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2013 Buick Enclave Premium AWD 1SN Review

What happened? Automotive columnist: , Updated:

I’ve driven all of GM’s Lambda based full-size crossovers (including the defunct Saturn Outlook) and have always been a fan. I’ve taken a Chevrolet Traverse for a summer vacation trip, and pimped it out in a GMC Acadia Denali.

So, what happened? I’m not sure exactly what, but my week-long drive with a newly revamped 2013 Buick Enclave was far from fun. The transmission on my low-mileage example had a mind of its own -- in other words, it did what it pleased. It would refuse to upshift, stall and would delay downshifts and kickdowns; it was a genuine pain.

I covered well over 1,500 km over the course of the week, and regardless of the driving situation it would not collaborate. And this marred the experience altogether, which included a tastefully refreshed dashboard, vast amounts of room and a ride that was generally comfortable.

In the end though, the far-from-agreeable 14.5L/100km fuel consumption (1,000 km of highway); the strained engine caused by the off-and-on transmission; and the lack of a number of elements found in far less pricey vehicles have nothing short of turned me off of the 2013 Buick Enclave.

Buick’s gone racier
The ongoing rebirth of GM’s entry-level luxury brand is taking all of its latest products in a direction that is far more appealing, aesthetically. Will this new design language capture the imagination of a slightly younger crowd? That remains to be seen. The issue is not how the cars look; it’s the brand...

The revised front fascia shifts the dynamics of the 2013 Buick Enclave in a positive way, as do the rear LED lights. The changes are minimal, however, they are noticeable enough to distinguish the '13 from the '12.

More class; needs more kit
The cabin is also privy to a dose of some rejuvenation. The dashboard gets the most attention with a decent dose of class which takes it away from kitch for all the right reasons. My tested 2013 Buick Enclave AWD Premium featured stitched leather on many surfaces: definitely a high-end touch.

The revised HVAC controls are beautiful and bejeweled. I really like the fact that the temperature readings appear in the rotary knobs. What I especially do not like is the lack of easily accessible storage spots in the centre console. With two large double-doubles and a pair of phones, there was no room left over for anything else.

Otherwise, I found it difficult to come up with a comfortable driving position. As for the rear rows, they are plenty roomy and cozy enough for the long haul, and the trunk is huge.

Also, the lack of numerous features such as auto up-down windows (other than the driver’s), heated rear seats and steering wheel are inexcusable in a supposed top-line trim, never mind a Buick. Our long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD SE, at $35,299, includes them all.

V6 motivation
Every 2013 Buick Enclave, from the $41,525 base model to the as-tested $53,370 Premium AWD, are all motivated by a 288 hp 3.6L V6. The engine offers up plenty of get up and go; it is, in my opinion, perfectly suited to the 2,241 kg (4,940 lb) full-size crossover.

The fly in the ointment is GM’s next-generation Hydra-Matic 6-speed automatic transmission. It was theoretically expected to make everything smoother but I think (in my tester at least) it was programmed for the opposite.

Velvety shifts were jerky, at best; gears were held for far too long for no reason under relaxed linear throttle pressure, and when required would refuse to drop a gear or two when coaxed for a passing move. On one occasion, the 2013 Buick Enclave’s ‘box simply refused to cooperate and landed in total limbo for a solid two seconds; I almost lost it.

Buick drive, needs more bite
Although the connotation could be interpreted as negative, it is genuinely a fine description. The ride is very good, well sorted and not affected by the available 20” wheels and their low-profile tires.

In fact, the 2013 Buick Enclave remains steady and true on the highway. Steering is low on bite and heavy on power assistance, but this is in tune with the vehicle’s overall demeanor. The independent suspension manages weight transfers well, however, when pushed, the big Enclave will lean.

As a final note on the drive, I must express my lack of love for the brakes. Pedal feel was spongy and caliper clamping response was unimpressive and, once clenched, braking performance was mediocre.
2013 Buick Enclave Premium AWD 1SN
buick enclave 2013
2013 Buick Enclave Premium AWD 1SN
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