2022 Buick Enclave Review Update

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Jun 23, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Buick deals!

The Enclave is the largest of four crossover SUV models that constitute the Buick lineup for 2022. Although it's technically a midsize SUV, the Enclave offers nearly as much passenger and cargo space as full-size utilities such as the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon, but with a more compact transverse powertrain layout that makes the Enclave about a half foot shorter overall and easier to fit in the garage. Among midsize SUVs, the 3-row Enclave is one of the few with an adult-friendly third-row seat.

The Enclave offers ample power from a 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine working with a 10-speed automatic transmission, capable of accelerating the big Buick from rest to 60 mph in the mid-6-second range. Its cabin is among the quietest SUVs, and its ride is plush. For its price class, the Enclave's interior fitments and features are deluxe but not as premium as that in more expensive European offerings such as the Audi Q7Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Volvo XC90.

The Enclave's last major redesign was in 2018. For 2022, the Enclave gets a mid-cycle refresh. The most noteworthy update is a facelift that gives the Buick a more significant presence with a more flagship-worthy front-end appearance. The new look features a more angular design with a broader winged grille and slender, wraparound LED headlamps that include Evonik translucent lenses on the top Avenir trim level for more even light distribution. The rear appearance gets an updated design with a full-width wraparound chrome bar and translucent LED tail lamps also sporting Evonik lighting technology.

Inside, the 2022 Enclave receives a redesigned center console with a pushbutton shifter and a larger wireless charging pad. An infotainment system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring moves from a wired system to one that also supports wireless connectivity, helping to reduce the clutter of USB cables in the cockpit.

The 2022 Enclave also benefits from an expanded roster of safety and advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), most of it now standard on all trims.

For 2022, the Enclave drops the previous model's cloth-seat-equipped Preferred base trim and refocuses the lineup on three well-equipped versions: Essence, Premium, and range-topping Avenir. Including the $1,195 destination charge, Essence is $43,995, Premium is $50,995, and Avenir is $56,295. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive (AWD) a $2,000 upcharge.

Essence trim standard fare includes perforated leather seat coverings, power-adjustable and heated front bucket seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a 60/40 split second-row bench seat, manual-folding third-row seat, 3-zone automatic climate control, wireless phone charger, hands-free power liftgate, 4.2-inch color driver information screen, an 8-inch infotainment screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 6-speaker AM/FM stereo with a 3-month trial of SiriusXM 360L, Wi-Fi hot-spot capability, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Premium trim gains heated and ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable tilt/telescopic steering wheel, embedded navigation, Bose 10-speaker premium audio system with HD Radio, an 8-inch color driver display, heated second-row captain's chairs, power-folding third-row seats, rearview camera mirror with lens washer, head-up display, and a 360-degree surround-view camera.

Avenir trim upgrades to quilted leather seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, power moonroof, adaptive cruise control, enhanced forward automatic emergency braking, and rain-sensing wipers. Optional only on the Avenir is an adaptive suspension with real-time adjustable damping.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2021 Buick Enclave. This review focuses on the Enclave's updates for 2022 and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Buick Enclave - Find the best Buick deals!

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir Front Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

The 2022 Buick Enclave competes in the Upper Midsize SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 58 percent of new Buick Enclave buyers are male (vs. 55 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Enclave buyer is 68 years (vs. 55).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Enclave in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Interior design
  • Driving comfort
  • Powertrain
  • Infotainment system
  • Setting up and starting
  • Getting in and out
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Enclave ranks 13th out of 13 Upper Midsize SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Buick Enclave - Find the best Buick deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes an Enclave Avenir equipped with the following options:

  • Avenir Technology package (Premium ride suspension, continuously variable damping, Enhanced Design Avenir headlamps with Evonik lighting technology)

The test vehicle's price came to $59,890, including the $1,195 destination charge.

Expanded Safety and Advanced Driver-Assistance Tech Availability

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir Interior Dashboard

Photo: Ron Sessions

Although responses of verified owners in the 2021 APEAL Study indicate that a feeling of safety ranks among the top three things they like about their Buick Enclave, J.D. Power's previous expert reviews criticized the SUV for lagging behind its competitive set in terms of the availability of the latest safety and driver-assistive technology.

For 2022, Buick addressed that by adding more ADAS and making most of it standard with all trims. The Buick Driver Confidence Plus suite of technologies is now standard on all Enclave trims. Previously, Buick reserved the best safety tech for higher trims only and made much of that available at extra cost.

New for the 2022 Enclave is a standard front camera that increases the capabilities of the previous forward-collision warning and pedestrian detection system with automatic emergency braking. Also standard with all trims are:

Premium trim adds:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • 360-degree surround-view camera
  • Head-up display
  • Rear pedestrian alert

Unique to General Motors products, the Enclave's Safety Alert driver's seat uses a haptic feature that buzzes a portion of the bottom cushion if the system detects a safety concern requiring the driver's attention. The buzzing is directional and intended to warn the driver of a possible collision or safety issue coming from the same direction from which the buzzing emanates.

As a possible life-saving prompt to check the rear seat for a child or pet, the rear-seat reminder sounds a chime and flashes a message to check the back seat after the driver turns off the vehicle's ignition. The system works any time someone opens or closes a rear door during the previous key cycle.

The Enclave, however, still lags many of its competitors in making adaptive cruise control an extra-cost option in Essence and Premium trims. It's standard only with the top Avenir trim.

Even with the added standard safety and driver-assistive content, the 2022 Buick Enclave still is not rated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Indeed, the IIHS gives the SUV Good scores for small-overlap driver-side front impacts, moderate-overlap front impacts, roof strength, head restraints, and seats, but only an Acceptable rating for side impacts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet published crash-test results for the 2022 Enclave.

New Pushbutton Shifter Controls

Taking the place of the prior year's console-mounted shifter for the Enclave's standard 9-speed automatic transmission is a new electronic shift control with a row of buttons atop the console. Calling it a pushbutton shifter would be a misnomer because although the driver pushes or depresses a button to select Park, Neutral, or Low, they pull back on a button for Reverse and somewhat non-intuitively for Drive as well. The setup might confound a traveler fresh from the rental counter after a long, tiring flight but becomes easy enough to use with practice. However, one must look down to see what button to press (or pull) instead of just moving a shift lever forward or rearward and choosing a gear by feel. The button arrangement paves the way for similar controls as Buick segues into its electric future. With no traditional shifter sprouting from the console, it is easier to access the Enclave's newly standard wireless phone charger. The phone charger pad grows in size for 2022 to accommodate the larger phones to which people are upgrading.

New Head-up Display

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir Head-up Display

Photo: Ron Sessions

Premium and Avenir trims include a standard color head-up display. This new feature lets the driver check essential stats such as vehicle speed at a moment's notice without ever diverting eyes from the road ahead. Also available in the display is a gear-selected indicator, icons for adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping status, and a bar-graph tachometer that communicates how deeply the driver is into the throttle as well as anything.

New Rearview Camera Mirror

Now standard on the top two 2022 Enclave trims is an enhanced, second-generation rearview camera mirror. The Enclave has always had a tiny window in the rear hatch for such a generously sized sport utility. The view out the back was further restricted by large rear roof pillars, the T-Rex arm-like rear wiper, and second- and third-row head restraints. The camera mirror avoids all that because it converts the rearview mirror into a monitor receiving a high-definition image from the camera mounted on the rear liftgate. That means the rear passenger's heads and tall cargo doesn't block the driver's rear view. Dusty dirt roads and messy winter weather are no problem either, as the rear camera has a lens washer.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Buick deals!

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir Rear Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

Quiet, smooth-riding, reasonably powerful, and with all the people- and cargo-toting capability most buyers want without venturing into a full-size, truck-based SUV, the 2022 Buick Enclave checks a lot of near-luxury boxes at mainstream prices. The 2022 model's sharper styling and upgraded driver-assistive tech work in its favor, too.

Fuel economy could be better, as could the perceived quality of some (but not all) interior plastics. Also, the infotainment screen needs to be a few inches larger and use a free-standing tablet-style monitor to better attract more buyers younger than the current 68-year-old average. Nevertheless, the current model is comfortable to ride in, easy to live with, and easy on the eyes.

The next Enclave, should Buick keep that name, will likely be a battery-electric vehicle on the Ultium platform, not unlike the soon-to-hit-showrooms, all-electric Cadillac Lyriq.

Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.

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. © 2023 J.D. Power

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