The sleek and stylish 2016 Buick Enclave.
I like to think of myself as a not-so-picky car gal. I just want a safe, reliable car to drive. With leather seats, of course, since I have kids and pets who seem to track dirt around with them everywhere they go. I also want heated seats. And seats that have cooling are a bonus since I live in the hot state of Texas. The car must seat many but not be overly large. Sleek. Yeah, that’s what I like. And now, a new requirement: AWD.
Okay, so maybe I am a picky car buyer, but that’s not a bad thing considering I spend so much time on the road, hauling precious cargo. As an almost 40-year old woman, my car buying has progressed as I’ve aged. I started out with a car that was neither practical nor pretty. In fact, my first car barely made it out of first gear, which meant I had to drive around town at a maximum of 20 mph. After owning a slew of cars, including sedans, a truck, SUV and a wagon, I’ve come to realize that my top requirement in a car is safety. All of those other options are nice, but if I don’t feel safe driving around, I don’t want to drive period.
Last year, on one of our semi-annual trips to Colorado, I was driving up an icy, snowy hill when we got stuck just feet from the top. With each attempt to move up, I only slid down. Eventually, with my two smaller kids in the car, I slid down to the half-way point, sliding both backwards and sideways. For this Texan who doesn’t know much about driving on ice and snow, I was a bit freaked out about continuing my slide down. Luckily, my sister lived just around the block and arrived with a neighbor who was armed with a shovel and cat litter to navigate the car down to the bottom of the hill.
A few nights after the hill incident, we got stuck going up another very small hill with an angry line of people behind us in their cars shouting, “What’s the problem? You have AWD, right?” Well, no. That was the problem. My comfortable Honda Pilot, which meets all of my other requirements, does not have AWD.
Fast forward to winter of 2015. We’re driving again to Colorado for the holidays with four kids, two dogs and a ton of stuff. With safety on my mind, I decided that we should try out a Buick Enclave with AWD to see if it really does make a difference.
The Enclave: a big little car with space for mom, dad, kids and even the dogs.
Initially, I was worried that we wouldn’t all fit since it is a seven-passenger car. We shipped Christmas gifts ahead so we wouldn’t have to haul too many presents. And we’ve made this trip so often to know some tricks to packing lightly. But seven seats for six people and two dogs? It would be be a tight fit. I spent some time online comparing the space in my Honda Pilot to the space in the Buick Enclave. We ordered a roof bag for our luggage and planned on having one dog sit in the trunk, one in between the two captain’s chairs, with two kids in the bench seats in the very back row. If we fit, I just knew there would be lots of complaining about there not being enough room.
Travel day arrived and we loaded up the car, stuffing small things into various nooks and crannies. We loaded the kids in and then the dogs and braced ourselves for the complaints to roll in, only to be surprised when the two teens in the back said it was actually more spacious and comfortable than our car. Phew. All was going well!
The interior design has plenty of nooks to store hats, gloves, scarves and jackets…. all the winter gear needed when a family of six heads out for a day of playing in the snow.
Does it handle well in the snow? Yes. We didn’t slide down any hills.
The All-Wheel Drive in the 2016 Buick Enclave automatically activates when it detects a slip with more power delivered to the wheels right when you need it the most.
We went driving into the mountains in search of the perfect sledding hill. We were deep in snow and icy roads, going up and down hills, driving through barely plowed parking lots, all without getting stuck or sliding down sideways! After our first full day of driving in snow and ice, I was a confident driver, knowing that the AWD was doing its job.
Entertainment options are endless with 4G Wi-Fi
My kids nearly cried tears of joy when they realized the car was equipped with Wi-Fi. Driving through Texas, rural New Mexico and into the mountains in Colorado, we only had a very brief time when the Wi-Fi would not connect. Since I do most of the driving (thanks to car sickness), my husband caught up on reading all of his favorite newspapers online, the kids watched endless shows on their phones and tablets, and I even had a three hour period on our way back home when my husband took the wheel to allow me to do some work.
Thanks to the Wi-Fi equipped car, I arrived home without a looming deadline hanging over my shoulders, ready to unpack and get settled into being home again.
Another great feature for passengers in the rear seats are the headphone jacks that connect to the radio. My kids were able to plug in to listen to their favorite music while I listened to the 80’s station on Sirius XM Radio each time I was in the car.
The Buick Enclave managed to meet all of my requirements: safety, comfort, space and design.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Large enough to seat 7 comfortably with the feel of driving a car
- 3.6L V-6 Engine – there’s a lot of get up and go, especially needed when driving through mountains
- 5-Star safety ratings: overall vehicle, frontal crash, side crash and 4-star for rollover
- Side blind zone alerts show on rearview mirror to let you know when a car is entering your blind zone
- Forward and rear collision alerts
- Lane departure warning – you’ll know when you veer into another lane wihtout using your blinker
- Heated steering wheel – this, perhaps, should be closer to the top because I used it each time I got in the car. It was especially appreciated as we drove through the plains at temperatures that reached a low -23 degrees
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Base price: $49,515; price for the model we drove, with power moonroof, $52,835.
- Fuel economy: Combined city, 18mpg; 16 city and 22 highway
- Uses regular gas