Right now, the large luxury SUV segment cuts a wide swath, with numerous contenders vying for big-spending buyers. They include massive, high-end entries such as the Infiniti QX80, the Lincoln Navigator, and the Cadillac Escalade. All of these SUVs have prices that start north of $65,000. The Buick Enclave is another contender.
It may not possess the cachet or glamour of its higher-priced rivals, but Consumer Reports testers liked it well enough to rank it as No. 1 in the segment. Read on to learn why the 2020 Buick Enclave earned such strong praise.
The Buick Enclave is best in class according to CR
Scoring the highest in the class with a 76 out of 100, the Buick Enclave topped Consumer Reports’ 2020 list of 10 large luxury SUVs. The Enclave was followed closely by the Toyota Land Cruiser at 74 out of 100. The Enclave and the Land Cruiser are the only vehicles in this segment that CR recommends.
The Enclave’s overall score reflects its performance in CR’s road test, predicted reliability, and predicted owner satisfaction. It finished strong with a score of 87 in the road test. It rated a three out of five for predicted reliability and a four out of five for predicted owner satisfaction.
Road test strengths
For 2020, General Motors redesigned the Buick Enclave, which CR testers thought gave it an extra boost in this competitive segment. They liked the Enclave’s vigorous V6 engine that makes 310 hp and 266 lb-ft. It’s matched with a smooth nine-speed automatic transmission, which received a five-out-of-five rating. In a 0-to-60-mph sprint on Consumer Reports’ track, the Enclave clocked a respectable 7.4 seconds, which helped it to earn a score of four out of five for acceleration.
What testers didn’t love, however, was the Buick Enclave’s poor gas mileage. At 18 mpg combined, they felt that GM could have done much better. Another liability was the SUV’s inelegant shifter, especially when testers tried to park.
They also thought that Enclave handled and took the corners well for an SUV its size. It scored a four out of five for routine handling but only a three out of five for emergency handling.
Braking was another area where the Enclave won a high score of five out of five. It stopped from 60 mph on dry pavement in 130 feet and on wet pavement in 140 feet.
Comfort was an area where the seven-seater Buick Enclave generally shone. Consumer Reports testers thought it had one of the most comfortable rides among the SUVs in its class. Its cabin was peacefully quiet and was absent of wind or obvious engine noises.
Front and rear seats were comfortable and easy to access. The exception was the third row, which was less impressive. With this exception, features related to comfort brought the Buick Enclave high ratings of four out of five and five out of five.
CR testers were very satisfied with the Enclave’s ample, flexible cargo space. It measures a total of 48.5 cubic feet when both second- and third-row seats are folded. A power liftgate comes standard on this SUV that can be opened remotely or with a kick under the rear bumper.
Safety and predicted reliability
Compared to other luxury SUVs, testers found the Enclave’s array of standard advanced safety features to be lacking. The most advanced feature is a rearview camera on the base Preferred trim level.
Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning are only available at the Essence trim level, the next trim level up from the base model. Other key modern safety features such as forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist are only available on the upper-trim Premium or Avenir. GM’s Safety Alert Seat that vibrates when a driver needs to be alerted to potential crash situations plus automatic high-beams are only available at these trim levels as well.
Consumer Reports testers were disappointed in the limited standard safety features. They thought that most of these safety features should come standard on the base trim level because these features come standard on many of the Enclave’s rivals.
Predicted reliability for the 2020 Buick Enclave fell right in the middle on a five-point scale from better to worse, or a three out of five. The only trouble spot identified for the SUV was body integrity, which also fell in the middle in the middle of the scale. The Enclave ranks second at 48 percent following the Lexus LX at 89 percent. The Lincoln Navigator ranked third at 47 percent and the Cadillac Escalade was dead last at 1 percent.
The luxury features available in the new Buick Enclave
The base Preferred trim is offered with front-wheel drive only. All-wheel drive is available on the Essence, Premium, and Avenir trim levels. Buyers can upgrade from cloth upholstery in the Preferred to leather in the upper trims. Testers would have preferred fewer corners to be cut on a handful of the Buick Enclave’s details, such as a manual sunshade for its sunroof, however.
All models feature an 8-inch infotainment system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Buick offers an optional Bose 10-speaker sound system that is standard in the Premium trim level.
With a starting price of $40,000, the 2020 Buick Enclave offers excellent value for a large luxury SUV market where competitors cost thousands of dollars more. The top-level Avenir with AWD starts at $56,100. With its strong engine, quiet and comfortable ride, and adept handling, it’s easy to understand why Consumer Reports named the new Buick Enclave its best large luxury SUV of 2020.