2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium First Test
2012 is the last model year for the Buick Enclave before the crossover receives a comprehensive refresh that includes styling updates inside and out plus some new tech integration capability with the IntelliLink interface. At first glance, what amounts to a mid-cycle refresh after five years on the market may come across as a little cynical but frankly, we don't think it needs much more -- even without the updates, the Enclave remains as smooth, comfortable, and capable as when it was first introduced.
One of the most impressive attributes of the Enclave is its hospitable three-row accommodations. All too often, the third row is a 'time-out' seat for badly-behaved children (or adults) that results in all sorts of awkward contortions to get in or out and knees in close proximity to ears. That's not the case in the Enclave. Though we wouldn't go quite so far as to say the Enclave's third row is cavernous, it's certainly accommodating enough for taking adult co-workers out to lunch or even on a short freeway trip.
Part of the relaxed interior proportions is due to the Enclave's long 119.0-inch wheelbase and 201.5-inch overall length. That's about five inches longer on both fronts compared to the new Infiniti JX. Its dimensions come closest to the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, which ride on a 117.9-inch wheelbase. The Flex stretches 201.8-inches bumper-to-bumper, with the MKT measuring 207.6 inches.
Some have criticized the Enclave for its lack of engine choices. The sole powerplant available is GM's the 288-hp, 270-lb-ft, 3.6-liter V-6. Given the Enclave's substantial 5032-lb curb weight, it might seem this modestly sized mill would be overwhelmed, but power seemed entirely sufficient under all but the most demanding driving conditions. In the hands of our test team, the Enclave managed a respectable 7.4-second 0-60 time, and a sub 16-second quarter-mile run. That said, don't go picking drag races with an EcoBoost-powered MKT or Flex. Fuel economy, unfortunately, is a medicore 16/22 EPA rating, a figure matched by the much more powerful offerings from Dearborn.
Even in Southern California's legendarily bad rush-hour traffic, the Enclave's well-isolated interior is a soothing retreat from the chaos outside. Once up to normal freeway speeds, mere whispers of road and wind noise make their way into the cabin. Some may believe Buick's 'QuietTuning' is nothing more than a marketing buzzphrase, but the Enclave, as well as several other recent Buick models we've driven, make us believers.
The interior of the 2012 Enclave generally reflects the vehicle and the brand's upscale intentions but some low-rent materials and parts-bin pieces keep it from approaching Lexus levels of refinement and finish. We've yet to spend some quality time inside a 2013 model, but most indications are that the materials and design are a considerable improvement over the current cabin. Also, we were somewhat surprised that at our tester's $50,985 price point, it still has a conventional ignition key even though many models in this price range offer keyless ignition.
In light of its imminent refresh for 2013, it seems unfair to judge the Enclave on its 2012 trim, nearly four model years into the model cycle. Regardless of whether you get a smokin' year-end closeout deal on a 2012 or wait for the more upscale touches of the 2013 model, the Enclave's defining characteristics remain the same. Namely, a smooth, compliant ride, room for six average-sized adults, a quiet interior, and elegant, understated styling. If that package appeals to you, it's hard to beat Buick's biggest.
|2012 Buick Enclave AWD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$50,985|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.6L/288-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5032 lb (55/45%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||201.9 x 79.0 x 70.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.9 sec @ 86.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||127 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.77 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.6 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||16/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||211/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.06 lb/mile|