In this SUV comparison, we’re going to put the range-topping trims of the 2018 Buick Enclave and Ford Explorer shoulder to shoulder, toe to toe. Separated by a couple thousand buckaroos, these top-tier models (Enclave Avenir AWD and Explorer Platinum 4WD) should put up quite a fight—at least, that’s our hope. Here’s how the Enclave and Explorer compare.
Nearly everything about the 2018 Buick Enclave is new. But what drives the Buick Enclave is a perfectly paired 3.5L V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission. When shifting gears, the transmission never stutters, allowing the Enclave to floor it when needed. The Explorer’s trio of engines leans on a V6 that makes 365 horsepower, but it’s a marginal upgrade from the Enclave when considering fuel economy.
You’ll get about 17 city/25 highway mpg with the new Enclave, which is quite a significant upgrade from the 16 city/22 highway mpg offered in the Explorer. With a larger fuel tank, the Enclave can get you places (Roanoke to D.C., round-trip, one fill-up, three Slim Jims snapped into).
Hiccups come from the Explorer’s size and poor visibility, making parking garages a challenge for the novice SUV owner. While the optional 180-degree camera and active park assist features are helpful, they’re just Band-Aids to a larger problem.
Plus, the Enclave comes with a more robust warranty, offering basic powertrain protection for four years/50,000 miles, two years of free maintenance, and drivetrain protection for six years/70,000 miles, among others.
Both midsize crossovers seat seven passengers over three rows—that is clear. However, there’s more to the SUV lifestyle than being a chauffeur to your VIP family and coworkers.
Cargo volume is immense in the Enclave, offering a maximum of 97.6 cubic feet to the front row, which beats the Explorer’s 80.7 cubic feet by more than a few peanut shells. If you frequent Smith Mountain Lake or the numerous Roanoke trails surrounding Blue Ridge, the Enclave is the right choice. Imagine all the additional beach gear and protein bars you could haul around!
Some note that the new Ford Explorer, while spacious, doesn’t offer the same level of seat comfort as competitors such as the Buick Enclave. For example, Buick engineers have reimagined the 2018 Enclave’s seats, designing them with passengers’ tuckuses and backs in mind. Driver and passenger lumbar support is heavenly, as are the memory functions, making the Enclave a better trip-taker than the Ford Explorer.
The 2018 Enclave SUV also comes standard with a handful of unique 21st-century features that are either optional or unavailable in the Explorer, including:
- Rear Parking Aid
- Premium sound system with equalizer
- Front and 2nd-row bucket seats
- Active Suspension
- Cargo net
- Vehicle tracking software
- Acrylite headlights made of over 100 LEDs
Enclave vs. Explorer: What the Critics Think
Across the board, Buick’s SUV extraordinaire is rated better than the Ford Explorer.
- Earning “silver” in the S. News’s Midsize SUV rankings, the Enclave “offers more refinement than most competitors, boasting a first-rate cabin and solid performance.” The 2018 Explorer made the same list—at #16.
- Kelley Blue Book also praises the 2018 Buick Enclave, citing its “fresh styling, larger footprint, and a new upscale trim level” as major upgrades. Built for the masses yet detailed for those tried-and-true Buick fans, the Enclave is “designed to feel premium.” True that.
- Marty Padgett of The Car Connection finds the new Enclave to be remarkable, noting that “it’s beautiful.” Short and sweet—we like it. No such luck for the 2018 Explorer, as it garnered some unremarkable marks thanks to its poor fuel economy and meh
- The kind words don’t stop there, as critics from Car and Driver also agree that “Buick’s latest three-row ute succeeds in being a marked improvement over its predecessor in every meaningful way.”
The critics from our Roanoke Buick dealership would also chime in, but we feel a bit biased, even if the consensus stands squarely in our corner.
Build a New Buick Enclave in Roanoke, VA
Experts have their words and expertise, but what really matters is how you feel being behind the wheel of the Enclave. Come take a test drive today at Berglund Chevy Buick, and we’ll gladly show you the ins and outs of this sophisticated 2018 SUV. Just in time for the holidays, we also have new car specials and lease deals available on many 2017 and 2018 Chevrolet and Buick models. Shop Berglund and save.
Schedule an appointment by calling our Buick sales team at (540) 491-0104, or just stop by our Roanoke car dealership at 1824 Williamson Road. We are conveniently located to best serve customers in Salem, Christiansburg, and Roanoke, VA. Happy shopping!
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