When it comes time to buy a new family vehicle, you may be looking at a three-row SUV as an option that doesn’t force you into a minivan. The segment is brimming with competition, and choices are growing every year, with manufacturers seeing the market bursting with buyers. A pair of SUVs in this category both received some refreshed styling and features, and it seems like a good time to compare the 2022 Buick Enclave vs 2022 Honda Pilot to discover how their features stack up for family travel.
Before getting into some of the nitty-gritty, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on identity. Honda recently added a pair of new trims to the Pilot, one of which is the mid-level TrailSport. The TrailSport is supposed to be off-road oriented, yet the equipment added to this trim lacks much in the way of actual off-road readiness. It’s admirable that Honda wants to raise its game to bring buyers a fresh side of off-road capability, and Honda is well-known for its dirt bikes, which have garnered a lot of wins in the racing scene. Unfortunately, that dirt racing spirit isn’t quite captured in the 2022 Pilot. Along with the TrailSport, a new Black Edition adds another high-priced model that becomes just another expensive Elite trim dressed in black.
Where the Pilot tries to be too many things, the 2022 Enclave knows its identity well. Buick is a brand that has always targeted the upper crust, with near-luxury features and modern tech that are clearly in line with the quality Buick delivers. Honda has its own brand of quality that translates into reliable, safe vehicles, even verging into some of the more luxurious features found in a Buick, but it often lacks personality. When you try to cover too much ground, it waters down the end product. Is the Honda Pilot a family vehicle? An off-road adventure SUV? A luxury car? Honda may not even know the answer to that, yet Buick knows exactly what product it’s giving to buyers: a luxury-oriented SUV.
Space: A Precious Commodity
When you shell out for the expense of a three-row SUV, you expect a modicum of space to allow for both passengers and cargo to be part of the deal. The Enclave doesn’t bother to make itself suitable for a full load of eight passengers. Again, Buick is about comfort and ride quality, and it’s providing an experience inside of its little bubble on the road, a hushed and docile world where you can ride in virtual silence without being jostled by the imperfections of the highway. You get only six or seven seats in the 2022 Enclave, but you also get more legroom in the third row. It won’t be the best spot for tall adults, but 33.5 inches in the Enclave third row still beats 31.9 inches in the Pilot. Every inch counts in a vehicle, and that goes for cargo, too.
If you buy a large SUV, you probably want the third row because you expect to actually travel with more than five people in your vehicle, which means you need to make do with the cargo space behind that third row of seats. When you want to make a trip to the grocery store, have to take your kids to a sporting event, or plan to take a vacation, you want the cargo space to accommodate. In the 2022 Enclave, you have 23.6 cubic feet behind the third row compared to the 2022 Pilot’s paltry 18.5 cubic feet. There are compact SUVs with larger cargo bays than the Pilot’s relatively small space, which is supposed to supply room for up to eight passengers and their luggage.
Even if you don’t use the third row and choose to expand the cargo area by folding down the seats, Buick still has more room with up to 57.7 cubic feet to the Honda’s 55.9 cubic feet. It’s almost irrelevant that the Honda Pilot has more overall space for cargo with all the seats folded down, unless you plan to keep all the seats folded all the time. Most buyers are planning to use the seats, so if you want legroom for a more comfortable third-row or you care about being able to fit your cargo in the back, then you’re better off with the 2022 Enclave. Even if the 2022 Pilot says that it has room for up to eight, that only counts if people can comfortably use all the seating.
Surprises in Safety
Honda has a reputation for producing safe vehicles with excellent track records. That’s as true for the 2022 Pilot as it is for most Honda vehicles, though looking at the Buick Enclave reveals virtually the same results. At the time of this writing, the 2022 Enclave was not yet rated, but the 2021 results were five stars overall from the NHTSA. Comparing driver-assist features reveals another layer of safety that may surprise potential buyers. Honda makes its Honda Sensing technology standard for all trim levels, which includes four specific features: a Lane Keeping Assist System, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Granted, each system wraps more than one driver-assist feature into its bundle, so there is more going on with the Honda Sensing suite than meets the eye. But when you compare that suite to what the 2022 Enclave equips as standard, it raises some eyebrows. The Buick Driver Confidence suite includes Automatic Emergency Braking, a Following Distance Indicator, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, IntelliBeam Auto High Beams, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Front and Rear Park Assist. Even grouping some of Buick’s features to reflect similar bundled features in the Honda suite, there is still a disparity in numbers.
Though Buick doesn’t provide Adaptive Cruise Control standard, it is offered as an option for all trims, and even though it’s often listed as a “safety feature,” it doesn’t actually provide more than mild semi-autonomous driving on the highway. In fact, Buick offers more safety features outside the Driver Confidence suite with Teen Driver, a rear seat reminder, and a Safety Alert Seat, all of which are standard. Honda also provides a number of other features outside its driver-assist suite, like a Blind-Spot Monitor and Auto High Beam Headlights. That brings the Honda technology closer to what Buick offers, but a family vehicle should have rear seat reminders at the very least, something Honda doesn’t offer in the Pilot at all. As an aside, Honda has also been dinged by critics in terms of some of its driver-assist features being too sensitive, which causes people to disengage them.
Luxury Isn’t Stuffy
As mentioned earlier, Honda has made efforts to offer more luxurious features in its vehicles, and the 2022 Pilot has thoughtful flourishes like standard heated front seats, an available hands-free liftgate, and available driver seat memory. Such niceties are appreciated when they make daily life more comfortable, though these are the features where Buick really shines. Buick has all of these features and then ups the ante with available driver’s seat massage and a logo that shines on the ground where you need to place your foot to open the liftgate.
Little touches like an acoustic laminated windshield and QuietTuning technology for active noise cancellation are also standard for the 2022 Enclave, where Honda only makes them available in upper trims. Highway noise all but disappears in the Buick. If you want a three-row SUV that makes people more comfortable, offers a quieter interior, and has safety features equal to and above one of the safest brands, the 2022 Buick Enclave is a better family vehicle than the confused 2022 Honda Pilot.