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While the newer Buick Enclave models are the preferred option over similar three-row SUVs, like the GMC Acadia, the older versions may be as preferred. Which model should you choose instead of the 2012 Acura MDX? Let’s look at what’s wrong with the 2012 Buick Enclave and why the alternative could be better. 

Why you should avoid the 2012 Buick Enclave

A 2012 Buick Enclave parked outdoors.
2012 Buick Enclave | Creative Commons

While this model has some benefits, like a quiet interior, excellent handling, and its ability to tow up to 4,500 lbs when properly equipped, it has too many drawbacks, and many consumers should avoid it altogether. The vehicle’s reliability scores with Consumer Reports are in the poor range due to major transmission and climate system issues that became headaches for owners of the earlier Enclave models. 

Some current owners weren’t all that pleased with the value the SUV offers. The 3.6-liter V6 engine does a reasonably good job powering up this heavy vehicle but doesn’t do much for fuel economy. The 2012 Buick Enclave gets around 15 mpg overall, which is relatively low compared to its rivals. 

A used version like this is around $7,875 on the low end and $9,675 on the high end, which isn’t too bad. However, the abysmal gas mileage will surely make up for some of the low cost.

Which three-row model should you consider instead of the Buick Enclave?

If it’s a used three-row SUV you’re in the market for, the 2012 Acura MDX is the vehicle you could consider. There are three main reasons why this model is better than the Buick Enclave. 

1. Acceleration

Powering up the MDX is a 3.7-liter V6 engine that produces 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Combined with it are a six-speed automatic transmission, electronic throttle, and variable valve timing, which helps the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in seven seconds. With the Enclave, you only get 288 hp, which slows acceleration time to 7.4 seconds for a 0 to 60 mph run, according to MotorTrend

2. Quick and smooth control for a three-row vehicle

Some large vehicles like this struggle to get a smooth ride, but not the MDX. It can easily handle curves and body lean for a vehicle weighing about 4,550 lbs. The Enclave, which weighs 4,980 lbs, also has good handling, but not as much as the Acura SUV. With the optional magnetic electronic suspension system, the ride improves even more, according to Car Connection

3. More advanced all-wheel drive system

The Buick Enclave has front-wheel drive as standard equipment, but you can upgrade to an all-wheel drivetrain if you choose. However, the Acura MDX offers the AWD as standard on all trim levels. Also, Acura’s AWD works by pushing power out to all the wheels and axles based on the traction each tire has. 

What features can you get with the 2012 Acura MDX?

There are five trims available, but four are packages you can add to the base model. Starting out, you get a four-door AWD trim at $43,000 back when it was new. From there, you could get Advanced, Entertainment and Tech packages to add to it. If you wanted, you could mix some of them together. The highest price the model went for in 2012 was $48,605 MSRP. 

Depending on what packages the original owner may have chosen. You could find a used one with leather upholstery, a tri-zone climate control system, a power liftgate, a satellite radio, and a rear DVD entertainment system. 

Another great feature of the 2012 model was the cargo area. It offered 15 cu-ft of space behind the third row of seats, which is plenty for hauling your groceries. If more space is needed, you can fold down the second and third rows to get 84 cu-ft of storage space. Plus, sprinkled throughout the cabin were several small bins for more storage space. 

While the 2012 Buick Enclave is OK for a third-row vehicle, it’s not the best. Instead, choose the 2012 Acura MDX and get better acceleration, an all-wheel drive system, and quick and smooth handling. 


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