Best & Worst Buick Enclave Years

In this guide, we help you pick the right Buick Enclave for you. We've spent countless hours to categorize each Buick Enclave model so you don't have to.

Choose the best Buick Enclave model year for yourself. Here is an ultimate guide that gives you an analysis of the best and worst Buick Enclave model years for you.

I’ll list the best and worst years of the Buick Enclave, offering an insightful look into this car’s performance over time.

Using a meticulous evaluation process, we’ve assessed each model year based on owner-reported reliability, safety ratings, consumer satisfaction, and several other vital factors.

We will particularly focus on the distinguishing features and prevalent issues associated with the best, neutral, and worst years of this popular SUV.

The Buick Enclave, a high-end midsize SUV, has been known for its roomy interior and smooth ride since its first model rolled off the assembly line. However, like any vehicle, the Enclave has seen some years that outshine others and some that are best forgotten.

Let’s dive into the different Buick Enclave generations to gain a deeper understanding of this.

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Table of ContentsShow

Buick Enclave Generations

Starting from its launch in 2008, Buick Enclave is continuously evolving till today. The Enclave has undergone a number of changes across its generations, boasting a fine blend of luxury and practicality.

Here is a table that displays the two generations of the Buick Enclave:

1st Generation2008-2017
2nd Generation2018-Present

We list the generations to provide individuals a better overview as there are numerous variations between generations, particularly in technology and design, and these might be the determining element for many potential buyers.

Buick Enclave Best, Neutral and Worst Years

Our rankings and categorizations consider many factors, including but not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

In the following graph, you will see the combined ratings from all these sources for each model year of the Buick Enclave.

Buick Enclave Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Now, based on our extensive analysis, we categorize the model years of the Buick Enclave into Best, Neutral, and Worst Years:

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st Generation2009
2nd Generation2018

The Neutral Years here signify the model years that aren’t particularly outstanding but aren’t laden with problems either. They represent the middle ground in the Enclave’s performance and reliability spectrum.

Factors like NHTSA recalls contribute negatively to our evaluations. The greater the number of complaints and recalls, the lower the car’s reliability is, and therefore its score will be lower.

With all these factors taken into consideration, let’s dive into the specifications of the best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Buick Enclave 1st Generation (2008-2017)

Buick Enclave 1st generation 2008 model
The 2008 Buick Enclave

Debuting in 2008, the Buick Enclave’s first generation redefined the mid-size luxury SUV segment with its stylish design, upscale interiors, and impressive performance.

However, like any vehicle, it saw its share of highs and lows over the years. Let’s take a closer look at the best, neutral, and worst years during this generation.

The Best Years: 2009, 2010, 2017

The 2009 and 2010 models brought some significant improvements over the inaugural 2008 model. Notable was the refinement of the initially problematic 6-speed transmission, resulting in smoother gear shifts and improved driving dynamics.

These models also stood out for their cozy and luxurious interiors, abundant cargo space, and a suite of safety features such as stability control, antilock brakes, and a full array of airbags, making them ideal for families and safety-conscious drivers.

The 2017 Enclave, the final year of the first generation, showcased a more potent V6 engine and an improved suspension system, providing a superior driving experience. It also showcased advanced safety technology, including forward collision alert and lane departure warning.

The Neutral Years: 2008, 2013, 2015

The 2008 model, the first of the Enclave lineup, received a generally positive response, despite initial complaints about its 6-speed transmission being hesitant to downshift.

By 2013, the Enclave received a slight design refresh and new safety technology, making it a solid choice but not a standout model.

The 2015 model year continued this trend, offering consistent performance and reliability without introducing any major innovations or improvements, hence their classification as neutral years.

The Worst Years: 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016

The 2011 and 2012 Enclaves were marred by various issues, particularly with the steering system, airbags, engine, and powertrain. Many owners reported the power steering seizing up at low speeds, leading to safety concerns.

These problems were significant enough to overshadow any positive attributes of these models, leading to their categorization as some of the worst years.

The 2014 model year saw problems with the electrical system and airbags, which affected the vehicle’s overall reliability and consumer trust.

The 2016 model year, despite some technological enhancements, was beset by transmission problems, leading to a disappointing driving experience for many owners.

See NHTSA 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 Buick Enclave recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Buick Enclave 2nd Generation (2018-Present)

Buick Enclave 2nd generation 2018 model
The 2018 Buick Enclave

In 2018, the Buick Enclave made a triumphant entry into its second generation, showcasing a complete redesign and enhanced features. The Enclave continued to impress with its luxurious interior, robust performance, and advanced safety systems.

However, like the initial generation, some years exceeded others in terms of reliability and satisfaction.

The Best Years: 2018, 2022, 2023

The second-generation Enclave kicked off with a bang in 2018. With a complete redesign, it delivered a more powerful V6 engine, improved fuel economy, and a smoother 9-speed automatic transmission.

On the technology front, it offered an upgraded infotainment system with smartphone integration and a comprehensive suite of driver assistance systems, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and an optional adaptive cruise control system.

Fast forward to 2022, the Enclave gained the highest Consumer Reports reliability score, further solidifying its reputation. With an enhanced infotainment system and expanded suite of driver assistance technologies, it offered a more engaging and safe driving experience.

The 2023 model, while still fresh on the market at the time of writing, continues this upward trend of innovation and performance.

The Neutral Years: 2019, 2020

The 2019 and 2020 Enclave models continued the success of the second generation, albeit without significant updates or improvements.

They maintained the luxury, performance, and safety that the Enclave is known for, but with a few caveats.

Notably, the 2020 model faced transmission issues, with owners reporting jerky gear shifting.

The Worst Year: 2021

The 2021 model year stands out as the worst in the second generation of the Buick Enclave. Owners reported significant service brake issues, leading to a grinding noise when applied.

Despite these issues, the vehicle remained safe to drive, but the prevalence of this problem significantly impacted owner satisfaction and the model’s overall reputation.

These issues, paired with a lack of substantial improvements or innovations, contribute to the 2021 model year being categorized as the worst year of the second-generation Enclave.

Buick Enclave Average Resale Values

Buick Enclave Average List Price

The following graph is a visual representation of the average resale values for the Buick Enclave across different model years. It is essential for observing how list price changed over the generations and model years.


As we shift gears from the detailed analysis of the Buick Enclave’s model years, we hope this guide has proven informative and insightful. Be aware of the worst model year problems and best model year features to make informed purchasing decisions.

Now, what are your thoughts on our categorization? Do you own a Buick Enclave from any of these years, and does your experience resonate with our findings?

We encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.