2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 Buick Enclave

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Ford Explorer are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Buick Enclave doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

Both the Explorer and Enclave have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Enclave’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Enclave doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Enclave doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Explorer offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Enclave doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Explorer’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Enclave doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Explorer and the Enclave have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available around view monitors.

Warranty

There are over 48 percent more Ford dealers than there are Buick dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Enclave doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 11th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Ford 1 place higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The Explorer’s standard 2.3 turbo 4 cyl. produces 44 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 266) than the Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6. The Explorer’s optional 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 8 more horsepower (318 vs. 310) and 56 lbs.-ft. more torque (322 vs. 266) than the Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6. The Explorer Platinum’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 55 more horsepower (365 vs. 310) and 114 lbs.-ft. more torque (380 vs. 266) than the Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6. The Explorer ST’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 90 more horsepower (400 vs. 310) and 149 lbs.-ft. more torque (415 vs. 266) than the Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the Enclave:

MPG

Explorer

RWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

Enclave

FWD

3.6 DOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/25 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Enclave doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the Enclave.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Enclave (275/45R21 vs. 255/65R18).

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Enclave’s optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer ST/Platinum offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Enclave’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Enclave doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Enclave doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For greater off-road capability the Explorer has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Enclave (7.9 vs. 7.7 inches), allowing the Explorer to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The Explorer is 5.5 inches shorter than the Enclave, making the Explorer easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has 1.8 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more front hip room, .6 inches more rear headroom, .1 inches more rear legroom, 1.4 inches more rear hip room, .2 inches more rear shoulder room and 1.3 inches more third row headroom than the Enclave.

Cargo Capacity

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Explorer’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Enclave doesn’t offer automatic folding second row seats.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Explorer. The Enclave doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Towing

The Explorer’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Enclave’s (3000 vs. 1500 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Buick Enclave is only 5000 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Explorer is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Enclave. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The Explorer’s front power windows open or close 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 Enclave’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The Enclave doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its OnStar® can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Enclave’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Explorer Platinum has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Enclave doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s Active Park Assist 2.0 can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Enclave doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Buick Enclave by over five to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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