-cubic-foot capacity is more than 150 percent that of the MKT.
The 2016 Buick Enclave has an especially important benefit when it comes to infotainment, courtesy of GM’s OnStar team. OnStar’s mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and 4G LTE connectivity are standard in all Enclave models, complete with a three-month, three-gigabyte trial data package. That’s a great complement for the Enclave’s also-standard IntelliLink media hub, which itself comes standard supported by a 6.5-inch touchscreen and voice control. To make the most out of that system, 10 performance-enhanced Bose speakers are available for 5.1 surround-sound audio performance, too, and a rear-seat entertainment system can be ordered, complete with a rear-seat DVD player, rear audio controls and dual headphone jacks.
Per testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2016 Buick Enclave has earned a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating, which is the highest awarded by NHTSA. More specifically, the Enclave achieved 5-Star performances for frontal-crash and side-crash protection, along with a 4-Star grade for rollover protection. NHTSA also acknowledged that Buick engineers supplied two of its “recommended technologies” for Enclave owners: forward collision warning and lane-departure warning. And don't forget about the vehicle’s previously mentioned occupant-protection technologies, such as the available blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and articulating headlights—or the rearview-camera system that’s standard throughout the Enclave lineup.
Providing an additional touch of elegance and exclusivity to the 2016 Buick Enclave is a pair of distinctive special editions. The Tuscan Edition takes its name from the Tuscany region of Italy, where the classic world of Renaissance art first came to life, and its uses appropriate exterior colors and accents to influence the exterior of the Enclave. With that in mind, the Enclave Tuscan edition pairs a bronze-clad waterfall grille and 20-inch chrome wheels—highlighted by matching bronze pockets—and the customer’s choice of three premium finishes: White Frost Tricoat, Dark Chocolate Metallic or Ebony Twilight Metallic.
For 2017, but expected in dealerships this year, the new Enclave Sport Touring Edition will debut with exterior details tricked out in a Satin Ice Blue color.
The 2016 Buick Enclave is positioned by its brand as a rival to the Audi Q7 and Acura MDX, yet those vehicles just can’t match the Buick for its cabin size. Meanwhile, customers need to keep in mind that large three-row entries like the Cadillac Escalade and Lexus LX are body-on-frame SUVs, not crossovers, which can have a less sophisticated driving experience in most folks’ typical driving scenarios. This all combines to move the Enclave to the head of a very short list of full-size, premium crossovers with starting prices below $50,000.