Car Buyer Labs

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A family is sitting at a table next to a gray 2021 Buick Enclave that is parked on a street.

2021 Buick Enclave or Volvo XC90: Which SUV Is Worth It?

SUVs are more popular than ever, and in some ways, it’s easy to see why. Their interior cargo space and legroom make SUVs far more versatile than sedans, sports cars, and most pickup trucks with compact cabins. Meanwhile, their excellent balance of performance with fuel economy makes SUVs more suitable to the average driver than a pickup or sports car. The latest models are safer than ever, too, correcting the poor handling and top-heavy designs that plagued previous SUVs. But when you start to compare SUVs against each other, like the 2021 Buick Enclave vs the 2021 Volvo XC90, the particulars really shine.

It’s the rare SUV that gets everything right. Sure, most SUVs have plenty of cargo space, but why not invest in a van or truck, then? If you want an attractive vehicle at a low price, why not a nimble sedan? In reality, SUVs are some of the most balanced vehicles out there, especially when you consider the latest by Buick and Volvo. Let’s take a look at the 2021 Buick Enclave – a mid-size SUV just short of luxury-level – and the 2021 Volvo XC90 – the biggest SUV from the Swedish brand – to find out which one is the best investment and which SUVs might not be the best value.

The SUVs You Should Buy

The auto world is full of SUVs competing for your attention and money. However, most modern SUVs may be severely lacking in one department while excelling in others. For example, many new Honda SUVs are roomy but don’t perform well when towing or carrying a heavy payload. Hordes of modern SUVs are practical and attractive but don’t handle well. Cadillac SUVs are admittedly all-around excellent, but they come with a luxury price tag and expensive maintenance needs that can dry up the average American’s budget.

Overall, the best-value SUVs – the ones you should buy – are the ones that have many perks without any glaring flaws. They also shine in the areas you need most: stylish exterior, comfortable interior, price, performance, comfort, roominess, etc. We’ve decided to break down the 2021 Buick Enclave and Volvo XC90 because they’re some of the best-value SUVs coming in 2021 and are all-around top performers.

Gauging Performance

A silver 2021 Volvo XC90 is parked in front of a beach at dusk as part of the 2021 Buick Enclave vs 2021 Volvo XC90 comparison.

While SUVs aren’t necessarily designed to be high-performance vehicles, they’re made to make speedy, thrilling drives attainable to those who need the practicality of an SUV. So if you’re not particularly interested in a high-performance SUV, you might enjoy the 2021 Volvo XC90’s simple powertrain. It’s only available with a 4-cylinder engine, which may disappoint some drivers.

Not that the XC90 drives poorly. Quite the opposite; its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine performs adequately, producing 250 horsepower. However, you can upgrade to the T6 powertrain that accelerates well, churning out 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. While not the most thrilling SUV to drive (it’s still a 4-cylinder engine, after all), it gets you where you need to go.

The 2021 Buick Enclave, meanwhile, is a quick and easy to drive vehicle that performs like a much smaller SUV. The base model has a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that can run up to 310 horsepower with powerful acceleration. It handles well thanks to its multi-link independent rear suspension, which creates a smooth ride and excellent handling that’s handy when taking fast or tight turns. Ultimately, this vehicle will perform excellently, even when towing to its impressive maximum of 5,000 pounds!

Everyday Versatility

Both the 2021 Buick Enclave and Volvo XC90 are incredibly versatile, enough to suit just about every driver. Many drivers love the new Enclave for its roomy 7-passenger interior with an easy-to-access third row. Are you not a fan of the third row, or just don’t need to carry 5 to 7 passengers at a time? Simply fold it down and take advantage of the extra interior cargo space for your luggage, moving furniture, carrying the kids’ school and hobby supplies, and so much more. The maximum 97.6 cubic feet of interior storage space makes the 2021 Enclave one of the most practical SUVs in its class without the bulky, soccer-mom-van exterior.

The Enclave has a comfortable, quiet cabin too. Interior features like second-row captain’s seats, adult-sized legroom in each row, and calming interior ambiance are just some of its many attractive features. If you want a taste of interior luxury, you can upgrade to the fine leather upholstery, an interior with refined wood accents, special stitching, and a supremely elegant, all-ebony interior. You can also upgrade the infotainment system and add other high-tech features like wireless charging, an automatic moonroof, and an ultra-acoustic Bose 10-speaker sound system – a reminder that an SUV is the perfect interior for listening on the go.

As for the 2021 Volvo XC90, there are three available rows of seating, although the third row is best implemented in the down position to maximize cargo space, as it’s far too tight for adult use. Disappointing, considering that this is the largest available SUV by Volvo. The base model comes with simulated leather, while the touch-activated infotainment system features all of your interior needs, including heating and cooling. Some drivers may miss the standard air controls, but the look is ultimately minimal when pared down into the all-in-one infotainment package.

Where the new XC90 really takes top marks is interior tech. Available features include a set of wireless charging pads, the Pilot Assist system that smoothly monitors and supports a safe drive, as well as a Bowers & Wilkins audio system that’s loud and crisp. Volvo seats are famously comfortable, but you’d have to invest far more in one of the luxury trim packages to enjoy the more ergonomic seats.

A man and woman are walking past a gray 2021 Buick Enclave and shown from above.

Verdict: The Best-Value SUV

Ultimately, the 2021 Buick Enclave offers the most for its MSRP of $40,000. We do recommend adding on the safety and towing packages if you want premium safety features or more hauling power or even upgrade to the Premium edition for a luxury interior and superior tech. However, even the base model is roomy and comfortable, all wrapped in a luxury looking package, a sleek and aerodynamic exterior that gives this practical SUV a sporty look. If you want the most impressive SUV around, upgrade to the Avenir edition for unique styling for a less-than-luxury price of $53,800. While there are certainly cheaper SUVs out there, you don’t get the same fittings that give Buick its signature upscale feel.

The various available trim packages are Buick’s way of putting customization control right into your hands. Parents, long-distance travel aficionados, people looking for a quick but comfortable ride, and young professionals who want to impress with a vehicle that looks far more expensive than it is. There’s a Buick Enclave for each of these and more. And you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, consider shopping for a pre-owned Enclave, which is likely to come at a lower sticker price and maintain its value well. We can’t wait for the 2021 Buick Enclave to hit the streets and impress us all with that sleek and stylish design that is iconic to Buick.

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