After a long run, the first-generation Buick Enclave was replaced with a redesigned version that was improved across the board.
More power, tech, and space to go with better fuel efficiency were among the hallmarks. Owners and reviewers have noted the second-generation Buick Enclave for its top-line road manners, spacious and flexible interior, and long list of features, including automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, climate-controlled seating, heated steering wheel, premium audio systems, built-in Wi-Fi, and more. For a near-luxury experience, consider the Enclave Avenir. It’s a range-topping variant with exclusive enhancements that flaunts every high-end touch the Enclave has to offer.
A new 310-hp V6 engine provides more accessible power, and a nine-speed automatic transmission improves fuel economy and throttle response over earlier models.
In 2021, Buick was ranked fifth out of all brands covered by the annual JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), easily outperforming the industry average as well as luxury brands like Acura, BMW, Lincoln, Infiniti, and Volvo in terms of problems reported by owners of then-three-year-old vehicles. Put another way, owners of 2018 Buicks reported among the lowest number of problems across all brands during the first three years of ownership.
Of course, that doesn’t guarantee the used Buick Enclave you’re considering is in excellent shape, and test-driving shoppers are advised to make some pre-purchase checks and considerations for maximum peace of mind.
What Owners Like
Buick Enclave owners often rave about the creamy-smooth ride and powertrain, especially relating to Enclave Avenir models. A wide range of highly relevant tech is also appreciated by many owners.
A rich and detailed feel to much of the cabin, as well as approachable and easy-to-use high-end features, help round out the package. The turning circle of the Buick Enclave is smaller than most drivers expect, helping with manoeuvrability in tight quarters.
What Owners Dislike
Common complaints include heavy fuel consumption, and the wish for a more assertive brake pedal feel.
Water Leak Check
Some owners have reported water leaks in their Buick Enclaves, possibly caused by a problem with the vehicle’s roof rails, sunroof, or sunroof drainage system. Most have not. Here’s some more reading.
Water leaks are among the most frustrating problems a vehicle’s owner may have to deal with, with the potential to invite mould, rust, and odours, reduce resale value, and damage vehicle components. Though it’s unlikely the Enclave you’re considering is suffering from a water leak, a quick check can help confirm that’s the case to help prevent future headaches.
Carefully inspect the ceiling liner of the used Enclave you’re considering for signs of dampness or water staining, particularly near the ceiling-mounted microphone and around the rear sunroof (if equipped). Some owners have reported leaks that soak the carpeting near the vehicle’s dead pedal as well. If you notice unwanted moisture in these areas, moving to another unit is likely best.
During ownership, the occasional use of compressed air or a thin plastic wire to clear debris from the sunroof drainage tubes can help prevent water leaks, too.
Some owners have reported transmission trouble which may require repairs or replacement parts to fix. Most have not.
On your test drive, be on the lookout for shuddering sensation while accelerating at light and moderate levels of throttle input. A wobble, shudder, or vibration in this situation is a strong sign to have the vehicle seen by a technician before you buy.
In some cases, dealers have fixed transmission drivability issues with the use of a new type of transmission fluid and a software update. In other cases, torque converters and other components have been replaced. A healthy Buick Enclave transmission should shift gears very smoothly and almost imperceptibly, so being on the lookout for unwanted roughness or vibrations can save you money.
On your test drive, apply moderate braking from about 70 km/h. When the vehicle is almost stopped, apply a moderate amount of throttle, instead of coming to rest. Here, you’re pretending to slow down for a red light that turns green just before you stop. This sudden switch from braking to acceleration at a low speed can coax harshness and trouble sounds from a questionable transmission. If you notice any, have the vehicle checked over before you buy.
Like most vehicles, the Buick Enclave uses a part called a heater core to transfer heat from the vehicle’s engine to the interior of the vehicle when the heating system is engaged. A small number of owners have reported problems with their Enclave’s climate control system, possibly relating to a leaking or failing heater core. Though problems are rare, a leaking heater core can cause numerous problems, and may be pricey to repair under warranty.
When test-driving a used Buick Enclave, take note of the smell of the interior when you first hop on board. A sweet and sugary smell (not unlike warm maple syrup or caramel) can be evidence of a heater core leak, which is a serious problem. Poor performance from the vehicle’s heater is also a potential trouble sign.
Though it’s unlikely the Enclave you’re considering is suffering from heater core problems, being on the lookout for these warning signs can save you money and headaches.
A commonly discussed issue in the Buick Enclave owner’s community deals with excessive unwanted noise from the vehicle’s braking system. Some owners report scraping, squealing, or grinding sounds in certain settings while the brakes are in use. Others report poor response from the brakes, as well as unwanted scraping and squealing noises, when driving in reverse.
Many affected owners have had luck in fixing these unwanted sounds by having dealers install revised brake pads, often under warranty. A cleaning, servicing, or lubricating of braking system hardware by a professional can also be helpful in fending off unwanted braking system noise.
It’s also important to note that over the course of the global pandemic, many vehicles have spent a lot of time parked. This can allow rust to form temporarily on braking system components, which can increase noise levels as well. Noises caused by braking system rust generally disappear after a few hard stops clears the rust from the brake rotors. If in doubt, get that used Enclave’s brakes checked out before you buy.
Here’s a list of recalls.
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars (2018)
IIHS: 2019 Buick Enclave vehicle rating