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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A grey 2019 Buick Enclave is driving past a city building.

Enclave vs. Highlander: A Classy Battle

The midsize sport utility vehicle race is a crowded one. No matter what you are looking for specifically, you have a huge field to choose from. There are a lot of dogs in this fight, and you have your pick of the litter. Fortunately, if you have landed here, you are looking at two thoroughbreds that are both worthy of blue ribbons. You clearly have good taste if you are battling between the 2019 Buick Enclave vs the 2019 Toyota Highlander. But, which one better suits your tastes?

Both of these midsize crossovers consistently rank high with reviewers and consumers alike. Buick, for one, has a long legacy of high-quality vehicles in the United States. Toyota does as well, but, in this specific category, the Highlander is one of the old men in the group, having debuted way back in 2000. The Enclave is no rookie, though, as it has been around since 2008. Both of these vehicles have a high pedigree in the SUV world, and they both have the sales numbers to back it up. Take a look at how these two match up against each other in a few key areas.


The 2019 Buick Enclave comes equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gets 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a 9-speed transmission, which helps maximize its fuel economy up to  26 miles to the gallon on the highway. While these sorts of SUVs are not typically used for towing a whole lot, the 2019 Buick Enclave can tow up to 5,000 pounds, when equipped with the trailering package. That is a pretty slick and powerful engine, even for a class of cars not usually known for its overwhelming power. Add that strength to the fuel efficiency, and it makes for a pretty desirable engine.

The 2019 Toyota Highlander, on the other hand, has three available engines. Unfortunately, none of them compare to the muscle of the only one on the 2019 Buick Enclave. The first is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder that gets 185 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. This engine is available on the bottom-most trim levels. The next available engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that ramps up the performance to 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. That is close, but far enough away from the production of the 2019 Buick Enclave to be noticeable.

If you want the most bang for your buck as far as engine performance goes, the 2019 Buick Enclave is a clear choice. If you are looking for a little variety in your power trains, the 2019 Toyota Highlander literally has no equal.

Interior Space

The midsize SUV class is a bit tricky when it comes to interior space. You want more room than a sedan or coupe can offer, but you don’t want the huge body size that the full-size SUV brings. These vehicles usually have better handling, much like a car, but just aren’t as roomy as some of their bigger brothers. And it isn’t just passenger room you are looking to optimize. Cargo space is incredibly important nowadays, especially considering that midsize SUVs are increasing rapidly in popularity as a family vehicle.

The tan interior is shown in a 2019 Buick ENclave, which wins when comparing the 2019 Buick Enclave vs 2019 Toyota Highlander.

The 2019 Toyota Highlander offers 40.7 inches of headroom in the front seat, which is slightly less than the 42.6 inches of first-row headroom found in the 2019 Buick Enclave. The Highlander makes up for it with three more inches of leg room up front, with 44.2 inches compared to 41.2 inches. The second-row head and leg room are virtually identical, with the Highlander having a little less than half an inch more legroom than the Enclave. So, if your family has long legs, the 2019 Toyota Highlander might be a little more comfortable. If you are your family members have a longer torso, or are on the taller side, you might find the Enclave is better at meeting your needs.

However, if your family also likes to lug around everything they possibly can on any trip, or if you frequently have work or school projects, recreational equipment, or a cache of groceries, the 2019 Buick Enclave offers considerably more cargo space. With the third row up, the Enclave offers 23.6 cubic feet of space, compared to the Highlander’s 13.8 cubic feet. With the third row down, those numbers jump up to 58 cubic feet for the Enclave and 42.3 cubic feet for the Highlander. With both the second and third rows tucked away, the total cargo space is 97.6 cubic feet for the Enclave and only 83.7 cubic feet for the Highlander.

If you frequently find yourself spending a lot of time loading groceries, luggage, sports equipment or any number of objects that require a lot of space, you know how valuable every inch is. Sure, you could always challenge yourself to a game of Tetris every time you open the rear, or you could opt for the midsize SUV with the most interior cargo space. In this case, that would be the 2019 Buick Enclave.

Safety Features

Since midsize SUVs like the 2019 Buick Enclave and the 2019 Toyota Highlander are increasing in the family vehicle demographics, safety features are more important than ever before. Parents want to know that every measure is being taken to ensure the safety of their most precious cargo. That is becoming easier and easier with modern automotive technology, as contemporary vehicles have dozens of available features to keep your family as safe as possible.

Some of the standard features found on both the 2019 Buick Enclave and the 2019 Toyota Highlander include Electronic Stability Control, Child Safety Locks and Traction control, among others. The Highlander offers Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning as standard, and the Enclave does not. On the other hand, the Enclave offers Blind Spot Monitor and Cross Traffic Alert as standard features, while the Highlander does not.

Of course, these are just safety features listed as standard on base trim levels. As you move up the trim levels on each vehicle, they offer more features. This does not just extend to safety features, but also infotainment and convenience features, as well.


You really did pick two of the better midsize SUVs to compare. Buick, known for its luxury, has managed to fit both elegance and utility into the 2019 Buick Enclave. Toyota, also known for some of the highest quality vehicles in the entire world, has made the 2019 Toyota Highlander the most consistently highly rated midsize SUV on the market. The fact that no one else offers a hybrid engine there certainly helps.

Both of these vehicles have many wonderful qualities and if you are in the market for either of these two contenders you would be happy to go with either. Each model has factors that make this decision hard and it depends on the driver. But, if you put the Enclave up against just about any other midsize SUV out there, well, that would be a different story.

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