2013 Buick Enclave

2013 Buick Enclave Extended Review

Spending a week with Buick's updated crossover.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: May 3rd, 2013

Buick's shift to a younger buyer demographic began in part with the introduction of the Enclave crossover as a 2008 model in 2007, which is slightly ironic since at least one of our staffers, who's still on the south side of 40, derided the Enclave's interior as being boring and aimed at older folks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though, and Buick has been getting plenty of younger beholders into the Enclave (the average buyer age for the Enclave is 54, which seems high until you remember that Buick's average buyer age was 64 not long ago). That's why its changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary. The same could be said of its Chevrolet twin on the Lambda platform, the Traverse (GMC's Acadia offers more change, at least in terms of exterior design), but the Enclave really stays close to the outgoing model.

An exterior facelift and interior tweaks carry the Enclave into 2013, and we took possession of an Enclave for a week to see how well the updates work.

  • Performance

    Expecting a large seven-seat crossover to drive like a sports car is unrealistic, so it's no surprise that the Enclave exhibits understeer and body roll while cornering. That doesn't mean it's incompetent--it just means that the laws of physics are unforgiving. The Enclave does what it can, and it's smooth and nimble enough at sedate speeds, it's just not something that's meant to be pushed.

    The 288-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 gives strong enough acceleration to move the Enclave smartly from a stop, but the Enclave isn't light, and you feel every one of its 4,922 lbs. Acceleration is fine for urban driving and freeway merging, but you never forget how much weight you're lugging around.

    Buick gets the ride right with the Enclave--it's comfortable but never soft, making this large crossover a good choice for highway cruising. As a commuter, the Enclave is comfortable, making it a good errand runner for those in need of seven seats.

  • Exterior

    The front and rear fascias are now body-color, as are the rocker panels. The hood, grille, headlamps, and body-side moldings are new, as are LED daytime running lights and LED taillights.

    The updated look is hard to discern for the untrained eye--the Enclave remains more attractively curvy than its Lambda siblings. It looks like a Buick, without looking like the boring Buicks of the not-too-distant past.

  • Interior

    As noted above, the interior was divisive among our staff. Some derided it as being only attractive to the early-supper set, while at least one young-ish staffer thought it handsome despite its conservative design. We liked the analog clock at the top of the center-stack, and we also dug the in-dash storage bin, which held the USB port. Well, we dug it with one caveat: it can be hard to reach. In a way, this is good, as it dampens the temptation to reach for your cell-phone while it's charging, but it's a pain when you're unloading after parking.

    We appreciated the addition of Pandora and Stitcher internet-streaming radio services, but we wish the integration with an iPhone were more seamless (some of this should be blamed on iOS, not the Enclave). We also liked the quiet cabin--Buick prides itself on sound-proofed interiors--but found wind noise sometimes intruding from the sunroof area at highway speeds.

    We never lacked for space, and we generally liked the haptic touch of the infotainment system. Overall, the cabin is well-executed, but we'd like to see more changes than just a new instrument panel, door trim, and ambient lighting the next go-round.

  • Final Thoughts

    Seven-seat crossovers are serving a family audience, and the Enclave is no exception. What sets it apart from its Lambda siblings is its luxury intent (and corresponding luxury price). With the Enclave, Buick delivers a fair amount of upscale features and an interior that is very good if not great (its conservativeness doesn't help dispel Buick stereotypes), although we're not sure if it's distinct enough from the less-expensive Traverse to justify its $52K sticker price.

    If you're opting for the Enclave over the more-or-less mechanically identical Traverse, you're basically paying for its different interior and exterior styling, as well as better sound deadening. Those who lay out the extra cash will find a very competent seven-seat crossover that epitomizes the modern Buick--it's still conservative, but it's no longer stodgy.

  • Specs, Features, Prices

    Engine: 3.6-liter V-6

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drive Wheels: All-wheel-drive

    Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway

    Base Price: $47,625

    As-tested price: $52,090 (includes $825 destination fee)

    Available Features: Bluetooth, USB port, IntelliLink infotainment system, satellite radio, 19-inch wheels, navigation system, heated and cooled front seats, rearview camera, blind spot alert, cross traffic alert, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, rear seat entertainment, rear park assist, power liftgate, remote start, remote keyless entry, power sunroof.

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