At first glance, the 2022 Buick Enclave looks like a typical premium full-size luxury SUV with unusually muscular styling, but a closer inspection reveals that its muscularity isn’t only skin deep. In fact, this luxury family ute performs equally athletically. Add to that the Enclave’s impressive interior passenger and cargo volume and fuel-sipping manners, and you’ve got the makings for a driveway contender.
Buick slated the popular SUV for a 2022 refresh alongside its updated sibling, the Envision, and the all-new Encore GX. Somehow, the company managed to maintain the design magic that draws hundreds of thousands of buyers every model year while also taking it in a newer and more modern direction. It’s not an easy feat, but the Enclave is evidence that Buick pulled it off.
What’s more, the company intends to bridge categories, competing with both mid-range SUVs and high-end imports. It’s not unusual: Buick vehicles exist in the in-between, with ultra-luxury features that give it premium status and a paradoxically low price tag that put it in contention with other mainstream brands. It’s the best kind of dichotomy.
What’s New for 2022
Out of the gate, Buick makes a statement with the Enclave’s peculiarly contrasting styling. It’s dynamic but also elegant. It features sharp edges and sinewy curvature. Aggressive styling exclamation marks abound, like high arch wheel wells that beg the question, are people going off-road in this thing? The grille alone invites a few moments of inspection, with its prominent Buick badge and nearly upright architecture.
In addition to its confounding exterior angles, the Enclave also envelops occupants in a bubble of safety that’s bigger and stronger than all the rest. Driver Confidence Plus now contains nine different driver-assist systems, including the one that plays well in Super Bowl ads – Rear Park Assist. Who doesn’t want to come out of a tricky parallel parking situation unscathed? Buick doesn’t want you to worry about it anymore.
Buick also stays true to the trim level thematic, treating the top-end Avenir to its own exterior look. It’s not just badging that changes here: Buick goes deeper to differentiate the Avenir and reward high-end trim buyers. Special fascias and exterior body-color features join with seating upgrades on the interior and some mechanical tweaks to create a model-within-the-model standout. It anchors the lineup with some aspiration but doesn’t detract from the allure of lesser-priced trims.
What’s not new? Buick’s steadfast focus on ride quality and the virtual absence of cabin noise. Combined, these two qualities result in a cocoon-like atmosphere that has evolved into a signature Buick feature. QuietTuning technology aligns well with the Enclave’s Continuous Dampening Control sensor-based technology without overly muting the experience in a way that lessens your connection to the road.
Yes, But Can It Perform?
Can the Enclave perform? We’re betting $310 that it can. In true Beauty and the Beast fashion, the elegant 2022 Enclave betrays its sassiness at the curb. In this case, Beauty IS the Beast. Buick sees to it, with GM’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6 engine under the hood. It’s rated for 310 horsepower and continues to benefit from year-over-year tweaks. The aluminum engine block keeps it light, which is helpful for the full-size Enclave, yet not so helpful that it loses any of its impressive towing capacity.
The push to go electric is very real in the automotive industry, but wary buyers aren’t completely convinced. In the meantime, the onus is on factories to minimize emissions and optimize fuel economy. The Enclave’s efficient V6 gets there by way of Variable Valve Timing and ample use of lighter composite materials where aluminum might have been easier. Direct fuel injection is common nowadays, and this engine is no different.
Buick mates the peppy V6 to a smooth-shifting nine-speed transmission and adds sufficient dampening to take the edge off even the worst quality asphalt. In fact, Buick’s long-held tradition of ride comfort and minimal cabin noise holds true with the Enclave. From a sheer performance standpoint, though, don’t let the dampened ride and whisper-quiet cabin fool you–the Enclave competes with its much higher-priced rivals handily.
Opting in on all-wheel drive is almost always a good idea, but front-wheel drive Enclaves also manage well in adverse weather. The all-wheel drive option shaves off a bit of fuel economy, but overall the Enclave achieves a category average of around 21 MPG. For a three-row family hauler, that’s downright impressive. Again, it’s the little things that add up to creating great efficiency, like engine tweaks and properly mated transmissions, but at no time does Buick sacrifice performance.
Hidden Luxury and Tech
Like its German rivals, the Enclave presents enough connectivity and infotainment technology to occupy drivers even on long road trips. At this stage of the game, features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are somewhat expected, as are connected services. Even so, it’s worth reviewing Buick’s take on infotainment tech and how it shows up in the trim lineup. As you move through the trims, more goodies are added, like a wireless charging pad and connected navigation.
For starters, the Enclave’s standard 8-inch infotainment touchscreen isn’t the largest in the category, but because it’s powered by GM’s satisfyingly responsive infotainment operating system, it stands out as one of the best in its class. Pinch, scroll, and tap without having to repeat the gesture, and you’ll quickly forget what it’s like to live with a less engaging interface. It’s the epitome of seamlessness, which means less time looking down and more time enjoying whatever you asked it to do.
Why anyone wouldn’t sign up for connected services is beyond us, so we’ll assume if you’re reading this, you’re on board. Smartphone-as-key equals convenience, and the myBuick app is incredibly easy to navigate. It’s also the gateway to OnStar, the service that started it all back in 1996 before anyone had even heard of smartphones or infotainment touchscreens. It was LoJack on steroids back then, with a “concierge” for upmarket luxury buyers.
Today’s OnStar engages more comprehensively depending on the subscription level you choose, but primarily it’s a backup plan in the event of a crash or theft incident, just like it was in earlier iterations. We appreciate that GM hasn’t abandoned the roof-mounted OnStar button. It’s stubbornly old school and a reminder that bells and whistles aside, a vehicle’s primary task is to get us around safely and protect us when bad things happen. OnStar will protect you.
Speaking of protection, as you’re driving off the lot in your 2022 Enclave, you can rest easy knowing Buick has you covered for a little while longer than the rest. A premium SUV deserves an equally impressive warranty, so enjoy 4-years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper limited warranty covers and a complimentary maintenance visit anytime during the first year. Buick stretches the powertrain warranty to 6 years or 70,000 miles, which is great news for folks who like to keep their cars for a long time.
More Style and Class Than Ever Before
From its sculpted side panels with enough curves to catch the light to the almost vertical grille and c-shaped fog lights, the contrast is stark enough to invite a second look. We think this is what Buick intended to do all along, and recent advertisements confirm this. The premise is, friends of Buick owners walk right by their buddy’s Buick vehicle in a case of mistaken identity (they’re looking for a dated extra-long sedan). The takeaway? This isn’t your grandpa’s Buick.