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2022 Buick Enclave Premium Review: Buick's Minivan?

2022 Buick Enclave Premium | Photo: V.Aubé
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Vincent Aubé
Not very exciting in appearance, and not very dynamic to drive, this SUV does offer comfort in spades

•    Auto123 reviews the 2022 Buick Enclave.

•    The model gets a few updates, but nothing major.

•    As it has since its birth, the SUV is comfort-focused first and foremost.

As 2022 draws to a close, it leaves behind another year of quite monumental change in the automotive industry. One of those changes has been going for multiple years now: the crushing of the car by the SUV. In fact, some brands don't even offer cars anymore. And what's more, those that remain are increasingly taking the form of an SUV or crossover. 

Buick embraced the utility format quite early on, specifically early on in this century with the Enclave. The midsize crossover debuted for the 2008 model-year and hasn't changed all that much since, despite periodic revisions over the years. 

And actually, you can go back a bit further in time if you really want to pinpoint the brand's first steps into SUV-land. Buick offered the Rendezvous and the U.S.-only Rainier before the Enclave, but they made nary a mark on the collective consciousness, in contrast with the Enclave, a successful model that continues to this day. 

For that matter, three other Buick-branded SUVs, the Encore, Encore GX and Envision, have also done well over the past 15 years. But for now, it's an Enclave in Premium trim that we got to drive at the tail end of 2022. 

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2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Profile
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Profile | Photo: V.Aubé

Deja vu 
Since its arrival alongside the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook, the Buick Enclave has been produced in two generations with a few partial redesigns here and there. Starting with this edition, the front light clusters are no longer in the traditional location, but still the vibe is much the same as it was when the SUV debuted. 

The Enclave exudes American-style luxury with all that chrome and curves, not to mention a few optional body colour options, including a triple-layer frosted white, the most expensive ($1,195) colour on the options list. 

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Three-quarters rear
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Three-quarters rear | Photo: V.Aubé

In 2022, the crossover also differs from its predecessors via a redesigned front end, with the headlights installed lower than in the past. Where the headlights used to sit, Buick has retained a form of illumination, bright, textured tips that now act as daytime running lights.

For the rest, the Enclave remains true to the model reintroduced in 2018. The vehicle's rear end doesn't change much, though the integration of the running lights does differ somewhat. 

And even though our tester was equipped with 20-inch wheels, courtesy of the optional Experience Package, the 2022 Buick Enclave is not exactly exciting to look at. In fact, its lines serve as a reminder that Buick was, not that long ago, a brand aimed squarely at a mature audience, one desirous of comfort and a smooth ride above all other considerations.

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Wheel
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Wheel | Photo: V.Aubé

Buick's minivan
In the Chinese market, where Buick holds a very substantial bit of market share compared to North America, the U.S. automaker offers a GL8 minivan, a vehicle that has nothing in common with the defunct 2000s-era Buick Terraza minivan. 

In fact, you could even call the Chinese minivan a flagship model for Buick, simply because the level of luxury on board is on another level. The GL8 Century in its most luxurious guise trades its six-passenger seating for four seats and a home theatre just behind the first row of seats, with a very large screen separating the front and rear passengers. 

While not as luxurious as that model - the most expensive GL8 commands close to $100,000 (in U.S. dollars) - the Buick Enclave does play a similar role over here, especially in its range-topping Avenir version. 

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Seats
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Seats | Photo: V.Aubé

In this case, the Premium trim level is no slouch either, though there's an evident gap between it and the Avenir. 

But it’s not a minivan. The Buick Enclave doesn't offer a floor as low as a minivan's, or sliding doors on its sides. And when it comes to space, Buick's mid-size SUV holds its own, but there are more roomy crossovers out there, especially when it comes to accommodating third-row passengers. 

There's no home theatre either, or even very advanced systems like augmented reality navigation, a technology that's just starting to make its way into new models in the industry.

However, when it comes to going places, the Buick Enclave is a great partner for longer road trips, provided you have a healthy budget put aside for gas! 

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Back seats
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Back seats | Photo: V.Aubé

Comfort first
Actual driving fun may not be the Enclave's greatest strength, but when it comes to comfort, the Enclave makes up for it in spades. The suspension was clearly designed to float on the road, and even though the SUV we drove sits on 20-inch wheels, you don't feel any undue jolts in the cabin. 

Note that unlike the Avenir model – a model we tested earlier this year - the adjustable suspension (a $1,895 option on the Enclave Avenir only) was not standard equipment on this Premium trim. 

Other than that, the seats offer a rather successful mix of firmness and softness to keep passengers in American-style comfort. As for the QuietTuning technology, it makes sure to keep the number of decibels in the cabin to a minimum.

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Interior
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Interior | Photo: V.Aubé

Behind the wheel
While parts of our test drive took place in the city, we also took our Enclave Premium on to more winding stretches of road. There the SUV performs nothing like a sports car or even a sporty SUV - the Enclave even made its tires squeal during one corner taken at speed. This big SUV is not designed for that kind of behavior. 

Under the hood, the returning naturally aspirated, direct-injection 3.6L V6 engine (310 hp, 266 lb-ft of torque) is teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission and a dual-clutch all-wheel drive system that allows drivers to choose between fuel-saving FWD driving or the added security of all-wheel drive. 

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Rear light
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Rear light | Photo: V.Aubé

Its numbers suggest that the V6's power is more than enough, but with a weight of more than two tons, the V6 (widely used in the Buick lineup) does runs out of steam when pushed, even with only one passenger on board. We can imagine the strain it might be under when pulling a trailer and loaded down with a cargo box on the roof and all the weekend gear and luggage for a family of four or more! 

But then, I repeat, the Enclave is not a sporty SUV. It’s more at home on well-heeled boulevards and when cruising on North American highways. The option to disable the all-wheel drive system is a simple way to save a few bucks at the pump. The only catch is that the user needs to remember to turn it back on when road conditions call for it.

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Infotainment screen
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Infotainment screen | Photo: V.Aubé

The final word
The Buick Enclave is more premium than the average midsize crossover, and it’s actually a little hard to classify in the segment. This SUV have the chops to rival the dynamic German models, but it costs less, and it certainly offers a comfortable riding experience. 

Looking forward, though, the status quo is not an option for this model. It will be interesting to watch what decisions Buick makes as it enters its electric future. There's a good chance the Enclave’s replacement will be called Electra, but you never know, the Enclave name could survive, attached to some form of electrified SUV.  

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Trunk
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Trunk | Photo: V.Aubé

We like

The general comfort level
Lower maintenance costs than a European model
Easy-to-use infotainment system

We like less

The lack of driving pleasure
Only one powertrain option
Not as plush as the German competition

The competition

Acura MDX
Audi Q7
BMW X5
Cadillac XT6
Chevrolet Traverse
Dodge Durango
Ford Explorer
Genesis GV80
GMC Acadia
Infiniti QX60
Land Rover Discovery
Lexus RX
Lincoln Aviator
Mazda CX-9
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Nissan Pathfinder
Subaru Ascent
Toyota Highlander
Volkswagen Atlas

Here are a few of your questions about the Buick Enclave:

Since when has the Buick Enclave been on the market?
Buick introduced a preview version of the Enclave at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS). The SUV launched commercially in 2007 as a 2008 model.

Has the Buick Enclave ever been offered with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine?
No, it has not. V6s all the way, up to now.

Is it possible to drive the Enclave in front-wheel drive mode?
Yes, via the button in the dashboard. This reduces the vehicle's fuel consumption.

Specifications sheet of 2023 Buick enclave Premium

2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Logo
2022 Buick Enclave Premium - Logo | Photo: V.Aubé
Vincent Aubé
Vincent Aubé
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 60 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists