Buick Enclave redesigned, roomier for 2018

The sleek, 2018 Buick Enclave Premium is finished in white frost exterior. (Bud Wells photos)

With sunnier days and warmer temperatures into the new year, the appearance of the redesigned 2018 Enclave has brightened, too, showrooms of Buick dealerships. The new Enclave is one of the most refined of a strong field of midsize SUVs and crossovers.

With the 2018 model in the showrooms for the final two months of the just-concluded year, the Enclave increased sales from 7,308 units to 11,910, an increase of 63 percent. It is the second-best-selling Buick model, trailing only the Encore, a compact-sized SUV.

The Enclave underwent an attractive exterior remake, is 2 inches longer overall, has a bit more power and added safety. From the waterfall grille and extended wings on the Buick logo up front, to the light on the ground giving “the kicking spot” for the power liftgate at the rear, the Enclave is sleeker and filled with new appeal.

A new 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is mated to the 3.6-liter V-6 engine, for which horsepower has been boosted from 288 to 310, with torque of 266 lb.-ft. The Intelligent All Wheel Drive system monitors and adjusts for improved traction. A somewhat awkward setup for shift sequence on a new electronic shifter requires plenty of practice for shift smoothness.

The Enclave’s wheelbase has also been  lengthened by 2 inches to 120.9 inches. Among big three-row SUVs, the Enclave’s overall  length of 204.3 inches is a bit shorter than the Nissan Armada (208.6) and Toyota Sequoia (205.1), though longer than the Dodge Durango at 202 inches, the Mazda CX-9 at 199.4, the Volkswagen Atlas 198.3, Volvo XC90 194.9 and the Honda Pilot 194.4.

The Enclave carried Jan and me to Denver on a December night to the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association Building, where member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) gathered in the Bud Wells Board Room for their annual Christmas party.

David Muramoto heads the RMAP as president, with David Beardsley serving as vice president, Angelia McGowan as secretary, Mike Cotsworth as treasurer and Craig Conover and Andrew Ganz as board members at large.

Tim Jackson, head of CADA, welcomed more than 40 RMAP members and guests and discussed sales of new cars and trucks thus far this year in Colorado; “They’re up 7 percent here, while sales nationally are down slightly. Light trucks, crossovers, SUVs and minivans continue to fuel the market for new-vehicle registrations in Colorado.”

My test was aboard the Enclave Premium, one of four trim levels. An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration is prominent in the roomier interior.

The roomy three-row seating layout for the new Buick Enclave. (Buick)

The Enclave doesn’t offer a second-row bench seat; they’re captain’s chairs with walking space between them for assisting access to the third-row seating. Fewer and fewer buyers have requested second-row benches in recent years, Buick said. The second-row seats slide forward and backward and will recline.

The passenger-side seat will also fold forward to create another opening to the third row. The third-row seats are roomy enough and cushioned enough to accommodate adults.

Cargo space behind the third row is 23.6 cubic feet; fold down the third row and the storage grows to 58 feet. A hands-free power liftgate, opened by a swing of the foot, is standard. A remote-opening sensor shines a Buick shield logo light on the ground as a spotlight for where the “kicker” should aim.

The Buick averaged 21.1 miles per gallon in an even split of highway and city road time. The Enclave rides on Continental 255/55R20 tires.

The base Buick, with front-wheel drive, begins around $42,000; it won’t be a factor in all-wheel-drive-obsessed Colorado dealerships. The three which will, each with all-wheel drive, are the Essence, the Premium and the new upscale Avenir.

The Enclave Premium AWD from a base price of $50,315 climbed to sticker total of $57,055 with an otional dual moonroof, 20-inch aluminum wheels, surround vision, navigation and trailering equipment.

The Enclave is built in Lansing, Mich.; its engine and transmission are put together in Mexico.


’78 Buick LeSabre

priced at $7,092.55

1978 Buick LeSabe. (Bud Wells/1978)

(Forty years ago this winter, I reviewed in The Denver Post the 1978 Buick LeSabre four-door sedan, provided by Deane Buick Co., 1080 S. Colorado Blvd. Excerpts follow:)

You can still buy a big car with a big trunk and air conditioning for about $7,000. The car is Buick and the model is the 1978 LeSabre.

Since downsizing a year ago, the LeSabre’s dimensions aren’t what they used to be. Those older LeSabres gave an excellent highway ride. The ’78 models give a good ride and are easy to park, too. The four-door will carry comfortably six adults, and it is easy getting in and out of the rear seat. The roomy trunk has 21 cubic feet of space.

The engine, a 350-cubic-inch V-8 with four-barrel carburetor, seemed sluggish. However, the car showed only 69 miles when John Ramstetter turned it over to me. Gas-mileage checks were on the low side – 11 miles per gallon in town, though some of the miles were under adverse conditions during a snowstorm. The highway test was 15.4 mpg.

Base price of the four-door is $5,458.55, with a destination charge of $435 for $5,893.55. The 350 engine added $313, air conditioning was $581, steel-belted radial tires $46, AM radio $96. Sticker price was $7,092.55.

The LeSabre is 218 inches long on a wheelbase of 115.9 inches. It is Buick’s second largest automobile, smaller only than the Electra.

With a little improvement in gas mileage, the four-door I drove should appeal to many families.