Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick
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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Now into its seventh year, Buick’s full-size luxury crossover is most assuredly an elder statesman. But like Helen Mirren, and unlike Mickey Rourke, it seems to be aging well.

There have been a couple of additions for 2014 following the extensive 2013 Chevy Traverse/GMC Acadia/Buick Enclave makeover. This top trim Premium AWD model, with a base price of $54,045, gets standard camera-based lane departure warning and forward collision alert (available on all trims) along with text-to-voice and SiriusXM tune select. All 2014 Enclaves pick up a couple of charge-only USB ports as well.

We’re having one helluva’ winter here in southern Ontario, so I was very glad to see this capable all-wheel-drive brute on my schedule. Unfortunately, the lovely Carbon Black Metallic paint ($195) looked like crap within, oh, 100 metres of leaving the pick-up location. And so it remained for the rest of the week.

So, no classic beauty shots in this review. Which I suppose it a bit of a shame, because to these eyes, the Enclave is the best-looking of the three GM Lambda-platform sisters. It’s all about languid, flowing lines and elegant detailing. GM has done a pretty good job of incorporating classic Buick styling cues – the waterfall grille and “portholes” on the hood – without looking too patronizing. The standard HID headlamps with signature LED running lights are suitably classy.

Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick
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But my gawd, these things are big – as long and wide as a GMC Yukon. Which is good news if you have a lot of people or stuff to haul around. In our recent mid-size crossover comparison test, sister-ship GMC Acadia trumped the competition for ultimate cargo capacity, and got top marks for third-row access and comfort. But it got slammed for its cheapo interior.

Which might be the main reason for picking this pricier Enclave over the Acadia or Traverse. Granted, the Buick’s interior digs won’t worry anybody at Land Rover, but it has terrific seats and a nice organic design with some interesting details like the art-deco-ish shifter and central analogue clock. At night, a swoosh of teal ambient lighting sweeps from the door panels across the base of the windshield, adding some cool drama.

The requisite dashtop stitching is well done, and the upgraded 5.1 Bose audio (bundled with touchscreen nav and rear seat DVD for $3,250) sounds very good. Yes, the abundance of chrome-finished plastic that made the Acadia’s interior so trashy is here, but mercifully it’s done in a subtler “black chrome” finish that makes it more palatable, and less likely to attract a murder of crows.

Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick Test Drive: 2014 Buick Enclave Premium AWD car test drives luxury cars buick
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Nonetheless, there are a few clues here to the old girl’s advancing years. The 6.5-inch touchscreen is relatively puny, and in this class of vehicle we expect a proximity key and push button start. ‘Fraid not. Gotta fish the key out of your pocket and push the unlock button. And then slide the key into the slot on the steering column and… TWIST IT! How quaint. Adding insult to injury, the fob is small with tiny recessed buttons that you can’t work while wearing gloves. Not good when it’s 15 below and you have an armful of groceries.

Other omissions in this $63,120 (as tested) luxury CUV – heated steering wheel and heated second row seats.

But those are about the only criticisms I can level at the 2014 Enclave. In all other aspects it’s a very good vehicle. Okay, rearward visibility is woeful due to the pinched windows and an arse end that’s in another time zone. Standard back-up camera = good.




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).