This week Buick finally took the wraps off the second-generation Buick Enclave. The new one is filling the shoes of a model that spent nearly a full decade on the market without substantial changes, but yet was still a sales success. Buick is really hoping to continue the success with the new Enclave, which shouldn’t be too difficult of task for this vehicle.
Like the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, the new Enclave is built on an all-new chassis. Known as C1XX or “Chi,” the new foundation is essentially a lengthened version of the architecture under the GMC Acadia. Replacing the ancient Lambda platform that underpinned the old Enclave is significant, because the new one is more space efficient and sports significantly more structural rigidity than the old one.
Resting atop the new foundation is an evolved version of the Enclave design owners came to love. Enclave product manager Jace Stokes stated that one of the takeaways Buick had from talking to current Enclave owners was that they loved the “beautiful design” of the previous Enclave.
Naturally Buick doesn’t want to mess with a good thing there, so the new Enclave is sort of convergence of former Enclave and current Buick design. There’s a lot of the new LaCrosse design in the belt line and side profile thanks to a steeper rake on the windshield. Up front is Buick’s new face, which is an infusion of Buick and Opel design language that works surprisingly well.
In all, Buick buyers will probably still find the new Enclave beautiful.
The substantial changes are found where buyers spend most of their time, inside. Although Buick never actually said it, apparently current owners provided some constructive criticism of interior, because the new one is a fairly radical departure from today’s.
For 2018 Enclave has ditched its old vertical design layout of the dash in favor of the new horizontal theme found in Buick’s most recent products. The more driver-focused cabin looks significantly better than the outgoing model and appears to feature higher quality materials than the interior it replaces.
What passengers will appreciate about the new interior is that the second row has been provided additional space and more comfortable seating. Buyers can only opt for captain chairs in the new Enclave (Buick says hardly anyone bought a bench), but the seats are not as low to the floor as the old Enclave, enabling more legroom. The new seats are also positioned further back, also upping the legroom.
At first glance the third row doesn’t appear significantly different from today’s Enclave, which isn’t a problem given the current one can comfortably seat adults.
Buick did increase cargo space behind the third row, something they said owners asked for. The additional space is largely thanks to a new cargo bin under the load floor. Typically these types of bins are rather useless, but Enclave’s is surprisingly not. At least $200 in groceries could be stored under the cargo floor, which is deep enough to fit things like a gallon of milk.
Moving all the people and cargo is GM’s latest 3.6-liter V-6 with 302 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque that flows through a nine-speed automatic. The additional power is pairing with an Enclave that’s lighter than its predecessor and can be paired to a new twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system.
Of course, Buick has thrown every gadget it has at the new Enclave. Buyers can finally get features such as adaptive cruise control, a hands-free lift-gate and a larger touchscreen for the infotainment system.
Apparently most Enclave buyers want it all as Stokes stated nearly 50 percent of Enclave’s sold are of premium models, so Buick has an answer to this statistic as well for 2018. Dubbed the Enclave Avenir, this will serve as Buick’s version of GMC Denali; the top trim level that pushes Buick models all the way into the mid-luxury segment.
Avenir adds unique wheels and a three-dimensional grille design to distinguish it on the outside. Inside, Avenir gets two-toned interior coloring, nicer amenities and additional gadgets such as a large LCD screen in the gauge cluster. Avenir buyers even get an air ionizer that pulls particles out of the air to take out smells and germs. Clean freaks: here’s your car!
One last item on the Enclave owner wish-list was additional towing capacity. So for 2018, Enclave can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The 2018 Buick Enclave will go on sale later this year to compete with the likes of the Acura MDX and Audi Q7.