The 2013 Buick Enclave walks a very fine line.
It sits somewhere between Chevrolet and Cadillac in the GM line-up. The problem is that these days everyone wants their cars a little more upscale, so Chevy is nipping at its heels. Staying ahead is easy, until you remember that it can’t crowd into Cadillac territory. After all, you don’t want to knock big brother off its luxury ledge.
I have to give the Buick folks credit. They walk that line well. The Buick Enclave does a great job of taking you upscale without going over the top.
The Enclave is a great big SUV. While a lot of SUVs don’t bother with the third row, this Buick embraces it. You get a whopping 115.2 cubic feet of cargo space, which blows away cars like the Acura MDX (83.5 cf) and the Hyundai Santa Fe (80 cf). You even get 23.3 cf when all three passenger rows are in place (the Santa Fe only gives 13.5 cf and the MDX has 15 cf). Even the Cadillac Escalade SUV only has 108.9 cf total and 16.9 with all three rows. Although the Traverse gets a little more, the only way to get a big bump is to get a Suburban.
And the Enclave delivers more than just cargo space. It’s made for passengers and carries them in comfort. The Enclave’s standard setup is for captains chairs in the second row (although a bench is optional) and a third row seat. You can throw folks in the last row without apologizing because it still gives passengers 33.2 inches of leg room. The inside is sufficiently fancy so no one will doubt you sprang for the luxury car.
If it’s big inside, it has to be big outside. 16 feet 10 inches long to be exact. Driving any large vehicle takes just a bit more thought, but the Enclave is not burdensome beast. It’s built on the same frame as the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. That means it’s doesn’t have a truck chassis so you’ll get a smoother ride. My test car had the optional Intelligent all wheel drive. According to Buick, it monitors the traction of all four wheels, and kicks in automatically when you need it. Either I didn’t need it or it came on incredibly smoothly.
There’s only one engine. It’s the 288 horsepower 3.6L V6. 288 hp is enough, but I would like it to have just a bit more. After all, the Enclave is big and it’s nice to think that you’ve got the kind of power you need to move around. Mated to a six speed transmission, it did the trick. It’s not that I needed more, I was just hoping for a little more snap. The mileage is 16 MPG in town and 22 MPG on the highway. According to the dash readout, I averaged 16.6 mpg for my week of driving. It’s not great, but then you can’t expect much with an SUV this big (and the Acura MDX delivers similar numbers). The good news is that it prefers regular unleaded which will save you money at the pump. One cool thing, you can check your fuel level from your smart phone with the OnStar app. I’m not sure why I’d ever need to do that, but I love it anyway.
If you’re going to have doubts about the Enclave, it’s going to hit when you come face to face. I’m not going to say it’s homely, but I’m also not going to call it pretty. Let’s settle for big-boned with prominent teeth. Buick calls the grill a waterfall design. It’s definitely distinctive. The design was slightly reworked for 2013, and it’s an improvement. I think I could grow to love it, but it might take a little more time.
Base Price for the 2013 Enclave is $38,445. Throw in the Leather Group you’re going to spend upwards of $45k. Opt for the Premium Group and you could pay upwards of $50k. Of course the Cadillac starts at $59,000 while the Traverse comes out of the gate at $29,000. That puts this Buick nicely in-between.
If you want more luxury and horsepower, then pay a bunch more and get the Cadillac. If luxury isn’t your goal, buy a Traverse. But if you want to hit the sweet spot in the middle, you’ll enjoy walking the fine line with the Enclave.