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2021 Buick Enclave: A Capable Performer In A Crowded Field

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Buick Enclave

Buick Enclave

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The Buick Enclave is a luxury three-row midsize SUV, built by General Motors and rolled out in 2008. While Cadillac stands as GM’s premiere luxury brand, Buick is positioned as more of a luxury brand for the masses. We expect a mid cycle refresh for the 2021 Buick Enclave.

To wit, whereas Cadillac is seemingly marketed to the younger professional who has actually ‘made it’ and lives a shamelessly lavish and ostentatious life on South Beach, Buick is aimed at said person’s older cousin who lives in a more than nice enough but not overly luxurious condo in Boca.

Among its plaudits and successes so far, the Enclave can count US News & World Reports’ top spot in its best Affordable Midsize SUV review (2014), as well sales that have consistently topped about 50,000 units per year in the United States for the last nine years.

The 2021 Enclave is slated to continue the somewhat ‘under the radar’ success of its predecessors. When most people think of GM, they typically think of Chevrolet Silverado pick up trucks and Corvettes, Cadillac’s sport-luxury sedans, and a plethora of GMC SUV’s.

The truth is, Buick often feels like the forgotten GM brand, one that is not necessarily in any immediate danger of being folded a la the now defunct Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Saturn marques, but certainly one that is not held in the same esteem as the other more popular subsidiaries.

Aesthetically, the 2021 Buick Enclave is expected to receive a bit of a facelift that will see it morph only incrementally as compared to prior generation models, while power will continue to be supplied by a V6 power plant. The current standard front-wheel drive configuration will also be retained, while pricing will remain relatively unchanged for the new model year. Quiet, refined competence will continue to be the Enclave’s forte.

Reviews of the Enclave typically describe it as luxurious and stylish, with its handling and ride quality garnering particularly effusive praise. The powerful engine and spacious interior are also often singled out for laudatory comments.

On the downside, drivers felt that a greater level of standard features would be nice, while towing capacity lags some competitors. Summarily, the prevailing feeling seems to be that there are lower priced, less luxury oriented brands which offer similar levels of opulence via their high end models, and for a lower price. However, for those looking specifically for a luxury mid-sized SUV, the Enclave is certainly worth considering.

As referenced prior, the expectation (based on leaked photos of a 2021 Buick Enclave test mule) is that the newest model will reflect only mild visual updates on the existing generation (which had already received a more substantial update only recently, namely in 2018). In fact, no truly significant changes are expected inside or out.

The Buick Enclave’s main competitors include the Audi Q7, Volvo XC-90, Infiniti QX60, and the Acura MDX. Most comparison tests have revealed a general (if admittedly not an altogether overwhelming) preference for the other luxury vehicles listed, with even other manufacturers’ offerings such as (the upscale versions of) the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander also achieving somewhat higher scores.

Specifically regarding the initial group, the ostensibly ‘luxury’ cohort, all four are more highly regarded based on a combination of the following factors: longer warranties, greater overall quality and reliability, and better fuel efficiency.

On the other hand, the Buick certainly holds its own on price, pure horsepower, handling, and ground clearance. (While it is doubtful that anyone has ever or will ever take a Buick Enclave off-roading, the latter attribute is a useful thing to have in one’s back pocket, if only because of the seemingly never-ending instances of random road debris which tend to plague today’s roadways.)

Enclave Safety Features

A backup camera, traction control, driver and passenger side airbags, and ABS are all standard on even the lowest level trim Enclave, making it one of the safest members of its class. Additionally, it achieved an overall crash test rating from the NHTSA of 5 stars. (AWD is available on higher end versions, a good complement to the litany of standard features already available.). The rear bumper taillights are also very visible.

2021 Buick Enclave Fuel Efficiency

In terms of fuel efficiency, the Enclave has a rating of 18, 26 (city and highway, respectively); hybrid or full EV power plants are not currently offered despite the increasing popularity of such options.

2021 Buick Enclave Interior

The Enclave’s interior is about what one would expect from a luxury midsize SUV: three rows of leather seats, wood trim, an appreciable amount of modern tech. However, it also shares some pieces that have obviously been borrowed from its more utilitarian General Motors brethren, thereby cheapening the look a bit.

Elegant Exterior and Interior Styling

The Enclave’s styling is probably best described as quietly elegant, managing to look somewhat sporty yet generally reserved at the same time. If the Audi Q7 is the Daniel Craig iteration of James Bond, a brutish and violent fellow wrapped in a fancy tuxedo, the Buick Enclave is the suave Roger Moore version of 007. Sadly, the front fender openings look severely dated, and detract from the otherwise pleasant presentation, much like a large, conspicuous dollop of mustard on 007’s impossibly crisp black-and-white tux. Doing away with them would be a great move, the sooner the better. Another notable competitor is the Volvo XC90, BMW X5 and Chevy Blazer.

Bucket seats come standard, and provide good lateral support for any instances of spirited driving. An adjustable steering wheel and power seats, both available with memory presets, allow the Enclave’s driver to find the optimal driving position.

2021 Buick Enclave Engine Options

Enclave engine options are limited to a normally aspirated V6, with maximum output coming in at 310 horsepower. At this time, somewhat surprisingly given the zeitgeist regarding climate change concerns and the like, there appears to be no intention to offer electric power of any kind, not even of the hybrid variety. This may/may not hold up as societal pressures and the demand for electric vehicles continue to grow.

While class members from Mazda and Lexus tend to fall outside the Bell curve of observed reliability, skewing the mean to the high side, the Enclave is still very much in line with its peers. Annual repair/maintenance costs typically fall within the $700 to $1,000 range.

2021 Buick Enclave Price & Release Date.

As noted prior, the Enclave is a three-row, midsize luxury SUV. It utilizes a V6 engine mated to an automatic transmission, and is available in FWD and AWD configurations. MSRP is about $40,000 for the base model, rising all the way up to $53,800 for the high end Avenir version (sans options).

The 2021 Enclave’s expected release date is late Summer 2020, with an anticipated base MSRP of approximately $41,000.

What do you think of the 2021 Buick Enclave? Is it worth the price?

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