Crossover & Midsize

How Reliable Is the Buick Enclave?

The Buick Enclave is a comfortable, roomy, three-row luxury SUV. As Buick’s largest SUV, the Enclave outstrips its smaller SUV siblings the Envision and the Encore not only with more headroom and legroom but also its ample cargo room and more powerful 3.6-liter V6 engine.

But because some earlier Buick SUVs have been reported to be problematic, buyers may wonder how reliable the 2020 Buick Enclave actually is. We’ll go to Consumer Reports for answers.

Consumer Reports’ take on the Buick Enclave

Over the years, Buick has maintained a fine balance between luxury and mainstream vehicles, and the Enclave is a good example of this balance. Compared to rivals such as the GMC Acadia and the Volkswagen Atlas, it offers both frills and reasonably good value for a starting price of $40,000.

The folks at Consumer Reports agreed. They not only have recommended it, but they’ve also ranked it as No. 1 in their field of nine large luxury SUVs. The large Buick SUV earned an overall CR score of 76.

This score is based on road-test performance, predicted owner satisfaction, availability of frontal crash prevention systems, NHTSA and IIHS crash-test results, and predicted reliability. While the Enclave scored well on the road tests and in predicted owner satisfaction, the score for predicted reliability was good but not impressive at three out of five.

Consumer Reports calculates its predicted reliability by averaging a model’s overall reliability verdict score for the newest three years, on the condition that the vehicle didn’t change or be redesigned over that period. 

The Enclave’s overall reliability score

Another measure of reliability was CR’s overall reliability verdict score. This score measures whether the Enclave had more or fewer problems than the average model of that specific year. Consumer Reports calculated the score from the total number of problems in all trouble spots reported by owners. Extra scoring weight was given to trouble spots such as major engine, transmission, and drivetrain problems because they are more serious and expensive to repair.

For the 2019 model year, the Enclave’s overall reliability verdict fell exactly in the middle between worse and better on a five-point scale. All potential trouble spots for this year rated as better (the highest) on this scale except for body integrity. This trouble spot fell in the middle of the scale. Nevertheless, because of reliability issues in previous years, the Enclave ranked third in Consumer Reports’ 10 least reliable SUVs for 2019.

CR also compared new models of other large luxury SUVs to the Enclave. To come up with this rating, CR averaged a model’s overall reliability for the newest three years on the condition that it hasn’t changed or has been redesigned since 2017. At the top of this comparison is the Lexus LX, which scored 89 percent. Following the LX was the Buick Enclave at 48 percent and the Lincoln Navigator closely behind at 47 percent.

No individual owner-reported problems were listed for the Enclave. But Consumer Reports did post an NHTSA recall for this SUV. In September 2019, NHTSA issued a recall due to a crack in the right-hand frame rail of its engine compartment.

Is the Buick Enclave a reliable SUV?

The new Car Buick Enclave Avenir ahead on the International Auto Show in New York
The Buick Enclave Avenir | KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Although the 2020 Buick Enclave is surpassed by the Lexus LX in reliability, it still is more reliable than the average model in its class. Yet, as Consumer Reports notes on the general Buick page, the brand has been slipping a little in reliability. The Enclave performed well in CR’s tests, but as a higher-end SUV, its reliability could be better. This should be Buick’s focus as it carries out its five-year plan to produce only SUVs and crossovers.

Buyers looking for a large luxury SUV at the lower end of this segment’s price range might consider a Buick Enclave for its smooth ride, spacious interior, and robust engine. But they should also be aware that Buick could make the Enclave (and its other models) even better if it improved its reliability.