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2018 Buick Enclave

2018 Buick Enclave

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Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios and to AAA Midwest Traveler magazine's online Web Bonus.

The 2018 Buick Enclave is wonderfully spacious, boasting in our test vehicle enough room for seven passengers and a gremlin -- that last guy of the electronic variety.

The gremlin was a push-button parking-brake release that wouldn’t release. After countless button pushes and two walk-away-and-try-again attempts to release the brake, we called the folks at OnStar, who were great. They readily agreed to send the cavalry in the form of roadside assistance.

While waiting, I decided to try one more time a trick I’d already attempted twice to no avail: I walked away from the car, waited a few minutes, returned, started it up, and hit the release button.

Hey, it worked! -- although the gremlin convulsed: in rapid succession the brake released-engaged-released-engaged-released-engaged until I jumped off the brake pedal, which must be depressed to release the parking brake. The release held.

I called OnStar and canceled the cavalry. I also never engaged the electronic parking brake again.

All that said, I’m convinced that, once a Buick dealer -- under warranty, of course -- made the parking brake get its mind right, this Enclave would be a delightful partner in a long and beautiful relationship.

For starters, Enclave, available in base, Essence, Premium and Avenir trims -- that last one a new Buick sub-brand -- is better looking than a crossover has a right to be. A new grille, highlighted by a centered Tri-Shield logo that’s flanked by chrome wings, is just the start of this guy’s charm. Blacked-out B- and C-pillars, along with a dash of ebony on the D-pillar, give the profile a rakish look, aided by our Premium’s optional 20-inch chrome wheels. Even the clichéd Buick portholes get hip treatment here in the form of a chrome spear topping a vent-look.

Riding a 2-inch-longer wheelbase and stretching 2.4 inches longer overall, this 2018 edition’s interior room is sensational in the front, middle and even the three-place third row, where two adults can be effectively accommodated. And third-row access from the passenger side is marvelous thanks to a wide-opening back door and a tilt-and-scoot middle-row captain’s chair.

On the road, Enclave is a Buick -- quiet, solid, smooth and self-assured.

Regardless of trim, every Enclave -- be it front- or all-wheel drive, which is optional in all but base trim -- is powered by a 310-hp V-6 that mates to a new nine-speed automatic. That combo was up to the task of confidently moving our AWD Premium.

erhaps surprisingly, there’s even a bit of sportiness in the form of paddle shifters for the nine-speed, along with a mode button for the AWD system that engages just the front wheels for slightly enhanced mpg.

Our Premium’s leather-and-wood cabin was sumptuous while its infotainment was easy to use, the touch screen offering menu icons on top and, down low, icons specific to the menu displayed for easy navigation.

The radio’s volume knob was appreciated, as would have been a tuning knob, which -- alas -- was AWOL. Much appreciated were steering-wheel toggles for cruise speed and radio volume, both easy to find without taking your eyes from the road.

Without that party-crashing gremlin -- who crashed our party but, likely, not many others -- this new Enclave is a joy.

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Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios and to AAA Midwest Traveler magazine's online Web Bonus.

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