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Auto review: Buick Enclave crossover returns for 2020 with needed updates

The Buick Enclave comes with enhanced features and

The Buick Enclave comes with enhanced features and offers up to 26 mpg for 2020. Credit: Buick

Buick’s Enclave full-size crossover utility vehicle, which entered its second generation two years ago, returns for 2020 with no major changes, but a few style and technology updates.

The starting price remains at $40,000 (plus $1,195 freight) for the base front-wheel-drive Preferred model, and prices top out at $55,800 for the all-wheel-drive Avenir model. Avenir is the recently introduced premium sub-brand for Buick.

For 2020, there is a new Sport Touring package ($1,695) for the Essence model, bringing a monochromatic exterior featuring a unique Sport grille with body-color surround and 20-inch bright machined-aluminum wheels with contrasting Satin Graphite pockets. This option was included on our tester.

Also added was the next-generation Buick infotainment system, including a new eight-inch-diagonal touch screen, standard on all trim levels, with available connected navigation.

Other new features include an optional new HD Rear Vision Camera (included as standard equipment on our Essence model) and an HD Surround Vision system.

With the recent makeover, there were no radical exterior changes from the first generation, so the new generation is easily recognizable as an Enclave. But it is roomier inside and can seat up to seven passengers comfortably, even adults. There is a more-muscular appearance, with fewer curves, and it is more aerodynamic, for improved fuel economy.

The Avenir treatment, which is offered in other Buick vehicles as well, is meant to represent “the highest expression of Buick luxury,” the automaker says. It includes unique styling cues — such as the Enclave Avenir’s special three-dimensional mesh grille — along with more standard amenities, premium materials and an up-level suspension with continuously variable real-time automatic damping.

All Enclave models are powered by a normally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 266 foot-pounds of torque. It is connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

This engine propelled our Enclave quite well, including drives around town and for a weekend trip that included some well-maintained unpaved state and national park roads.

The all-wheel drive gives the Enclave all-weather driving capability, along with limited off-road ability. But the vehicle has lower ground clearance than most traditional SUVs, and the all-wheel drive doesn’t include low-range gearing for serious trail driving.

Buick’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, available on Premium and Avenir models, has an active twin-clutch rear differential and a switch to force front drive only for better fuel efficiency. But our Essence model’s AWD did not include these extras.

We had seating for seven, with two bucket seats up front, two captain’s chairs with a center aisle in the middle row, and a three-person 60/40 split/power folding bench seat in the rear.

The included second-row Smart Slide seat provides easy access to the third row. Located on the passenger side, the Smart Slide seat allows access to the third row even with an empty child seat installed using the LATCH system.

The eight-inch Buick infotainment system is standard on all models, and includes six USB ports (two for infotainment, four for charging). It’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Also included is OnStar 4G with LTE Wi-Fi hotspot (AT&T data plan required after data trial period) and five years of the OnStar Basic Plan at no additional cost.

2020 BUICK ENCLAVE

Base price: $40,000

Price as tested: $49,180

EPA fuel economy: 18 mpg city, 26 highway

Engine: 3.6-liter V-6, gasoline, normally aspirated.

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Power: 310 hp, 266 foot-pounds of torque

Bottom line: Updated for 2020

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