I loved the leather and quiet ride almost as much as the safety features.
After a week test driving the 2014 Buick Enclave for a week, I’m hoping I can get my kids (and myself!) back into our minivan. But that week may have spoiled us.
The Buick Enclave is a mid-sized luxury crossover SUV, and it was a nice change from our minivan. My kids were excited to be in a “clean car” with lots of “hole cups.” Living in a city, it was nice to have a car that fit all 5 of us but was also convenient to park. It did not feel like parking a huge tank!
The Enclave is a car I have never considered driving—with three kids I always thought I needed a minivan— but I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the Enclave and even more surprised that it worked well for my kids, too.
The Enclave felt luxurious from the first moment we sat in it. Especially compared to my minivan. And though we are used to a bigger car, it very easily fit all three of my kids, who are 8, 4 and 3. I asked my 8 year-old to explain what else he enjoyed and he said he enjoyed the leg room.
I enjoyed the fresh leather seats and the size of the steering wheel, which was not too thick and easy to manage, and the smooth, quiet ride, which I’m told is the mark of a true luxury car.
During my week-long test drive I took the kids to their school, which is a good half-hour commute, and drove around locally to run errands. My husband was a little jealous that I got to spend the week driving around in the Enclave, but he agreed, it was a nice alternative to our minivan, and like me, enjoyed the safety features and the luxury the car provided.
Safety features to fall in love with: rear view camera, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detectors and collision alert
Being safe is always my number one concern and I really appreciated the Enclave’s safety features. My favorite may be the back-up camera on the Enclave.
During our test drive I tweeted that I loved this feature and Buick tweeted back that all of their cars come with a back-up camera–this is good to know. So here’s what I loved about it: It’s not just a camera, but also an alert system that would let me know when cars were coming—cars I could not see. I tried it out for a bit: I sat with the car parked and then put it in reverse with my foot on the brake and waited. As a car or pedestrian approached, a sound would beep and then I could see on the screen a red X before the car or pedestrian would pass by.
The back-up camera also shows how close you are to items—and people!—when backing up. It really was my favorite feature on the car.
When not showing what is behind the car, the screen features entertainment information and the navigation system. While navigation can be really helpful, it takes some time to learn and until then, I found it distracting—but I’m sure from a safety standpoint, I would have appreciated fewer buttons. I would be happy if we went back to the 1950’s when cars didn’t have many buttons at all.
The Enclave has a lot of other available safety features, such as side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert and lane departure warning.
The collision alert might be one of the most helpful on highways like the ones we drive in Southern California. When traffic came to a standstill on the highway, it went off, flashing a red light on top of the dashboard right over the steering wheel. It alerted me to the traffic ahead and it was right: I had to stop quickly. It also emits a beeping sound to alert you to a possible collision.
Three Rows Means Room For Everyone
The Enclave’s three rows of seating meant my kids didn’t have to all cram into a center row seat, and the second row captains chairs with no center seat meant no one had to climb across car seats to get settled. My 8-year-old got to sit in the third row all by himself and enjoy the luxury of his own speakers and air conditioning vents. And when we needed to have other passengers in the car, he was happy to share the row.
Nice value for the price
I was surprised at the pricing of the Enclave; it starts around $40,000 for the basic model and most of the safety features are standard; the model we drove, Leather group, starts at about $45,000 and comes with many luxury features; the premium model price is about $48,000. All are a great value for the price for a family luxury car.
Sorry to End the Test Drive
My time with the Enclave ended and I’m back to schlepping the kids around in the minivan. I enjoyed the luxury, safety and practical aspects the car provides. All around, I was happy to test drive the Buick Enclave and I’m glad that starting in 2016, every car will have a back-up camera. Now, if only every car had that luxurious leather interior and a permanent “clean car” smell.
What We Loved
- Rear view camera
- Cross traffic alert
- Blind spot detectors
- Mid-size vehicle–easy to maneuver in traffic and parking lots
- Luxury touches and safety features are standard even in the base model
- Center row captains chairs
- Seats seven
- Uses regular fuel
- Every model available in front wheel or all wheel drive
- 3 USB ports
- DVD player with drop down screen in second row
What You Need to Know
- Fuel economy averages 19 MPG: 17 MPG city/24 MPG highway
- Price starts at about $40,000 for the base model, $45,000 middle level and $48,000 for the top of the line model;
- 3 prong household power outlet only available in Leather and Premium model
- 4 year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty
- 6 year/70,000 mile roadside assistance included
Disclosure: The Buick Enclave was provided for this review; the opinions expressed are all our own.