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A dark gray 2021 Buick Enclave Avenir is parked in front of a garage.

The Buick Enclave Is the MVP of the Mid-Size Crossover SUV Category

Necessity breeds invention, or so the saying goes. It’s a bit overused, but in the case of the 2021 Buick Enclave, the sentiment fits perfectly. The Enclave is quietly overtaking its competitors as the midsize SUV of choice, thanks to its value-oriented pricing and surprisingly luxurious features, two qualities buyers demand but have had trouble finding in a single vehicle.

The Enclave is Buick’s standout superstar and the prominent vehicle in its lineup of highly capable and beautifully-styled SUVs and crossovers, topping the size and price range over its smaller, less expensive siblings, the Encore and the Envision. It competes in a cluttered segment full of other impressive options but stands out as a more refined choice. Buyers looking for over-the-top luxury without the European import price tag are the Enclave’s core demographic.

With the Enclave and its other SUV and crossover models, Buick managed to erase the “less-than” stigma of a domestic SUV and position itself as a bridge between regular SUV and luxury SUV, a feat no other model has come close to replicating. As a result, Enclave buyers win big. It’s the best of both worlds without the outlandish monthly payment.

How did the Enclave carve out a segment-within-a-segment for itself, and what characteristics make it an optimal choice for buyers that want a heavy dose of high-end plush luxury with their affordable domestic SUV? We will examine the unique features and trims of the 2021 Buick Enclave here and uncover why it’s just a little different and how it stands out from the pack of usual suspects.

Exterior Style

The 2021 Buick Enclave is designed to turn heads. It incorporates many exterior styling features found on more expensive European imports in a more approachable and practical way. In other words, the Enclave is understated. It doesn’t rely on sharp edges or futuristic angles to give it a unique look. Instead, it evokes an elegant curb appeal that turns heads without excessive flash.

Starting with the signature Buick grille, prominently adorned with the recognizable tri-color logo, the Enclave takes its styling cues from the very best crossover vehicles, effortlessly incorporating car-like aerodynamics with SUV lines. Body-colored exterior mirrors and a sweeping roofline give the Enclave a monochromatic appearance, while chrome accents define its subtly angular edges.

Buick is generous with standard luxury features, even on the base model, including a hands-free power liftgate that operates by hovering your foot over a nifty LED logo projection. Speaking of LED, another signature front-end feature is the standard LED headlights, giving the Enclave an aggressive, futuristic look as it approaches and providing drivers with better nighttime visibility.

With extra options, like the power moonroof and a set of upgraded wheels, the Enclave is still customizable. A palette of eight rich exterior colors, including a bold Red Quartz Tintcoat and an understated Dark Slate Metallic, lets buyers dial in the Enclave’s exterior to appeal to their own personal taste.

Buyers with a little extra budget might consider the top-end Avenir trim. An upgraded, textured grille replaces the standard one, and the included 20-inch nickel-finished aluminum wheels further distinguish the Avenir from its lesser-priced siblings. Buick even badges the Enclave with an Avenir nameplate.

The center console and dashboard are shown from the passenger side in a 2021 Buick Enclave.

Interior Refinement

We like the Enclave for its luxurious interior finishes. Regardless of trim, whether it’s the base Preferred, the mid-range Essence or Premium, or the top-of-the-line Avenir, all Enclave models receive cushy standard features. These include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, seating for seven, heated power front seats, and an advanced cabin air filtration system.

Bump up to the luxurious Avenir, and the interior cabin transforms into a luxurious oasis. An automatic heated steering wheel is standard, along with an upgraded 10-speaker Bose premium audio system. An 8-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard, and the front seats get a special memory package for easy one-touch adjustment. Avenir buyers also get a power tilt and telescoping steering column for additional seating customization.

All Buick Enclave trims include comfortable seating for seven in a midsize SUV package, which is a welcome option for buyers who are daunted by driving a full-size SUV. Even with its smaller size, third-row passengers receive a generous amount of space. The third-row headroom comes in at 37.6-inches, and the rear legroom is a comfortable 33.5-inches, giving the back row a little bit of wiggle room.

Up front, the cabin is spacious and comfortable, offering 41 inches of headroom, 41.2-inches of legroom, and 62.4 inches of shoulder room. The second row is equally spacious despite the presence of a third row, offering 39.9-inches of headroom, 38.9 inches of legroom, and 61.7-inches of shoulder room. What about cargo volume? That’s pretty impressive too. With both rows of seats reclined, cargo volume is an impressive 97.6 cubic feet. With all seats upright, it’s still 23.6 cubic feet, plenty for sports gear or a couple of suitcases.

A plethora of technology features makes the Enclave one of the most connected SUVs in its class. It offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard via a dash-mounted 8-inch infotainment touchscreen that makes streaming music or a favorite podcast as easy as touching a button. Opt for navigation, and the system displays easy-to-see turn-by-turn directions. A standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot keeps everyone within 50 feet of the vehicle connected.

A light gray 2021 Buick Enclave is parked on cobblestones.

Performance

The 2021 Buick Enclave is available with both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive powertrains. Powered by a very impressive 3.6-liter V6 direct-injection engine, the Enclave pumps out 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, enough to tow up to 5,000 pounds when equipped with the optional trailering package. The standard nine-speed automatic transmissions means smooth, effortless shifting during acceleration.

Buick incorporates a technologically-advanced five-link rear suspension, which does double-duty, offering a smoother ride that’s quieter too. Multi-link suspensions are aptly named because they have more movement, providing more flexibility for adapting to uneven road conditions and absorbing bumps. The Enclave delivers a smooth ride without sacrificing handling, thanks to its five-link suspension.

When it comes to steering and handling, Enclave responds crisply with the ability to handle potholes and uneven roads smoothly and without causing discomfort to the vehicle’s occupants. It’s this capable luxury that most aptly defines the Enclave, giving it all the smoothness buyers want in a daily driver without sacrificing grip and performance.

The added bonus to the Enclave’s long list of attributes is its surprising fuel efficiency. Coming in at an average of 27 MPG combined, the Enclave proves itself to be an affordable SUV to own while still offering seating for seven passengers and class-leading cargo capacity, along with impressive performance and towing capability.

The Midsize MVP

Why is the Buick Enclave the MVP of its category? Zero-to-60 in 6.6 seconds, seating for seven, tons of luxury features at an affordable price tag – these are but a few of the reasons. Add Buick’s excellent powertrain warranty and year of free maintenance and long-term value joins the ever-growing list of attributes we like about the Enclave. With a starting MSRP of $40,000, the Enclave bridges the divide of affordability and luxury with an American-built superstar that turns heads and lives up to its reputation as a solid family SUV.

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