Tested: 2022 Buick Enclave Avenir AWD Fights for Relevance

·2 min read
Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver

From the May 2022 issue of Car and Driver.

The three-row-SUV segment is cutthroat. Since the second-gen Buick Enclave debuted in 2018, nearly all the competition has been overhauled. A new crop of standout players has joined the fray, and now to be a winner in this segment, you need to be great. For 2022, Buick is trying to keep up by freshening its flagship.

Immediately noticeable are the Enclave's new nose and tail. Squinty new headlights flank a more aggressive and attractive fascia with a larger grille, and a similar treatment is applied to the rear. The modest facelift doesn't do much to dress up the derivative side profile, however.

Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver

The interior switchgear is refreshingly simple, with a no-nonsense button layout for the audio system and climate controls that will make flip-phone owners feel at home. Those who've migrated to the modern smartphone will be delighted to know they can wirelessly charge and use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Button lovers will appreciate the new push-button transmission controls, which are much like the Chevrolet Corvette's. An L in place of the Vette's M allows use of tiny shift tabs that share crowded space with volume and tuning buttons on the back of the redesigned steering wheel.

Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver

It's unlikely that any Enclave owner will use the off-road gauges in the instrument panel's 8.0-inch screen. Only slightly less likely is that the accelerator pedal will find the floor, in which case General Motors' venerable 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6 is at the ready, with 60 mph arriving in 6.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 15.0 seconds at 94 mph—numbers that best the Kia Telluride's.

Buick ditched the option of a torque-vectoring rear differential last year, but we didn't detect a difference on the road or during instrumented testing. The handling remains secure, if relaxed. The optional adaptive dampers smooth out rough roads with only the occasional thump from Michigan's almost-sinkholes reverberating through the chassis.

Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hedrick - Car and Driver

On the interstate, the Enclave's spacious cabin is hushed, and the Avenir trim's massaging quilted-leather seats are comfortable for the duration of a tank of gas. In our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test the all-wheel-drive Enclave returned 23 mpg, short of the EPA's 25-mpg estimate.

The Enclave starts at $43,995. Packed with safety and luxury features, our top-dog Avenir asks $60,450. Meanwhile, $50K gets you a fully loaded 10Best-winning Telluride. Can't find a Telluride for sale? A 375-hp Genesis GV80 is just a bit more than the Buick at $61,695. See what we mean about cutthroat?

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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