2019 Buick Enclave vs. 2018 Toyota Highlander

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/06

For enhanced safety, the Buick Enclave’s middle seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Toyota Highlander doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Enclave are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Highlander doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Enclave has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The Highlander doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

Compared to metal, the Enclave’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.

Both the Enclave and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The Enclave comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Highlander’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Enclave 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Highlander. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Highlander ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Enclave’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Highlander’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are over 65 percent more Buick dealers than there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Enclave’s warranty.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Enclave has a standard 730-amp battery. The Highlander’s 604-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 16th in initial quality. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 17th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 8th.

Engine

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The Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 125 more horsepower (310 vs. 185) and 82 lbs.-ft. more torque (266 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. The Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 15 more horsepower (310 vs. 295) and 3 lbs.-ft. more torque (266 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Buick Enclave is faster than the Toyota Highlander V6:

 

Enclave

Highlander

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

15.5 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Enclave AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander (21.7 vs. 19.2 gallons).

The Enclave has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Buick Enclave, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Highlander.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Enclave’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander are solid, not vented.

The Enclave stops shorter than the Highlander:

 

Enclave

Highlander

 

60 to 0 MPH

130 feet

134 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Enclave has larger tires than the Highlander (255/65R18 vs. 245/60R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Enclave offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

The Buick Enclave’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Toyota Highlander only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Enclave has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Highlander doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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The Enclave offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Enclave has variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Enclave’s wheelbase is 11.1 inches longer than on the Highlander (120.9 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Enclave is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Enclave uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Highlander doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Enclave uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Enclave has .3 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more front hip room, 3.1 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear legroom, .6 inches more rear hip room, 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room, 1.7 inches more third row headroom, 5.8 inches more third row legroom, 2.9 inches more third row hip room and 2.3 inches more third row shoulder room than the Highlander.

The front step up height for the Enclave is 1.3 inches lower than the Highlander (18” vs. 19.3”). The Enclave’s rear step up height is .8 inches lower than the Highlander’s (18.7” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

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The Enclave’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander.

 

Enclave

Highlander

Behind Third Seat

23.6 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

58 cubic feet

42.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

97.6 cubic feet

83.7 cubic feet

The Enclave’s cargo area is larger than the Highlander’s in almost every dimension:

 

Enclave

Highlander

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

23.8”/54”/90”

17.5”/43”/80”

Min Width

48.6”

45.6”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Enclave Premium/Avenir’s third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Enclave’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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The Enclave uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The Enclave has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Highlander doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Toyota. J.D. Power ranks Buick 9th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 23% lower rating, Toyota is ranked 17th.

Ergonomics

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The Enclave has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Enclave Premium/Avenir’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Enclave and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Enclave is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Enclave’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Highlander’s power windows’ rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

If the windows are left open on the Enclave the driver can close them all from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

When the Enclave Premium/Avenir is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Enclave has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Enclave has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Highlander.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Enclave is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because typical repairs cost much less on the Enclave than the Highlander, including $95 less for a starter, $30 less for fuel injection and $963 less for a timing belt/chain.

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