People tend to spend a lot of time inside of their SUVs. These aren’t your “special occasion” vehicles that you whip out for a night on the town attending high-profile events, and they aren’t the convertible you take for joy rides when the weather is nice. Your three-row SUV is your second home, out on the road. Parents spend countless hours year-round sitting in the pickup lane at school, waiting to take their kids home. Nobody could track how many hours are spent in rush hour traffic, either, with commuting, running errands, or shuttling the younger ones to their extracurricular activities. You practically live in your SUV, so you want it to be nice.
If you are stuck between the 2023 Buick Enclave vs 2023 VW Atlas, you might be looking at their premium trims for the advantage, since you want to get the most out of the vehicle you’ll be spending so much time in. Each of the upper trims of these two three-row SUVs offers its own unique benefits, so you’ll need to consider which features matter most to you and which ones you’ll actually make use of. Here’s a look at the highest trims of the 2023 Buick Enclave and the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas.
The Enclave Avenir
For the Enclave, the upper trim is going to be the Avenir. When you open the door to this vehicle, it’s immediately apparent that it’s a cut above the other trims in the lineup. You’ll see luxurious leather seats that give it a sophisticated look. It also enjoys a two-panel moonroof to give the front- and rear-seat passengers uninterrupted views of the skies above—great for road trips through national forests and other sightseeing destinations. For those times when the sun is coming in a bit too hot, there is also a rear shade; this will come in handy when those third-row passengers want to take a little snooze without the sun in their eyes.
Audiophiles are going to love the ten-speaker Bose sound system; in the music world, Bose is considered the bee’s knees in speaker systems. It will blast audio crisp and clear enough for you to hear every instrument and background singer in your favorite tunes, plus those ambiance-creating sound effects in podcasts and audiobooks.
Something that’s really nice about the Avenir—that is not found on the Atlas—is the available massaging seats. These are a major bonus when you have to be on the road for hours, especially when you’re stuck in traffic. They can turn a miserable time in bumper-to-bumper traffic into an oasis you don’t want to walk away from.
The Avenir has some nice high-tech features, too, like rain-sensing windshield wipers that will activate when they feel those first drops of condensation and a rear camera mirror that lets you get a clear view of what’s happening behind your vehicle, without the deep interior of your vehicle obstructing it. This can operate as a regular mirror when you want, too. Plus, the Avenir has a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel to get that optimal driving position, and it even boasts two-position memory.
If you don’t want to fuss with smartphones to see your directions, you’ll appreciate the built-in navigation system in the Avenir; no need to sync up an iPhone or Android to see where you’re going. You’ll also enjoy power-folding third-row seats in the Avenir, so creating extra cargo space is a breeze.
Life can be loud and chaotic. If you want to slip into the cabin of a vehicle that makes everything seem to melt away, the Enclave has you covered with its QuietTuning technology. This cancels out exterior noise, creating a serene, peaceful cabin. Parents can’t quite put a price on this serenity after listening to kids scream on a soccer field for three hours—and you won’t need to listen to the cranky horns of other drivers in traffic!
The Avenir enjoys adaptive cruise control that will maintain your desired speed but slow down when necessary to maintain a safe distance between you and the other vehicles. And finally, it has a heads-up display that puts important vehicle and driver stats in your line of vision.
The Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium R-Line
The Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium R-Line enjoys perforated leather seats, but they don’t have quite as sophisticated of a look as the pure leather seats of the Enclave Avenir. The Enclave is classic sophistication, whereas the Atlas has a slightly more youthful look, even in its premium trim.
While the Atlas SEL Premium R-Line does have 12 speakers compared to the ten of the Enclave Avenir, quantity can’t beat quality. The Atlas has a Fender audio system which, objectively speaking, simply doesn’t have the reputation that Bose does. If you want the best of the best in audio streaming, it’s got to be Bose. Still, the 12 speakers of the Atlas will also surround your passengers enough so everyone can hear the media clearly.
The Atlas does get ventilated and heated front seats; these can be very nice to have if you live somewhere with true four-season weather. You’ll love that breeze on your back on hot summer days, and that nice toasty embrace around your core on chilly winter days. Plus, it offers heated second-row seats so rear passengers can also get toasty after a day on the slopes.
The park assist is a nice touch here and will help you avoid obstacles when getting into tricky parking spots. It also has a surround-view camera to help you see what’s happening around your vehicle, and power-folding outdoor mirrors so you won’t have to manually pop these in for tight parking spots—and back out again when you’re ready to drive.
The Atlas also has a dual-pane moonroof to let everyone take in their surroundings. It does not have built-in navigation, but it does have wireless connectivity, so you can at least sync your smartphone to the touchscreen and see your navigational app’s directions populate there. However, if you want to avoid fidgeting with your smartphone, you’ll need to get the Buick Enclave.
Which Premium Trim Will Best Suit You?
Both of these vehicles offer some solid premium trims. The Buick Enclave costs a little over $5,000 more than the Volkswagen Atlas, but when you take a close look at the two, it becomes obvious why. The Enclave has features that make it feel distinctly luxurious—like those massaging seats that will make your driver’s seat outrank your living room armchair. The Avenir’s leather seats are also of higher quality compared to the Volkswagen Atlas. If you want to feel like you’re really treating yourself, the feeling of luxury is far more readily accessible in the Enclave than in the Atlas.
The Buick Enclave also boasts that highly desirable Bose sound system. Those who know good sound know that Bose is the way to go; if you want a rich, surround-sound listening experience, you’ll be happiest with Bose. And again, since you likely do spend a lot of time in your SUV, it’s important that you can enjoy the things that keep you entertained on the road. What probably makes the Enclave really stand out, however, is its QuietTuning technology; this makes the Enclave feel like an escape from the chaos of reality—and isn’t that what every premier trim should strive for?