A silver 2022 Buick Enclave is angled left parked in front of a modern building.

The Evolution From Concept Car to Captivating Crossover: GM’s Buick Enclave

With the news that the 2022 Buick Enclave is arriving with a bold, fresh design, new tech, and upgraded features, I thought it would be interesting for us to take a look at the journey this crossover SUV has taken since its introduction as a concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in 2006. By doing this, we see the progression of the first Lambda vehicle from its origin to the current iteration, a stylish family vehicle capable of competing against Europe’s most luxurious vehicle offerings like the BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

In The Beginning…

Before the Enclave came into being, there was a succession of mid-size and full-size SUVs – the ones most closely linked to the Enclave being the Buick models Terraza, Rendezvous, and Rainier.

The Buick Terraza was a mid-2000s luxury minivan version of the vehicle design that would later become the Enclave, in competition with the likes of the Saturn Relay and the Chevrolet Uplander. It was definitely plainer in design, looking more like older vans, with simple lines and nothing whatsoever to make it stand out as the luxurious SUV that families would seek out later.

The Buick Rendezvous, on the other hand, was an early to mid-2000s mid-size crossover SUV, a more sporty and stylish design than the plain Terraza. It also carried forward the distinction of being the largest carrying capacity Buick since the Roadmaster Estate station wagon, one of the ’90s Buick family vehicles that were later phased out in favor of SUVs.

The final predecessor was the Buick Rainier, a mid-2000s mid-size SUV with a bit more style than the Terraza, and less sport than the Rendezvous, a happy medium with quality upgrades like the QuietTuning insulation now used in the Buick Enclave. This, however, was not enough, and, eventually, it went the way of all previous models, which allowed the Enclave to make a splash by becoming the very first Buick to utilize the Lambda platform.

The black interior of a 2022 Buick Enclave shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

What Is the Lambda Platform?

The Buick Enclave is not the only vehicle in the GM line that utilizes the Lambda platform, but it is the first Buick to do so, starting with the original Enclave model sold in 2007. The Lambda platform took its inspiration from the previous Epsilon design and was a successor to the Theta platform, the first to be used for Buick’s crossover vehicles. The underpinning architecture is where the chassis, suspension, and steering come together to create the base for each vehicle. Oftentimes, there is a single platform used for a variety of models, like the Lambda, which was not only used for the Buick Enclave, but the Chevrolet Traverse, Saturn Outlook, and GMC Acadia as well, though not for every generation.

The Lambda platform is noted for roominess, allowing plenty of room for three-row seating and storage space, its four-wheel independent suspension system, and both front and all-wheel applications. Its full-size capability provides a perfect platform for crossover SUVs like the Enclave while maintaining a unibody of welded steel that doesn’t compromise on safety. Of course, continual improvement and a need to stand out from the competition mean that platforms don’t remain the same for very long, and the Lambda has had to make way for a new and improved platform that has underpinned the Buick Enclave since 2017, the C1XX platform.

The C1XX Platform

Since 2017, the Buick Enclave has had the C1XX underpinning, which is a bit more flexible than the previous Lambda, as it allows for two or three-row seating, depending on whether you’re looking for a mid-size or full-size luxury family vehicle. This change allows for fewer platforms to be used, as the Theta/Epsilon platform was used for the regular wheelbase models, and the Lambda platform was for full-size crossovers. Like the Lambda platform, it also includes the four-wheel independent suspension system and front and all-wheel drive. So what makes this better for the Buick Enclave? Instead of catering to one family size, this platform allows a wider range of flexibility, whether you need a cozier seven-seater or roomier eight-seater for the ideal weekend getaway or summer family road trip.

A red 2022 Buick Enclave is shown from the front parked in front of a modern building.

What Else Is New for the 2022 Enclave?

Along with the previous platform change, the next Buick Enclave will be a fresh take on the crossover SUV – with an updated design, improved tech, and special features in the Enclave Avenir that make it perfect for a more luxurious family-style ride.

New Design Features

While the older Enclave models were rather plain with flat exterior surfaces and minimal curves, the 2022 model is sharper and sleeker. The cutting-edge lines make it stand out from the crowd, whether it’s parked at the new upscale restaurant in town for a family dinner or driving on the highway toward a family vacation. It also comes in a wider variety of colors for those who want more exciting choices than your standard options of black, white, and gray. I particularly love the Emperor Blue Metallic shade, a bold but subtle hue somewhere between royal blue and navy, with a shimmering veneer that evokes richness and power.

Tech Upgrades

Connectivity features in the 2022 Buick Enclave include wireless compatibility with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto, along with wireless charging so that you never have to buy another cord to replace the ones that always disappear when you need them. With an available wifi hotspot that can handle up to four phones or tablets, there’s never a need to bring extra entertainment, leaving more legroom and promoting a quieter, more peaceful ride for the entire family. Just remember to bring headphones.

The Buick Driver Confidence Plus has become standard, along with a hands-free liftgate for when those suitcases, groceries, and all the sports equipment keep your hands full. With the Avenir, you can also get Rainsense wipers for driving through rain, sleet, and snow.

Tour the Interior of the Avenir

The Enclave Avenir has the optional additional comforts that make this such a luxe ride. The first and second row of seats are leather, and there’s heating available for the front seats and steering wheel. For those who want even more, there’s another optional package that includes front seats that actually massage driver and passenger, keeping people comfortable for longer periods of time. With its brushed-chrome, leather, and wooden tones, along with a sunshade, skylight, and moonroof, the inside of the Avenir is top of the line for comfort and style. It harkens back to older luxe models from several decades ago, with plenty of space for passengers, cargo, or a combination of both with the ability to still enjoy the fresh air and a beautiful view.

From Concept to Ultimate Comfort Ride

The family vehicle has come a long way, even from the early 2000s, each model attempting to become the ultimate comfort ride for families on the go. I believe we’ve reached a milestone with the 2022 Buick Enclave, though, of course, the pinnacle always seems to be reached by the latest edition, model, or design. There’s no telling what they’ll change with the next generation of Enclave or whether they’ll do away with it altogether, but I hope they keep some of the highlights of this particular model and simply build atop a great platform.

I do think we should appreciate where we’re at in this moment, with the technology to provide heated massages, a wifi hotspot, safety features to protect every single family member, including the furry ones, and a design that definitely stands out in a crowd while giving the most comfortable ride possible. Whatever comes next, in my opinion, the Enclave will remain a high point for Buick.