Don’t you wish you could purchase more than one vehicle when you go to a dealership? Of course, this isn’t feasible for nearly every driver, and like most, you need to narrow your search down to a single vehicle. Narrowing down your search is one of the more difficult things to do when shopping for a new car, and once you figure out what style of vehicle you’d like, the search becomes a bit easier. However, it’s at this point where you’ll find yourself stuck between two vehicles, and we’re no strangers to this. It’s our goal to teach you a thing or two about a couple of popular models, and today’s comparison gives us the battle of the 2021 Buick Enclave vs 2021 Honda Pilot.
Before we continue, it’s worth mentioning that the 2021 Buick Enclave will be costlier than the 2021 Pilot, but this doesn’t quite mean that the Pilot is the better buy. There’s more to a vehicle than the price it sports. Its manufacturer needs to prove the cost is justifiable, and the Enclave certainly meets these qualifications. As you can expect from the pricier of the two, the Enclave is generally a more powerful and feature-packed automobile, with some caveats, mind you. In a few ways, the Pilot comes out on top against the Enclave, the most notable of which comes down to fuel efficiency and some highlighted safety features that come standard. Both vehicles get you what you pay for, but not in the same way. Let’s explain.
Close, But No Cigar
Performance-wise, both the 2021 Enclave and Pilot are surprisingly similar. One closer look at the powertrain configurations, and it’s easy to see why. Inside of the 2021 Pilot is a 3.5L V6 that comes paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission, and the Enclave has an ever so slightly larger 3.6L V6 engine that also combines with a 9-speed automatic transmission. As you can imagine, this is essentially the closest that these two engines can be without being one-to-one. This can be seen as a double-edged sword as it comes with both a positive and negative for each of our contenders.
Let’s start with where the larger engine inside of the Enclave will become beneficial. The 3.6L V6 inside of the 2021 Enclave produces 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, and the smaller 3.5L V6 that you’ll find in the Pilot produces a slightly lesser 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. As you can tell, it’s not a night-and-day difference, but this is still 10.7% more horsepower for the Enclave, albeit the 1.5% increase to torque output isn’t what we’d consider noteworthy. When both vehicles are purchased with the proper packages, both the 2021 Enclave and Pilot can tow a maximum of 5,000 lbs.
Now then, how does the 2021 Pilot’s smaller 3.5L V6 become advantageous over the larger 3.6L V6 inside of the Enclave, you may be wondering? As we alluded to earlier, the Pilot is more efficient than the Enclave, but the actual difference is rather minuscule in comparison. Speaking solely about the front-wheel drive models, the Enclave gets EPA-estimated ratings of 18 MPG city and 26 MPG highway with a 19-gal tank, and the Pilot gets 20 MPG city and 27 MPG highway with a 19.5 gal fuel tank. Our recommendation is to get the more powerful vehicle if you can because you’re more likely to notice that kind of performance increase when operating the vehicle daily and will still have to fill up just about as often as you would with the less powerful Pilot.
Bigger and Better
When you purchase a mid-size SUV, of course, it means that your average sedan won’t cut it, but you don’t want or need a full-size SUV. But, that doesn’t mean that you don’t at least want a decent amount of headroom, legroom, and cargo space. Much like the performance side of things, the size of each cabin isn’t identical, but it’s a closely contested one as the headroom and legroom measurements are somewhat similar across the board.
For example, the 41-inches of front-row headroom on the Enclave is more than the 40.1-inches in the Pilot. The next two rows have headroom measurements of 39.9-inches and 37.6-inches for the Enclave, and 40.2-inches and 38.9-inches for the Pilot. As the measurement data shows, front row drivers will have a better fit inside of the Enclave, but the same can’t be said for rear-seat passengers.
Moving onto legroom in both models, we see a clean sweep for the Enclave as all three rows of seating will give you more legroom than you’d get inside of the Pilot. Starting with the front row, the Enclave has 41.2-inches of legroom compared to the Pilot’s 40.9-inches. Behind the driver, the second row of the Enclave has 38.9-inches of legroom, with the Pilot sporting 38.4-inches here. Lastly, in the third row, which is typically referred to as the tightest of the bunch, you’ll find 33.5-inches of legroom inside the 2021 Enclave, and in the 2021 Pilot, you’ll find 31.9-inches, which can make a large difference.
Having three rows of seating is beneficial in a couple of ways, whether you’re transporting between seven to eight people or if you need that extra cabin space for your cargo. This is because whenever you’re not transporting anyone but yourself or one other passenger, you can fold down both rows of seats in the back to greatly increase your cargo space. In our findings, the Enclave is far superior in this regard when both base configurations are compared together. We would like to mention, however, that the 2021 Pilot comes with a seating capacity for eight passengers, which is one more seat than you’ll get on the Enclave, but this should rarely, if ever, be an issue.
The cargo space inside of the Enclave is as follows. If every row is kept in the upright position, you’ll have 23.6 cu.ft. of space, which then more than doubles to 58 cu.ft. with the back row folded down and then folding down every passenger seat will net you 97.6 cu.ft. In the Pilot, with all seats up, you only get 18.5 cu.ft. and with the back row down, you’ll have 55.9 cu.ft. of cargo space. Not quite as much as you get in the Enclave.
Enclave or Pilot?
There’s plenty to be said for the 2021 Honda Pilot, from its wealth of safety features to its price to performance ratio, but there’s lots more to talk about with the 2021 Enclave. Between the two vehicles, it’s the 2021 Enclave that wins this contest as the overall more capable vehicle. Unlike most comparisons, the 2021 Pilot has an important job to do, and that’s to keep Buick on its toes as competition is becoming increasingly similar, with a lower price to top it all off.
In the here and now, it’s the Enclave that deserves your time, attention, and hard-earned money. We do believe that future renditions of this mid-size SUV will take a few more steps towards matching its competitors in areas where it’s lacking, notably in its standard safety features, but only time will tell. This year’s model is easily one to keep your eye on, and if you’re interested in buying one today, then visit your local Buick dealer to get started.