2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium review: Recommendable

2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium

2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium

We’re going to make an improbable recommendation. We’re going to recommend that owners of certain European-made crossovers recommend the 2012 Buick Enclave to friends who are thinking about buying a full-size crossover. Better yet, we’re going to recommend that the aforementioned owners consider the Enclave when their leases expire.

That it’s improbable is because at one time, owners of said Eurocrossovers wouldn’t let friends drive Buicks. However the Enclave, notably the 2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium (code named 1SN to insiders) we recently tested, is fully the peer of its trans-Atlantic rivals.

There, we said it, and it surprises us as well.

That’s not to say that our Buick Enclave AWD Premium is the same as said competitors. The Buick comes with an America personality in its ride and handling, which means it’s plusher and not as eager to carve corners as the others. But we reckon most buyers of full-size crossovers aren’t looking for three-row seven-passenger sport sedans, and for them, the Buick Enclave gives permission to buy big crossover with a three-shield logo on the grille.

Styling is a matter of taste, but the Buick Enclave lacks nothing in handsome. Its flowing body contours are eye-catching and memorable…and we mean that in a positive way. The Buick waterfall grille is the best expression yet of that Buick theme, whiles the front and rear fenders are emphasized, giving the Enclave a Coke bottle shape. There’s a stylish use of chrome—think of it as jewelry—particularly around the side windows that taper towards the rear, emphasizing a taper to the rear of the vehicle.

2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium dash

The dash of the 2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium is swathed in faux wood.

The interior of the 2012 Buick Enclave we tested matched the outside in quality and chic. There’s the right amount of brightwork and the leather is supple and smooth. The seats are softer than the typical German offering and wider, in keeping with American tradition.

The interior of the Enclave is, well, styled. The dashtop has a double wave over the instrument panel and the dash vents atop the centerstack which sweeps down from the dash and into the center console. Faux mahogany is liberally spread across the dash, on the center console and around the interior. The wood on the steering wheel, however, is the real stuff.

The center stack of our test 2012 Buick Enclave AWD Premium included an audio/navigation program. The large touchscreen system slides easily into place, much as it does on other GM products, and the nav system is just as easy to use. However, it’s puzzling how with all of the blank screen available, the audio system truncates song titles, creating song you never knew existed, such as James Brown’s Poppa’s Got a Bra.

The Enclave has plenty of elbow room. The cabin is wide for a right-crowd-and-no-crowding experience. The Enclave boasts of having the most interior room of any vehicle in its class, however that’s defined. The second row seats match the driver and front passenger seats for comfort and have the additional feature of sliding forward and aft, giving a choice of who gets more legroom, those in the second row or those in the third.