What to Look Out for When Buying a Used Buick Enclave


The Buick Enclave is a bit of a rarity these days as it’s an SUV that has actually got smaller over time. The Enclave has only been around since as recently as the 2008 model year, but after starting life off a full-size SUV the Buick Enclave morphed into a midsize crossover SUV for the 2018 model year. In either guise, the Buick Enclave is a vehicle that’s well worth a look so here’s what to look out for when buying a used Buick Enclave.

Buick Enclave history

The Buick Enclave went into production in April 2007 as a 2008 model year after making its global debut at the North American International Auto Show in 2006. The Enclave is built on the same GM Lambda platform as the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and the Chevrolet Traverse, but the Enclave was the first GM model to be shown using this new platform.

There are have been two generations of the Buick Enclave so far and it’s probably fair to say there are few vehicles around at the moment that have undergone such a dramatic transformation in such a short period.

First-generation Buick Enclave (2007-2017)

2009 Buick Enclave

When the Enclave first arrived it was a full-size crossover SUV with seating for up to eight people. In its standard form, the Enclave came with two captain chairs in the second row, but an optional second-row bench seat expanded the capacity of this front-wheel-drive SUV to eight seats. If you’re shopping for a first-generation Buick Enclave used it will probably be a good idea to decide right from the start which seating arrangement suits you best.

The first model year was exclusively powered by GM’s familiar 3.6-liter V-6 engine which produced 275 horsepower and was mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission. If you skip the first model year and go for a 2009 model year instead, you’ll then have the benefit of a more powerful, direct-injected version of that V-6 engine that puts out 288 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque.

A major refresh of the Enclave arrived for the 2013 model year and this is where the somewhat frumpy look was ditched for something a little more modern and stylish. The 2013 model year got a new grille and LED running lights, fog lights and taillights, and the interior went a bit more upscale too with more soft-touch materials, ambient lighting and a much-improved infotainment system.

Second-generation Buick Enclave (2018-Present)

2020 Buick Enclave

Ten years is a seriously long production run for an SUV before a new generation is introduced, but that’s how long it took GM before it gave us an all-new second-generation of the Buick Enclave for the 2018 model year.

You only have to take a quick glance at the 2018 model year to see what a huge improvement its styling was over its predecessor, especially if you compare its look to the pre-facelift first-generation models.

As well as a huge change in the way the Enclave looked, the second generation also ushered in a new place in the market for the Enclave as a midsize, more premium model than its predecessor. Instead of fighting for market share with a number of its GM stablemates, the second-generation Buick Enclave has now become a direct competitor for the likes of the Volvo XC90, Infiniti QX60 and the Acura MDX.

Second-generation Enclave’s stuck with the standard front-drive format with all-wheel-drive as an available option, but the Buick’s 3.6-liter V-6 engine now produces 310 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque and comes mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission.

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How popular is the Buick Enclave?

Enclave sales started to peak with the arrival of the refreshed first-generation model in 2013. The first model year of the Buick Enclave (2008) saw sales of 44,706 and the numbers grew steadily each year until 58,392 units were sold in 2011. Sales dropped by a couple of thousand in 2012, perhaps as a refreshed 2013 model was on the near horizon, but when the refreshed model arrived in 2013 it saw the Enclave break the 60k sales barrier for the next three years.

After the initial popularity of the refreshed first-generation’s first three years, sales fell again in 2016 and 2017 to 52,028 and 48,564 respectively. Those losses were recovered when the all-new second-generation arrived, but 2020 sales were the lowest in the vehicle’s history as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Does the Buick Enclave hold its value?

Unibody crossovers like the Buick Enclave don’t hold their value as well as traditional ladder-frame SUVs, so used Buick Enclave that’s three years old will probably cost around half of what it cost new. That sounds like a worrying level of depreciation but it’s actually only about average for the segment, and it does make a used Buick Enclave look like a tempting used buy.

Is the Buck Enclave reliable?

Before you even consider going to check out a used Buick Enclave for sale in your area you need to know if it’s going to be reliable, and I can tell you that the Enclave is about par for the course when it comes to reliability. It’s not exactly the most reliable vehicle you can buy in its class but it’s not the worst either, so it makes sense to look for a used Buick Enclave that has a good service record.

2010 Buick Enclave

Does the Buick Enclave have transmission problems?

The one issue you need to look for when shopping for a Buick Enclave used is a transmission problem. If you notice that the Enclave begins to shake or clunk while increasing speed or switching gears during a test drive you might want to walk away from that one. If this problem is going to occur it will usually be when the Buick has done around 90,000 miles, so make sure you pay particular attention to the transmission of a used Buick Enclave that’s approaching 100,000 miles.

Which Buick Enclave model year should you avoid?

The one used Buick Enclave model year you should steer clear of if you want to minimize the chances of reliability problems is the 2008 Buick Enclave. It wasn’t uncommon for owners of the 2008 Buick Enclave to find themselves with a vehicle that refused to shift out of one gear and go into the next one, but as it didn’t tend to happen until the Enclave had done more than 100k miles it was rarely covered by the warranty.

To get the problem fixed could cost as much as $3,500, but the good news is that if you are tempted by a 2008 Buick Enclave used it will almost certainly have had the problem resolved by now as long as it’s done that kind of mileage.

Are Buick Enclaves good on gas?

The EPA rates the original 2008 Buick Enclave for fuel economy at 16 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg combined in front-drive form, while AWD models were rated at a similar 16/22/18 mpg, respectively.

Jump ahead to the second generation of the Buick Enclave and things start to look a little better with the 2018 Buick Enclave (FWD) getting EPA fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined. The extra capability of all-wheel-drive only knocks 1 mpg from each of those figures.

How many seats in a Buick Enclave?

The first-generation Buick Enclave seats seven people in its standard form with the option of a second-row bench instead of the two captain’s chairs which takes the maximum seating capacity up to eight. Second-generation models are seven-seat SUVs but they have above the average room in the third row and access is also pretty good.

Is the Buick Enclave AWD?

The Buick Enclave is a front-wheel-drive model in its standard form but all-wheel-drive is available at almost every trim level. The entry-level models tend to be exclusively front-wheel-drive but an awful lot of used Buick Enclave models you’ll come across will have been upgraded to include AWD. The optional AWD system doesn’t turn the Enclave into any sort of rival to the Jeep Wrangler off-road, but it does give the midsize Buick SUV an extra element of surefootedness when driving conditions on the road take a turn for the worse.

2016 Buick Enclave

How safe is the Buck Enclave?

Even going back to its earliest models, the Buick Encore has always been one of the safest vehicles in its class. If you are looking to buy a used Buick Enclave as a family hauler, which most buyers probably will, you can rest assured that the Buick Enclave used is one of the best models in its class.

Although the likes of anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and six airbags would be taken for granted today in a new vehicle in this class, the 2008 Buick Enclave including them as part of its standard equipment was quite something at the time. Back then in 2008, the NHTSA gave the Buick Enclave a full five-star rating for overall safety and the IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick.

Those ratings stayed consistent throughout the lifespan of the first generation of the Enclave, but if the Top Safety Pick status is a big deal for you it’s worth knowing that the Buick has failed to achieve that level since the introduction of the new second generation.

Is the Buick Enclave fast?

Even though the 2009 Buick Enclave was a pretty large and heavy vehicle, the increased power of its 3.6-liter V-6 engine meant it could get from 0 to 60 mph in a pretty impressive 7.5 seconds. Second-generation models from 2018 onwards are even swifter with a 0-60 mph time of just 6.5 seconds and a top speed of somewhere around 130 mph.

Is the Buick Enclave comfortable?

In general, the Buick Encore at all trim levels is a spacious, quiet and comfortable vehicle and it has been since it went into production for the 2008 model year. Even though the second-generation Buick Enclave is classed as a midsize crossver SUV and not a full-size like its first-gen predecessor, in some ways, there’s even more room in the more recent model.

First-generation models have 36.9 inches of legroom for second-row passengers but that grows to 38.9 inches with the second-generation Enclave. The front-seat legroom is almost identical throughout the lifespan of the Enclave so far, but legroom and headroom in the second and third rows is definitely more generous in second-gen models.

The second generation of the Buick Enclave is more of a luxury model than the original Enclave, but you’ll see that illustrated by the price. The materials, features and build quality have improved since the second-generation Enclave arrived, but don’t think for a moment that first-gen models are uncomfortable because they are still spacious and comfortable vehicles.

What’s the highest level of Buick Enclave?

When the Enclave was unveiled there were just two trim levels of CX and CXL, but for a while now the top-of-the-range Enclave has been the Enclave Avenir. However, don’t go thinking you need to shop at the top of the range to get a well-equipped Buick Enclave because that’s not the case. The refreshed 2013 Buick Enclave features the likes of satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a full set of power features and cruise control as part of the standard specification at all levels.

How much should you pay for a used Buick Enclave?

You can pay as little as $3,995 for a 2008 Buick Enclave AWD CXL with reasonable miles for its age, but due to the transmission problems mentioned earlier and the more powerful engines, I’d start a search for a Buick Enclave used with the 2009 model year. Here’s a table showing the average minimum and maximum used Buick Enclave prices for all model years so far.

Model YearAverage Minimum Used PriceAverage Maximum Used Price
2008$4,999$12,500
2009$6,925$10,900
2010$6,500$12,282
2011$6,250$15,495
2012$7,000$18,971
2013$8,900$20,210
2014$10,850$22,900
2015$13,995$25,999
2016$12,997$31,990
2017$17,297$38,800
2018$25,495$43,880
2019$23,898$47,900
2020$25,770$53,950

What are the rivals to the Buick Enclave?

The Buick Enclave has a lot of competition because it tries to compete against both mass-market and luxury rivals as well as midsize and full-size SUVs. First-generation models fight for attention against the likes of the Ford Explorer, Ford Flex, Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.

If you’re interested in a second-generation used Buick Enclave then rivals you’d probably want to consider include the likes of the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Volvo XC90 and many more.

2017 Buick Enclave

How long will a Buick Enclave last?

There are plenty of 2008 Buick Enclaves still going strong so there’s no reason why a well cared for Enclave wouldn’t last for 15 years or more. The key to this, of course, is the maintenance and service history and not having done too many miles. I’d say 200,000 miles is about the limit for a vehicle of this type, so if you’re going to be doing average miles and you want to keep an Enclave for five years I’d suggest avoiding anything with more than 120k miles.

Are Buick Enclaves expensive to maintain?

The annual cost of maintaining a Buick Enclave is $720, which makes it more expensive to maintain than an Acura MDX ($571) but cheaper than a Volvo XC90 ($851). In general, the annual cost of maintaining a used Buick Enclave is about average and shouldn’t put you off buying a Buick Enclave used.

Should you buy a used Buick Enclave?

I think the strongest case for buying a Buick Enclave can be made for relatively early versions of the first generation. Those models are spacious, comfortable, capable and very affordable, and they make great low-cost SUVs for families buying on a budget. For a good deal less than $10k you can get yourself a really solid family hauler with very reasonable running costs, but the Enclave gets harder to recommend as it gets newer and more expensive.

With prices for second-generation Buick Enclave used models ranging from around $25,000 to more than $50,000, there are just too many great alternatives around for the Enclave to make sense. If you think the Buick badge is worth more than the Chevy badge on a Traverse then that’s up to you, but for the price of a late-model used Buick Enclave, some pretty sweet European and Japanese rivals probably make more sense.

Of course, if you want to try and grab yourself a used Buick Enclave or any number of other used vehicles at knock-down prices then you should check out government auctions here. As well as police cars and other vehicles being disposed of by the local and federal authorities, these auctions held all around the country also feature vehicles that have been confiscated from criminal enterprises.

Sean Cooper

Former retail auto industry professional for almost a decade and an automotive writer and journalist for the last 8 years

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