Upgrades for 2022

Enhancing its appeal, the Enclave was modestly spruced up for 2022. Visually, this classy family hauler gets a new fascia, hood and grille, with Sport Touring models brandishing a distinctive mesh-filled insert. The lamp assemblies are now split, with the daytime running lights and turn signals staying up high and the LED headlights getting pushed lower on the front end. A slate of new wheel designs is offered and the vehicle's backside was tweaked, gaining a reworked chrome strip and new taillights. Overall, the refreshed Enclave sallies forth looking largely like it did last year, which is not a bad thing. This SUV's curving, almost windswept styling is unique and attractive. And though narrow-minded people will still write it off as strictly an old person's ride, don't listen to them.

Of course, you can't refresh a vehicle without making a few upgrades inside. There's a new, better-feeling steering wheel and a redesigned center console that's home to a slick-looking and intuitive push-button shifter. This is a big upgrade over the previous gear selector that looked like a Nokia handset from 20-plus years ago. A new wireless charging pad is standard, too, one that should better accommodate today's gigantic smartphones, while a motorized rear sunshade is now available with the power moonroof.

For 2022, the Enclave's pinnacle Avenir trim is more clearly differentiated from lesser models. It features unique exterior accents, body-color rocker moldings and special emblems. Inside, you're sure to appreciate the distinctive trim and more-premium materials, as well as the heated, ventilated and massaging front seats.

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Base but not basic

The Enclave shown here is the entry-level Essence model, but you'd never know this is the base offering. Dressed up with the modestly priced $1,695 Sport Touring package, this SUV looks great, with its dark grille insert and 20-inch, machined-face wheels. For drivers that want a little more, there's also the Premium and aforementioned Avenir trims to choose from.

2022 Buick Enclave Review: More Than You Might Expect

But even in base form, the Enclave's interior is nice. There are loads of supple plastics on the dashboard, door panels and center console. Leather seating surfaces are standard, too. Swoopy forms, tasteful brightwork and contrast-color stitching liven things up and help give this cabin an unexpectedly luxurious feel. Dig a little deeper and nothing is flagrantly cheap, either. The various hard plastics employed look good and everything is tightly screwed together.

This three-row SUV is an excellent family-hauler. The front seats are appropriately cushy and the second-row buckets are nice, as well, elevated theater-style for better forward visibility. Passengers seated back there have their own climate controls, two USB ports and even a 120-volt household power outlet if you opt for the $1,555 Sound and Sites package, which also includes a 10-speaker Bose audio system as well as an 8-inch touchscreen with embedded navigation. The Enclave's third row is a little bit tight for adults, but it's no worse than what you get in a Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander.

Aside from people, the Enclave is an accomplished cargo hauler, too. It offers 23.6 cubic feet of space behind that third-row seat and 57.7 aft of the second. Fold everything down and you get 97.4 cubes of space to play with. That's appreciably more room in each position than an Explorer, Highlander or Pilot can provide, but beyond all that, an additional 3.1 cubic feet of junk-toting room is found underneath the rear load floor.

This vehicle's 8-inch infotainment display is a little small in 2022, but it works well and the infotainment system is a breeze, super snappy and immediately intuitive. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard and both smartphone-mirroring systems can connect to the Enclave wirelessly. Ensuring everyone's mobile device stays charged, this Buick has six USB ports, two in each row of seats.

The 2022 Enclave comes with plenty of standard equipment, including nine advanced assistance features in the Buick Driver Confidence Plus suite. This covers items like lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking assist. Tech like a crisp and clear rearview camera mirror, a color head-up display and front parking sensors are all available, too. The midrange Premium and top-shelf Avenir models also come standard with a head-up display and a high-definition 360-degree camera system. In typical GM fashion, if you want adaptive cruise control, it's bundled in options packages on the lower two trims.

Smooth and supple

Not surprisingly, the Enclave's styling foreshadows how it drives. This SUV is smooth and supple, gliding along the road in most situations. The ride, even with those sizable 20-inch wheels, is soft, but never sloppy. The steering is also entirely pleasant, light to the touch and quick enough to feel somewhat lively. One downside, though, is this vehicle's A-pillars, they're thicc with two Cs, which partially obscures visibility.

Keeping things as simple, just one powertrain is offered in the Enclave. All trims are motivated by a smooth and somewhat snarly 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. That doesn't sound like much, but this engine has no trouble hauling around more than two tons of Buick. That bent-six goes hand-in-glove with a nine-speed automatic transmission that works just about perfectly, imperceptibly slurring between gears and downshifting quickly. When properly equipped, this SUV can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Aside from good performance, this drivetrain is also reasonably efficient. All three Enclave trim levels are available with either front- or all-wheel drive. Opting for the latter gets you 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. If you go the front-drive route, expect 1 additional mpg on each driving cycle.

An unexpected addition for 2022 is the inclusion of a dedicated engine stop-start button. According to Buick representatives, customers were clamoring for this feature because apparently, they like being able to turn this feature off, wasting fuel while not moving.

The verdict

A base, front-drive, Essence-trim Enclave starts at around $44,000 including $1,195 in destination fees. This modestly optioned, all-wheel-drive example checks out for a totally reasonable $52,040. Aside from the extras mentioned before, that price is padded by the $1,450 technology package, $1,395 for the Buick Experience Package (basically a dual-pane moonroof), $650 for the trailering options group and $495 for handsome Quicksilver Metallic paint. What's a bit harder to swallow, however, is how much a loaded Avenir version costs. Check every option box and you can push the price north of 65 grand, which is proper luxury car territory.

The 2022 Buick Enclave is fun for all ages. Kids will love the plethora of USB ports, grandparents are sure to appreciate the smooth, quiet ride and mom and dad won't immediately furrow their brows when they see the price tag or fuel economy estimates. This is a pleasant three-row SUV that's remarkably premium, even in entry-level form, which is a real surprise. I confess, I wasn't expecting much from the Enclave, but it impresses me in many ways and it might have the same effect on you.