Canada Markets closed

The 2018 Buick Enclave nails everything customers want from a luxury SUV

Mack Hogan
CNBC gets behind the wheel of the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir for this review of Buick's new luxury SUV.

One of the biggest myths in the automotive sphere is that Buick survived the recession solely because of its success in China, while the less fortunate Pontiac, Saab, Hummer and Saturn were shuttered.

No, that's not the story. Sure, Buick has risen to fourth place in the massively important Chinese auto market, but right here at home it's outselling Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln and even Audi.

The more you look into Buick's lineup, the more you realize that the company's still around because it's quietly pumping out vehicles that absolutely nail everything customers care about in 2017.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the driver's seat of the clean-sheet redesigned 2018 Enclave Avenir.

Exterior: Reigning in the beast

We still haven't seen a truly striking three-row, large crossover. They're all too big and chunky to ever really be gorgeous, just like the minivans to which they owe their existence. That hasn't changed with the Enclave, but cars like it and the Mazda CX-9 are moving us in the right direction.

The 2018 Enclave does a fantastic job of reigning in its heft, appearing less blocky and massive than rivals like the Acura MDX and Audi Q7.


Around back, Buick's done an especially great job of cutting fat and making the car appear sleek and modern. The same can't necessarily be said of the bow of the S.S. Enclave, but it's still a sharp looker in a segment rife with behemoths.

My tester also benefited from the Avenir treatment. Avenir, the new sub-brand from Buick, denotes a top-of-the-line model, and comes with a revised mesh grill that is much more fitting for a $59,425 luxury SUV than the standard chrome grill.


Interior: Family built, through and through

The Avenir treatment also adds more wood trimmings and opens up the option of the lovely saddle brown leather. Dark leather, brown leather, wood and metallic accents all come together to elevate the cabin into the luxury realm. If Buick had realized that they should have left the matte gray plastic in 2012, this would be in serious competition for one of the best interiors in the segment.


Whatever points I would normally take away for cheap gray plastic, I must give back for this machine's stunning practicality. With captain's chairs in the front two rows and a power-folding, three-person bench in the back, it's capable of shuttling six people and squeezing in seven.


There's also a hefty amount of storage in the back even with all seats in place, but for road trips it still likely falls short of the space needed to carry six people and their luggage. Four grown men, their luggage, an air mattress and enough suits to open a Men's Wearhouse will fit with room to spare.


I discovered this on an eight-hour trip to Philadelphia, where we managed to put two people each measuring over 6' 2" behind each other with no legroom problems.

Had we piled in more luggage, it's also comforting to know that with the flip of a switch the central rear-view mirror can become a video screen displaying a crystal-clear rear field of view that's 300-percent wider than a typical mirror.


The days of squeezing in more stuff at the expense of rearward visibility and safety are over.


Driving Experience: A long-haul master

On that same trip is when I really fell in love with the Enclave. We spent over eight hours in the big Buick, including an hour of traffic going into Center City Philadelphia. Four days later, we knocked out another eight hour stint, still loaded to the brim.

Despite my prodding, I couldn't nurse one complaint out of three other guys I had on board. Adaptive dampers kept the ride silky smooth and the monster's weight in check. Active noise cancellation made sure everyone could hear the music they were streaming from the Enclave's Wi-Fi hotspot.


From the command post, I was assisted with one of the smoothest applications of an adaptive cruise control system I've ever used. The 3.6-liter V6 was rarely heard, and the nine-speed automatic did its job seamlessly, easily the best application of a nine-speed gearbox I've sampled.

Of course, the Enclave isn't much fun to drive and it certainly isn't sporty. But in terms of absolutely devouring miles, the Enclave Avenir is a force to be reckoned with.


Value: The more you spend, the better it gets

The Enclave shares its platform with the Chevrolet Traverse. This is important, because if you just need a comfortable and capable family hauler and you're considering a base level Enclave, you're probably missing the obvious candidate.


Really, the Enclave doesn't make sense unless you opt for the upper trims. I'd recommend this Avenir trim, loaded with every option. At $59,435, it isn't cheap. But it comes with everything you'd reasonably expect of a luxury SUV.

At that price, you'll get adaptive cruise control, 360-degree cameras, the video-monitor rear-view mirror, heated seats at all four corners, cooled seats up front, navigation, W-Fi, lane keeping assist, hands-free power lift-gate, dual sunroofs and enough power and USB ports to power a village.


The only notable omissions I noticed were a true lane-centering system like you get higher-end cars and, oddly enough, one touch windows at all four corners. In a $60,000 car, Buick still only gives the driver a one-touch up function on his/her window, which is baffling.

No, you won't get the refinement and vault-like quality of the Audi Q7, nor the hybrid tech of the MDX. But Buick still offers an absurd amount of equipment that, when teamed with an adaptive suspension and a noise cancelling system, do a great job of making the Enclave Avenir feel like a true luxury car at a price that undercuts its rivals.


Final Thoughts: Quiet composure

You probably won't impress anyone when you show up in a Buick. The brand isn't there yet. But if that's not why you buy a car, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more competent package than the Enclave Avenir.

It's a luxury SUV without the full luxury SUV cost, it's a family hauler without the stigma of a minivan. It's fully loaded but without the flash, and it's exactly the kind of cars consumers buy in droves. Simply put, it's the perfect example of why Buick's doors are still open.

Ratings

Exterior: 4
Interior: 4.5
Driving Experience: 4.5
Value: 4.5
Overall: 4.5

Price as configured: $59,435


  • Protesters flock to London to back new vote on Brexit
    Finance
    The Canadian Press

    Protesters flock to London to back new vote on Brexit

    Thousands of protesters gathered in central London on Saturday to call for a new referendum on Britain's departure from the European Union. Organizers want the public to have a final say on the government's Brexit deal with the EU, arguing that new facts have come to light about the costs and

  • Mega Millions jackpot surges to $1.6 billion. If you win, here's how to avoid big mistakes
    Finance
    CNBC

    Mega Millions jackpot surges to $1.6 billion. If you win, here's how to avoid big mistakes

    The Mega Millions jackpot now stands at $1.6 billion — the largest in U.S. lottery history — after no one hit all winning numbers in Friday night's drawing.

  • Finance
    Bloomberg

    Italian Populists Struggle to Stay United as Tensions Mount

    “The government will keep going despite the rating agencies, European commissioners and some internal misunderstandings,” Ansa newswire cited Salvini as saying at an event in northern Italy. The populists are under fire from all sides, with EU leaders attacking their budget plans at a summit meeting

  • U.S. Seeks to Phase In Shipping Rules, Sending Refiners Sharply Lower
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    U.S. Seeks to Phase In Shipping Rules, Sending Refiners Sharply Lower

    The Trump administration is seeking to slow the implementation in 2020 of tighter fuel restrictions on the global shipping industry. The move risks alienating an industry that supported Trump, and which stands to gain from the increase in demand for cleaner-burning diesel fuel. U.S. refineries are

  • Finance
    Bloomberg

    Australian Government Loses Majority With Election Defeat

    Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps claimed victory in the electorate of Wentworth with just over 30 percent of the vote counted. The massive swing against the governing Liberal party is a blow to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, weakening his government before national elections due by May. Polls show

  • Chinese premier tells European, Asian leaders Beijing will continue reform
    Finance
    Reuters

    Chinese premier tells European, Asian leaders Beijing will continue reform

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at a meeting between Asian and European leaders in Brussels that China will continue to open up its economy, push forward reforms and improve its business environment, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday. Li said Asian and European countries need to safeguard

  • Taiwan Independence Supporters Protest in Warning to Tsai
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Taiwan Independence Supporters Protest in Warning to Tsai

    Unhappy with the president’s moderate stance on Taiwan’s international status, their main demand is for a change to the referendum law to allow the public to vote on Taiwan’s independence. Topics relating to Taiwan’s name, national symbols and constitution are barred under the current law. Since coming

  • Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps: source
    Finance
    Reuters

    Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps: source

    (This Oct. 19 story has been refiled to fix wording in fourth paragraph) By Foo Yun Chee and Paresh Dave BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google will charge hardware firms up to $40 per device to use its apps under a new licensing system to replace one that the European Union

  • Italy brushes off downgrade as it plans EU budget response
    Finance
    The Canadian Press

    Italy brushes off downgrade as it plans EU budget response

    Italy's deputy premier is brushing off a ratings downgrade and vowing to forge ahead with the government's rule-busting budget as Italy prepares to respond to European Union concerns about its high deficit targets. International credit rating agency Moody's late Friday downgraded Italy'

  • Khashoggi Crisis Tests Saudi Crown Prince's Firm Grip on Power
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Khashoggi Crisis Tests Saudi Crown Prince's Firm Grip on Power

    The widening fallout from the death of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington-based Saudi journalist, inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul has raised questions about whether the crown prince can maintain his grip on all levers of power in the kingdom or if he’ll be checked by his father, or even rivals

  • UBS warns staff over China travel after banker held in Beijing: source
    Finance
    Reuters

    UBS warns staff over China travel after banker held in Beijing: source

    The banker, who is based in Singapore and works in the relationship management team in UBS's wealth management unit, still has her passport, but was asked to remain in China and meet with local authority officials next week, the person said. The purpose of the meeting with authorities is not clear

  • Carney Says Brexit Stress Tests for Banks 'Severe But Plausible’
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Carney Says Brexit Stress Tests for Banks 'Severe But Plausible’

    Stress tests conducted by the central bank show Britain’s financial system would still have more than adequate capital to maintain lending in the face of multiple headwinds, Carney said in a speech in New York on Friday. The bank has been “preparing for the worst” outcome to the U.K.’s negotiations,

  • Brexit Deadlock May Make ECB Reticence on Risks Hard to Sustain
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Brexit Deadlock May Make ECB Reticence on Risks Hard to Sustain

    Policy makers have given limited prominence to that risk despite divorce talks between the U.K. and European Union repeatedly stalling before the country’s departure in less than six months. In the economic analysis ECB President Mario Draghi reads out at every decision, it was last specifically cited

  • China's Growth Dragged Down by Construction, Bolstered by Tech
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    China's Growth Dragged Down by Construction, Bolstered by Tech

    Growth in the construction sector slowed to 2.5 percent from a year earlier compared with 4 percent in the previous quarter, the statistics bureau said. The financial sector also grew at a slower pace of 4 percent while information technology continued to expand at a fast clip of 32.8 percent, compared

  • Billionaire Mittal Closer to India Entry as Essar Bid Favored
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Billionaire Mittal Closer to India Entry as Essar Bid Favored

    Arcelor, controlled by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, will now begin final negotiations with creditors, the Luxembourg-based producer said in a statement. The move by lenders comes after Arcelor on Wednesday agreed to clear about 74.69 billion rupees ($1 billion) in outstanding dues of two of its group

  • The New Thing in Energy Is Old Pipes
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    The New Thing in Energy Is Old Pipes

    The former Schlumberger Ltd. CEO’s investment vehicle, Sentinel Energy Services Inc., announced Friday it will buy Strike LLC, which specializes in maintaining and repairing pipelines. It is interesting that Gould, having no doubt scanned a wide range of potential targets across the services sector,

  • European Union, Singapore Sign Free-Trade and Investment Pacts
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    European Union, Singapore Sign Free-Trade and Investment Pacts

    The EU and Singapore will remove tariffs, reduce technical barriers, and provide better opportunities in services and government procurement under the deals, the Singapore government said in a statement Friday. The city-state will drop tariffs on all products coming from the European Union. The EU

  • Finance
    Bloomberg

    Vote Again on Brexit

    (The Bloomberg View) -- On Saturday, more than 100,000 people are expected to march through central London to demand a second vote on Brexit. They’re about the only ones talking sense on the matter.

  • Treasury Yields Hammerlocked as Fed Optimism Meets Global Risks
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Treasury Yields Hammerlocked as Fed Optimism Meets Global Risks

    Minutes from the Fed’s last gathering indicated it’s willing to keep lifting rates even to the point of restricting growth, providing a boost to yields. The coming week will provide insights on the U.S. growth picture from gross domestic product data, and potentially some clues into Fed thinking, with

  • Russian woman charged in first 2018 election meddling case
    Finance
    The Canadian Press

    Russian woman charged in first 2018 election meddling case

    The U.S. accused a Russian woman on Friday of helping oversee the finances of a sweeping, secretive effort to sway American public opinion through social media in the first federal case alleging foreign interference in the 2018 midterm elections. The criminal complaint against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova

  • Swiss Re Said to Discuss Investment in Insurer Anbang With China
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Swiss Re Said to Discuss Investment in Insurer Anbang With China

    Swiss Re is among parties that have been approached as China seeks to find fresh funds to shore up the insurer, according to the people. Since China temporarily seized the acquisitive insurer earlier this year and sentenced its chairman to prison, officials been seeking strategic investors both at home

  • The Latest: Russian woman charged with US election-meddling
    Finance
    The Canadian Press

    The Latest: Russian woman charged with US election-meddling

    A Russian woman has been charged with interfering in American elections, including next month's midterms, through a vast social media effort aimed at trying to sway American public opinion. The Justice Department disclosed the criminal complaint soon after U.S. intelligence agencies said in a joint

  • Saudi Crisis Shows Wall Street Struggle Between Ethics and Cash
    Finance
    Bloomberg

    Saudi Crisis Shows Wall Street Struggle Between Ethics and Cash

    Now Fink’s BlackRock Inc., overseeing more than $6 trillion of other people’s money, is facing a comparable challenge, stuck between conscience and the implacable demands of the bottom line. While BlackRock and the rest of the financial industry have targeted Saudi Arabia as a massive revenue generator

  • Finance
    The Canadian Press

    Telus launches charitable foundation to help vulnerable youth

    Telus Corp. is donating $120 million to launch a foundation that helps vulnerable youth. Telus president Darren Entwistle says the foundation will give grassroots charities grants that can be used to help youth build digital literacy skills, provide basic health care and mental health support to the

  • Patagonia endorses Democrats Tester, Rosen in Senate races
    Finance
    The Canadian Press

    Patagonia endorses Democrats Tester, Rosen in Senate races

    Outdoor clothing giant Patagonia jumped into two competitive Senate races Friday, endorsing Democrats Jon Tester of Montana and Jacky Rosen of Nevada in what the company called its first foray into elective politics. The company described Tester and Rosen as champions of public lands and the outdoor