2022 Buick Enclave adds comfort, safety features and a shifter I could do without

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir

Buick’s popular Enclave family SUV gets a new face and features as the 2022 model arrives in dealerships. The seven-seat Enclave has become Buick’s flagship, with prices reaching $60,000 and competing with three-row SUVs like the Acura MDX, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and VW Atlas. The Enclave is just one of many models that saw the launch of its 2022 model delayed from the usual fall-winter timeframe due to COVID-19 disruptions of production.

The Enclave embodies Buick’s mission to straddle luxury and mainstream markets with a lineup of appealing on-road SUVs. A hit in China thanks to Buick’s celebrated history in that country, the brand revitalized its U.S. image of late by clever marketing that targets women with advanced appealing features and attractive designs. Buick’s research says it is the top mainstream brand with female buyers in the U.S.

The 2022 Buick Enclave Avenir's interior features soft, padded materials, and 8-inch touch screen.

After being associated largely with boring sedans for decades, Buick jumped on the switch to SUVs early and hard. Today, it sells only SUVs in the U.S., and a whopping 73% of its buyers were new to the brand in 2021 — best among GM brands, according to marketing manager Rob Peterson.

The Enclave is Buick’s most expensive and luxurious model. The 2022 model’s updates set the template for the brand until it joins GM’s transition to electric power in a couple of years.

Changes include:

  • Grille, hood, wheels, front and rear lights

  • More standard safety and driver assist features

  • Interior updates, particularly for the top Avenir model

  • Pushbutton shifter and center console

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2022 Buick Enclave lineup and prices

Essence: $42,800

Premium: $49,800

Avenir: $55,100

Destination charge: $1,195

Source: Edmunds.com

Interior and driving impressions

The Enclave is roomy, quiet and comfortable. Twin second-row captains seats are standard. They tip and slide for easy access to the three-person rear seat. Leg and headroom are good in all three rows of seats, even with the twin-panel sun roof that includes a power rear shade.

The Avenir is quiet on the road thanks to wheels and tires designed to minimize road noise, acoustic-laminated windshield and front side windows, and Bose noise cancellation.

Interior features include diamond-stitched leather upholstery and padded materials with contrast stitching on the dash and doors.

The 2022 Buick Enclave Avenir features leather upholstery and soft surfaces.

Buick reworked the center console to create more storage and room for a large wireless charging mat. It features a new push-button shifter. The shifter’s five buttons are in a line that parallels the vehicle’s center line. Using it never became intuitive during my weeklong test. Automakers are obsessed with reinventing shift controls to make room for storage and other features, but the Enclave’s layout, which resembles that used by Honda and Acura, doesn’t feel like the answer.

In addition to wireless charging, the 2022 Enclave also has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Avenir has plenty of power for confident driving around town and on the highway. My vehicle’s optional continuously variable suspension provided a smooth, comfortable ride.

The 2022 Buick Enclave's new center console features more storage and a pushbutton gear selector.

In addition to a wide suite of safety features standard on all Enclaves, the Avenir offers safety alert seats, a handy GM-exclusive that vibrates the driver’s seat front or side cushion to draw your attention to approaching vehicles or other impending trouble.

The ERA rates the AWD Avenir at 17 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway and 20 in combined driving.

The 2022 Buick Enclave has a310-hp 3.6L V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission.

Safety and driver assistance features

  • Adaptive cruise control

  • Automatic high beams

  • Lane keeping alert and assist

  • Pedestrian detection

  • Forward collision alert

  • Automatic emergency braking

  • Blind spot and cross traffic alerts

  • Front and rear parking assist

  • Safety-alert driver seat

  • Head-up display

How much?

Enclave prices start at $42,800 for a front-wheel-drive Essence model, $49,800 for Premium and $55,100 for Avenir. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to any model. A new Sport Touring model adds 20-inch wheels and cosmetic touches for $1,695.

Second-row of seats in 2022 Buick Enclave Avenir.

All Avenirs come with a 310-horsepower 3.6L V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission.

I tested a loaded AWD Avenir with options including the premium ride suspension, continuously variable damping, “headlights with enhanced Avenir design” and a trailering package that enabled towing up to 5,000 pounds.

My test vehicle stickered at $59,345. All prices exclude the $1,195 destination charge.

Enclave prices compare favorably to similarly equipped competitors.

2021 Buick Enclave at a glance

Base price: $43,995 (all prices exclude $1,195 destination charge)

Front- or all-wheel drive 7-passenger SUV

On sale now

Specifications as tested

Model tested: Avenir all-wheel drive

Price as tested: $59,345

Engine: 3.6L V6

Output: 310 h@ 6,800 rpm; 266 pound-feet of torque @ 2,800 rpm

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

EPA fuel economy estimate: 17 mpg city/25 highway/20 combined. Regular gasoline.

EPA estimated annual fuel cost: $2,700

Wheelbase: 120.9 inches

Length: 204.8 inches

Width: 78.8 inches (without mirrors)

Height: 69.9 inches

Passenger volume: 157.3 cubic feet

Cargo volume: 23.6 cubic feet behind third row, 57.7 behind second, 97.4 behind first, 3.1 cubic feet underfloor storage.

Curb weight: 4,685 pounds

Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds with trailering package

Assembled in Lansing

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 2022 Buick Enclave adds standard safety features and an iffy shifter