LOUISVILLE, KY.—Like dogs, cars age disproportionally compared to the actual time they’ve spent on Earth.
I’d even say companions of the four-wheeled variety age faster than man’s four-legged best friend. Considering this, the Buick Enclave, introduced five years ago (a lifetime in car years), was due for a facelift. It gets one for 2013, even if it is just a minor nip-and-tuck.
According to Buick, the Enclave is the sales leader in the luxury crossover segment, with almost 58,000 units sold in 2011. That’s enough grounds to justify a makeover, so for 2013 the Enclave has a redesigned front clip, including new fenders, a hood with ridges defining its outer edges, a taller, wider grille, and a sportier front valance with LED accent lighting. Xenon headlights are now standard and incorporate LED daytime running lights and in the rear, rectangular tail pipes are now integrated into the bodywork. The overall effect is a more contemporary look.
High-quality, soft-touch materials abound inside the new Enclave. Soft-touch textured plastic is now more prominent across the dashboard, and more wood-like trim (Buick reps called it wood, but it’s not) has been applied throughout. The cockpit feels richer and warmer, and a narrow strip of cool-blue ambient lighting in the doors and dashboard now surrounds passengers. The centre stack includes a new, seven-inch colour touch screen to operate Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system.
Seating now includes eight-way, power-adjustable seats for both front occupants, with a memory for the driver’s seat. As before, three-row seating is standard in either seven- or eight-passenger configurations. With all of the seats up there’s 660 litres of storage capacity available behind the third row, while folding the second and third rows frees up a total of 3,260 litres. A power lift gate is standard.
A safety feature that is unique to the 2013 Enclave is the addition of a centre airbag that deploys between the two front seats, offering an additional measure of protection in side impacts.
The 288-horsepower, 3.6 L V6 is smooth and quiet in operation, though much of the cabin calmness derives from Buick’s QuietTuning, which uses laminated glass and sound-absorbing materials in the body to subdue road and engine noise.
The six-speed automatic transmission has been reprogrammed to be more decisive when selecting gears. It no longer wavers back and forth between gears if you’re driving at that threshold speed where two possible ratios can work.
Suspension tuning has been altered for a smoother ride, and the Enclave does exhibit a luxury-sedan-like feel, enhanced by the quiet interior.
Front- and all-wheel-drive powertrains are available and the facelift brings with it lower pricing. The base price has dropped $1,800; front-drive models now start at $41,525 and all-wheel drive versions at $44,525. The Enclave is still going strong, with sales exceeding 40,000 units to date this year in North America. With the tweaks made to the 2013 model, as well as the lower pricing, that trend should continue into the new year.
2013 Buick Enclave
PRICE: FWD: $41,525; AWD: $44,525
ENGINE: 3.6 L V6
POWER/TORQUE (hp/lb.ft.): 288 hp/270 lb.-ft.
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic
FUEL CONSUMPTION L/100 km (claimed): FWD 10.8; AWD 11.0
COMPETITION: Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Infinity JX, Lincoln MKT, Volvo XC90
WHAT’S BEST: Premium interior quality; smooth, quiet ride; lower price
WHAT’S WORST: Navigation system is optional
WHAT’S INTERESTING: One of the interior leather colour options is called Choccochino. Ugh.
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