Luxury, space, and versatility are some of the major factors that buyers of full-size SUVs are looking for. Buick’s Enclave and Ford’s Explorer deliver on all three and then some. Both vehicles also offer plenty of power under the hood, advanced technical innovations and are incredibly safe. Ultimately, making the final call on either of these SUVs will come down your budget, lifestyle and driving needs. If you are considering the 2019 Buick Enclave vs 2019 Ford Explorer, let’s take a closer look at some of the features of each vehicle to see how they stack up against each other.
Power, Performance and Fuel Economy
All four trim levels on the Enclave – Preferred, Essence, Premium, and Avenir – use the same 3.6L V6 engine which puts out 310 horsepower. All models also come with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Preferred model is only available with front-wheel drive, but all other models are available in either front wheel or all-wheel drive. A heavy duty tow package is available for the Essence trim level which will allow for loads of up to 5,000 LBS. The top of the line Avenir model includes an adaptive suspension system to handle anything the road can throw at it. Fuel economy numbers for the base Preferred model come in at a respectable 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway and manage to remain fairly similar across the other three trim levels.
On the Explorer side, Ford’s flagship SUV offers one additional trim level over the Enclave: Base, XLT, Limited, Sport and Premium. Under the hood on the Base and XLT models is a 290 horsepower, 3.5L V6, and a 2.3L four-cylinder turbo is available as an option. The Limited comes with the 2.3L standard but still offers the regular V6 as an option. Things get a boost on the Sport and Platinum, as the engine moves up to a more powerful turbocharged 3.5L V6 putting out 365 horsepower. All Explorer models share a six-speed automatic transmission. The Base, XLT and Limited trim levels come in either front wheel or all-wheel drive, while the Sport and Premium are all-wheel drive only. The Base model checks in at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, with the other three models coming in around the same.
Gadgets and Technology
Standard across all of the Enclave models are an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple/Android smartphone integration, GM’s OnStar communications system, six USB ports (two in front, four in back) and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio. Moving up to the Essence and Premium trims gets you a ten-speaker Bose audio system.
Standard tech features on the Explorer include a 4.2-inch touchscreen display, about half the size of the Enclave’s, Bluetooth connectivity, one USB port, and Ford’s Sync voice command system. An optional package on the XLT model adds a larger 8-inch display, Apple/Android smartphone integration, and extra USB ports. These additional features come standard on the Limited and the Sport, while the Platinum adds an upgraded premium sound system.
Cargo (and People) Handling and Interior Comforts
With the Enclave’s rear seats folded down, there is an enormous 97.6 cu.ft. of space to haul your stuff. Standard roof rails coupled with optional crossbars can handle larger or more bulky items. Standard towing capacity for the Enclave is 1,500 LBS, but as mentioned earlier, that can be boosted to 5,000 LBS on the Essence model. A roomy seven seats in all models provide plenty of room for passengers in both the second and third rows. Entry and exit for those in the second-row is aided by a tilt-up seat, which also provides access to the third row. The Enclave’s interior is fairly quiet thanks to active noise canceling which reduces excess wind, road and engine noise. Automatic climate control is standard across all trim levels, and all except for the base Preferred model get an air ionizer.
The Explorer’s third-row seating folds flat into the floor to provide a large 81.7 cubic ft. of space, less than on the Enclave, and on the Sport and Platinum models, a switch automatically lowers the second and third-row seats for easily shuffling between crew and cargo. Standard towing capacity on the Explorer is higher than that of the Enclave at 2,000 lbs. Unlike the Enclave, two towing packages are available for Ford’s offerings which have the 3.5L V6 – one up to 3,000 LBS and another up to 5,600 LBS. Large door openings make for easy entrance and exit for all of Explorer’s seven passengers. The second-row captain’s chairs recline as well as slide, offering easier access to the third-row. The Explorer provides for an exceptionally quiet ride, with the larger tires being less noisy for their size.
The Enclave will be sure to turn heads due to its stylish exterior features. A power liftgate allows access to the cargo area hands-free, perfect for when they are full of groceries or children. A power moonroof lets in the cool night air with the touch of a button. Buick’s classic signature front grille, accented by chrome wings and the timeless Buick tricolor badge all combine to make a lasting impression.
Explorer’s classic styling, updated for the modern era, includes a dynamic front grille and distinctive front and rear LED lighting, with the Platinum getting a special satin-chrome finish. On the Sport model, a quad-tip exhaust provides an extra touch of style and power.
Keeping Everyone Safe
In addition to ABS brakes, stability control, and a comprehensive airbag system, innovative safety features on the 2019 Enclave include a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert on every model except the Preferred. The Premium top-tier Avenir adds low-speed forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, front parking sensors, and a lane departure warning and intervention system. The OnStar system is available with extra features such as automatic crash response, emergency services, and roadside support.
The Explorer gets the same basic safety features of the Enclave, but adds on an available package for the XLT which includes blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, rain-sensing wipers, and auto high-beam headlamps. This package comes as standard equipment on the top of the line Platinum trim level. One exceptionally innovative feature not available on the Enclave is an additional inflatable seatbelt system for second-row passengers. If a collision is detected, these belts will inflate which in turns helps to dissipate crash forces over a larger part of the body and limits head and neck movement. This can help to reduce the possibility of spinal and internal injuries.
Conquering the Road
While the Enclave offers no such system, the Explorer’s Sport model includes all-wheel drive and terrain management system, which switches between normal, mud/ruts, sand and gravel/grass/snow modes. However, these enhanced driving modes are designed for variable paved road conditions and not trails.
Summing It Up
With stylish exteriors, powerful energies, room for everyone and everything, innovative safety features and plenty of tech options, both the 2019 Buick Enclave and the 2019 Ford Explorer are top contenders if you are considering the purchase of a full-size SUV. Both also offer excellent fuel economy to help you stretch your hard-earned dollar further. In the crowded high-end SUV market, both the Enclave and Explorer fit the bill nicely.