2021 Buick Enclave FAQ Review

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Mar 29, 2021

Starting with the 2021 model year, Buick sells nothing but SUVs. The last car models, the Regal Sportback and Regal Tour X, departed after 2020. That leaves a lineup that includes a trio of small and compact crossovers, plus the 2021 Buick Enclave. 

Unlike its diminutive siblings, the 2021 Enclave is a modern take on the traditional Buick. It’s big, classy-looking, and upscale without commanding a top price. It’s also one of the largest models in the midsize 3-row SUV segment, offering more passenger and cargo room than many of its rivals.

Having spent a week driving the 2021 Enclave, it is easy to like this SUV. It looks good, drives well, is comfortable, and offers plenty of interior room. Buick’s regular discounts also make the Enclave more appealing from a price perspective. 

However, the Enclave is not a particularly good value, and Buick isn’t generous when it comes to technology. The Enclave’s infotainment and advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) offerings are also slimmer than what consumers can find elsewhere in the segment. The time has come for an update, but 2021 is not the year for it.

What’s new for the 2021 Buick Enclave? - Find the best Buick deals!

A refreshed 2022 Buick Enclave arrives later this year. In light of this coming update, Buick makes few changes to the 2021 Enclave. The company:

  • Repackages some features in terms of availability
  • Deletes the air ionizer from the climate control system
  • Drops a couple of paint colors

2021 BUICK ENCLAVE SPECS - Find the best Buick deals!

2021 Buick Enclave Avenir Black Front Quarter Left

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

What are the 2021 Buick Enclave configurations?

Buick sells the 2021 Enclave in Preferred, Essence, Premium, and luxury-themed Avenir trim levels. This 7-passenger, family-sized SUV is equipped with a standard V6 engine and front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Second-row captain’s chairs are standard; a bench seat is not available.

What is the 2021 Buick Enclave price?

At $41,195, the 2021 Enclave Preferred with front-wheel drive is the most affordable version of the SUV. Buick prices the Enclave Avenir with all-wheel-drive from $57,195. Add $1,195 for the destination charge to ship the SUV from its Lansing, Michigan assembly line to your local dealership.

What is the 2021 Buick Enclave cargo space/trunk space?

Every 2021 Enclave includes a power-operated, hands-free rear liftgate. When it rises, it reveals 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seat, and if you open the hidden storage hold under the floor, you’ll find another 3.1 cu.-ft. of cargo space. Fold the third-row seat to create 58 cu.-ft. of volume. Maximum capacity with the third- and second-row seats folded down measures a whopping 97.6 cu.-ft.

What is the 2021 Buick Enclave gas mileage?

The EPA rates the 2021 Buick Enclave to get 21 mpg in combined driving with front-wheel drive and 20 mpg with all-wheel drive. Our Avenir front-drive test vehicle averaged 21.2 mpg, performing as expected. With a fuel tank capacity of 21.7 gallons, that translates into a driving range of 460 miles.

Is the 2021 Buick Enclave safe?

According to 2021 Buick Enclave safety rating evaluations, the SUV is reasonably safe. 

In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Enclave earns a 5-star overall rating, with individual 4-star ratings for the front passenger in a frontal impact and rollover resistance. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Enclave high ratings in all assessments except for headlight performance. Here, the SUV rates Marginal, contributing to its lack of a Top Safety Pick overall rating.

What is the 2021 Buick Enclave towing capacity?

You can tow just 1,500 pounds if you have a Buick Enclave with front-wheel drive. Get one with all-wheel drive, add the necessary trailering equipment, and this SUV can handle up to 5,000 lbs. of trailer.

2021 BUICK ENCLAVE REVIEW - Find the best Buick deals!

2021 Buick Enclave Avenir Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Buick provided a 2021 Enclave Avenir for this evaluation. It had front-wheel drive and the Avenir Technology Package, which installs a premium-tuned suspension with continuously variable adaptive dampers, adaptive cruise control, and an enhanced automatic emergency braking system that works at higher speeds. The price came to $57,090, including the destination charge.

How is the 2021 Buick Enclave interior?

The Enclave’s expressive yet conservative exterior design themes continue inside the SUV, where flowing asymmetrical forms meet subdued surfaces and hues. 

With Avenir trim, the Enclave is available with an exclusive Chestnut-colored leather, which contrasts beautifully with the dark dashboard, door, and center console panels. Metallic accents and wood trim dress the cabin without being gaudy. There is too much plastic inside the Enclave Avenir, but at least it’s not excessively glossy.

Buick deftly simplifies the Enclave’s controls, providing quick and easy access to the functions you use the most while tucking others into the infotainment system or the driver information center within the instrumentation. The center touchscreen display measures eight inches across, increasingly small for a vehicle purporting to be an upscale model. But the technology behind the screen impresses, the controls are easy to use, and the voice recognition system is effective.

The electronic transmission shifter is a little too similar to a video game joystick, but you get used to how it works in reasonably short order. The e-shifter makes it possible for Buick to provide a large storage tray beneath the “bridge” on which it resides. Aside from the covered cupholders and a tray forward of the shifter, there isn’t much in the way of immediately accessible in-cabin storage for smaller items. However, overall in-cabin storage space is acceptable.

You won’t complain about the luggage space. Behind the third-row seat, the Enclave supplies 23.6 cubic-feet of room. Behind the second-row seat, this Buick supplies 58 cu.-ft. Maximum volume measures 97.6 cu.-ft.

Is the 2021 Buick Enclave comfortable?

Thanks to its size, the 2021 Enclave is one of the most comfortable midsize 3-row SUVs you can buy. And with the Avenir trim’s soft leather, heated steering wheel, and heated, ventilated, and massaging front seats, the Buick is an excellent place to spend time. 

Triple-zone climate control ensures all rows remain comfortable, and the second-row captain’s chairs feature heated cushions. Buick’s signature QuietTuning process and an Active Noise Cancellation system also help quiet the cabin, though a hint of road noise remains.

Adults can ride in the third-row seat for more than just a few minutes, and kids will be fairly happy in that location. Large doors and the Enclave’s standard pass-through between the captain’s chairs make it easy to load and unload passengers.

Does the 2021 Buick Enclave drive itself?

No, the Buick Enclave does not drive itself. And it doesn’t offer a Level 2 advanced driving assistance system (ADAS), either. Adaptive cruise control is optional only with Avenir trim, and the SUV’s lane-keeping technology does not supply lane-centering assistance.

When you’re spending this kind of money on a vehicle meant for use as a family vehicle, you expect to find it loaded up with safety features, even on the lower rungs of the trim-level ladder. Here, this Buick disappoints.

For instance, only half of the Enclave’s trim levels offer automatic emergency braking. The upper half. And an enhanced version of the automatic emergency braking system that works at highway speeds is available only for the top-trim Enclave Avenir. Where it’s optional.

Buick similarly restricts access to forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assistance. This lack of ADAS for the Preferred and Essence trim levels is difficult to accept from what is supposed to be a premium brand. This is especially true considering that similar features come standard on the cheapest Toyotas you can buy.

Furthermore, due to its Marginal-rated headlight performance, the Enclave does not qualify for a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Does the 2021 Buick Enclave have AWD?

Yes, the Enclave offers all-wheel drive. It’s an option for Essence, Premium, and Avenir trim, and it costs $2,000. You activate it by pushing a button on the dashboard.

Without AWD, the Enclave’s 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine powers the front wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is strong, and the transmission shifts smoothly. 

This powertrain perfectly matches the Enclave’s mission, and our front-drive test vehicle averaged 21.2 mpg on the testing loop, beating the official EPA estimate of 21 mpg. 

Is the 2021 Buick Enclave fun to drive?

Somewhat unexpectedly, the Buick Enclave is enjoyable to drive. In addition to its robust engine and effective transmission, it offers adept ride and handling qualities. 

Granted, the Avenir test vehicle included the optional adaptive damping suspension, which certainly helped to create a positive impression. Still, in the past, current-generation Enclaves without this upgrade have performed remarkably well. 

In any case, the big SUV handles in a predictable manner, feels remarkably athletic for its size and purpose, and supplies fine-tuned steering and braking response. If anything, Buick could quicken the steering ratio a bit. Otherwise, there is no need for improvement on this front.

IS THE 2021 BUICK ENCLAVE A GOOD SUV? - Find the best Buick deals!

2021 Buick Enclave Avenir Black Rear Quarter Right

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Fundamentally, the 2021 Buick Enclave is a good SUV, but it needs to offer more value and equipment at a lower price. Taking such action could improve customer satisfaction with the Enclave, which does not rank among the top three models in its category in three primary J.D. Power studies.

Buick as a brand, however, ranks high for quality and dependability. In the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study (IQS), Buick ranked seventh out of 31 brands. In the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), Buick ranked fifth out of 32 brands. 

Buick is not quite as appealing in terms of design and performance, ranking 12th among 18 mass-market brands in the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study (APEAL).

What is the 2021 Buick Enclave competition? - Find the best Buick deals!

Given its positioning as a premium SUV, the Buick Enclave competes with vehicles including the Acura MDX, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, and Mazda CX-9

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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