• 2022 Buick Enclave Essence

REVIEW: 2022 Buick Enclave

Spacious three-row gets a thorough update.

Kunal Dsouza By: Kunal Dsouza March 16, 2022

As the luxury three-row SUV segment gets more crowded, entries like the Buick Enclave tend to get forgotten. Not to be outdone by its competition the Enclave gets a thorough refresh for 2022, adding more attractive design touches and more driver tech.

The biggest change is to the front end where the headlamps have been mounted into a newly designer bumper and new slim LED DRLs are positioned above them. The grille has grown larger and sprouts a chrome mustache that extends under the DRLs. The rest is largely unchanged but with the black mesh grille and 20-inch two-tone wheels included on my tester as part of the Sport Touring package, the Enclave pulls off a decidedly upscale appearance.

The Driver confidence plus package is now standard and it includes all the important driver aids like automatic emergency braking that can also detect pedestrians, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitors, front and rear park assist, automatic high beams, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, and more.

2022 Buick Enclave Essence

Inside, a redesigned centre console brings a push-button gear selector, which replaces the old joystick style shifter. It lends a contemporary appearance to the cabin but it takes some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from something more traditional.

I was happy to see a conveniently placed wireless phone charger in front of the shifter and wireless Apple Carplay, and Android Auto, are standard on all 2022 Enclaves. My iPhone connected seamlessly to the 8-inch infotainment touch screen giving me easy access to my music and navigation apps.

With an asking price of just over $50,000 for the Essence trim you see here, the Enclave is priced well and looks to capture the entry-level luxury three-row market of which there are now more players than ever. Jeep has given us the impressive Grand Cherokee L; an all-new Acura MDX is a tech lover’s dream; and the Kia Telluride, although in a cheaper price bracket skirts the line between value and premium offerings and will definitely be cross-shopped with the Enclave.

2022 Buick Enclave Essence

In this group, the Buick’s biggest strengths are its cavernous interior and smooth naturally aspirated V6. It does, however, fall a bit short when we start to compare some of the interior items. Things like the analog gauge cluster and small-ish 8-inch touchscreen might have been fine 5 years ago, but today most of the competition has gone fully digital. My tester lacked things like a head-up display (although it is available on higher trim levels) and auto up/down windows were only present for the driver. Most competitors offer larger screens and more feature-laden infotainment systems.

The system in the Enclave is actually an intuitive and fairly lag-free system that does exactly what you want it to do, but it’s starting to feel outdated and is ready for a redesign. Take a look at what’s in the Kia or the Jeep and you’ll know exactly what I’m on about. It’s not just the bigger screens that are nice but features like the Grand Cherokee’s Fam-cam and active night-vision display aren’t available on the Enclave.

The Enclave does get a few tricks of its own like a super sharp digital rear-view mirror with integrated washer that works brilliantly when you have people sitting in any of the back rows, and an all-wheel drive system that can be toggled on and off for noticeable fuel savings with the push of a dashboard-mounted button.

Access to the third row is easy, but only from the passenger side. The driver’s side second-row chair does not tilt up, annoyingly. The good thing is, adults fit. A long drive might not be the most comfortable but a third-row sunroof and charge ports mean that passengers back there aren’t forgotten. With all three rows upright the cargo area is compromised, but with 688 litres it’s still one of the largest in class. We had no issues at all fitting in a weekend’s worth of luggage along with a full load of groceries with room to spare.

The Enclave makes 310 horsepower from a 3.6-litre V6 mated to a 9-speed automatic. It’s a wonderfully smooth combination with enough power for passing slower traffic and it’s reasonably fuel-efficient too, netting an average of just 11L/100 km through a mix of city and highway driving.

Its overall demeanor is one of utter smoothness. Driving the Enclave is a calm and relaxing experience. The ride quality is terrific, bumps and potholes from winter-ravaged roads are barely noticeable, and acoustic glass with active noise cancellation keeps decibel levels inside nice and low.

2022 Buick Enclave Essence

There’s a ton of competition in this space including from that Chevy Traverse. The two share a drivetrain and three-row layout but the Chevy is a whole lot cheaper. Of course, if you prefer the Buick’s sharper styling, and more luxurious interior trappings the Traverse just isn’t going to cut it.

The Enclave might not be as advanced as the new Jeep Grand Cherokee L or deliver a sporty driving experience like the Acura MDX but it offers families a ton of space, comfort, and luxury for a price that undercuts its competitors.

2022 Buick Enclave Essence Sport Touring

BODY STYLE: 5-door, 7-passenger mid-size crossover

CONFIGURATION: -Front-engine, All-wheel drive

ENGINE:  3.6-litre direct-injected V6; Power: 310 hp @ 6,800 r.p.m.; Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 2,800 r.p.m.

TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (PDK)

CARGO CAPACITY: 688-2,764 litres

FUEL ECONOMY : (Premium-grade Gasoline in L/100 km): 13.6 city; 9.6 highway; 11.8 combined

PRICE: $50,098 (Essence); $ 58, 513 (as tested)

WEBSITE: Buick Canada