2008-2012 Buick Enclave
How to upgrade the stereo system in your Enclave
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Enclave's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about:
- The factory stereo system
- Removing the factory radio
- Removing the factory speakers
- Adding more bass
- Other options for your Enclave
Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Buick.
Overview of the Buick Enclave
Not too long ago, the idea of a big SUV carrying the Buick logo would've seemed either far-fetched or desperate, depending on how you viewed the marque's lingering identity crisis. Though Buick has long been one of America's most revered nameplates, the idea of what the brand was or who it was for got a bit hazy over the years. Thankfully, when better Buicks were built, Buick was still around to build them.
The Enclave isn't just a better Buick, it's a better SUV. From the muscular exterior to the curvy, comfortable interior, the Enclave has everything you'd expect in a Buick, plus acres of space and surprisingly decent road manners. And, thanks to luxury car-levels of noise suppression, the Enclave's cabin is a terrific place to enjoy an upgraded stereo system.
The Enclave's 2008-12 factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The factory stereo system
Even in base form, the 2008-12 Enclave was a very well-appointed vehicle. The standard stereo was a 6-speaker system with an aux input and, of course, OnStar® capability.
The high-end stereo was a 10-speaker Bose™ system with a sub. A navigation system was optional, as was a rear seat DVD system with 5.1 surround sound. Other features, including Bluetooth™ compatibility and satellite radio, were added to the first-generation Enclave prior to its 2013 revamp.
You'll lose a lot of those features when you replace the factory radio, but with the wide variety of aftermarket receivers available, you can not only get them back, but make them a lot better.
Here's a look at the Enclave's 2013-17 radio set-up (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory radio
Depending on whether your Enclave is a 2008-12 or a 2013-17 model, there are some differences in how you'll approach radio removal/replacement. But either way, removing the Enclave's factory receiver isn't at all complicated. You'll need a panel tool to pry out the dash panel, a socket wrench (see below), and a bit of patience while you're working. Everything else you need to know can be found in the vehicle-specific instructions included with your Crutchfield stereo purchase.
Putting the new one in isn't much harder, but there are a few things you'll need to do the job right. The mounting kit (included at a deep discount with most Crutchfield stereo purchases) will allow you to install a single-DIN (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) receiver in the factory opening.
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
You'll also need an integration adapter to connect your new receiver and retain the factory safety warning chimes. Thankfully, you don't have to worry about choosing the right one – we'll do that for you. Just enter your vehicle information on our Outfit My Car page, find the receiver you want, and add it to your cart. We'll show you which adapter you need, and you'll receive a big discount when you purchase everything together at Crutchfield.
Crutchfield strongly recommends that you use one of the recommended adapters. Failure to do so may result in serious injury or death. It will most certainly result in our (very) polite refusal to provide technical assistance when you call us for installation advice.
Tools needed (all model years): Panel tool, 7mm socket, ratchet, and extension
Read our Car Stereo Buying Guide for shopping tips and advice.
Steering wheel audio controls
In most cases, it's reasonably easy to retain your Buick's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with a compatible aftermarket receiver.
A double-DIN receiver fits neatly into the Enclave's dash with the help of a dash kit (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory speakers
Depending on how it's equipped, the Enclave will have up to 10 factory speakers. Overall, the process of replacing them isn't terribly difficult and the improvement in sound quality will make all the work worthwhile.
There are plenty of aftermarket speakers that will fit nicely in the Enclave, but in many cases, there aren't any speaker wiring harnesses or mounting brackets. Years ago, that might have been a problem, but not anymore. A set of Posi-Products connectors will allow you to connect new speakers without splicing, while our universal backstrap will make it easy to secure your new speakers in any location.
The Enclave's center dash speaker is reasonably easy to reach and replace (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Center dash speaker
If your Enclave is equipped with a Bose system, there's a 3-1/2" speaker in the center of the dash. It's not difficult to get to, really, but the process is a bit intricate. Complete, illustrated instructions can be found in the Crutchfield disassembly instructions included with your purchase.
This task is nothing the average DIY car audio enthusiast can't handle, but it's important to be patient and gentle when you're prying and pushing on the various plastic bits. Haste doesn't necessarily make waste, but it can make a mess that you will see every time you get behind the wheel.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, Panel tool, and 7mm socket, ratchet, and extension
The Enclave's front pillar tweeters (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front pillar speakers
The factory tweeters are mounted on the back of the front pillar trim panel, so you'll need to remove that piece to replace them.
This isn't difficult, but the process for the driver's side is a bit different than it is on the passenger's side, so pay close attention to your Crutchfield disassembly instructions.
You'll also need to use a set of universal backstraps to secure the new component tweeters.
Tools needed: Panel tool, 7mm (left) and 10mm (right) socket, ratchet, and extensions
The front door speakers aren't hard to replace, but there are some things to pay attention to while you're working (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
The Enclave's stock speakers, regardless of stereo system, are 6-3/4" units. The Bose system is pretty impressive for a factory set-up, but there's plenty of room for improvement with aftermarket gear.
A wide variety of same-size or smaller aftermarket models will fit behind the Enclave's swoopy door panels, but you may need to remove the locating tabs from the factory speaker bracket before mounting an aftermarket 6-3/4" speaker or the bracket that's included free with smaller speakers. This modification isn't difficult, and it won't affect the bracket's structural integrity.
The removal and replacement process isn't difficult, either, but there are some differences in how you'll approach each of the front doors. You'll be removing both door panels, but the driver's side door has a bit more going on in terms of window and lock controls, so the process is a bit different. Not harder, mind you, just different. The details, including some very helpful illustrations, can be found in your Crutchfield instructions. You'll want to be careful when removing the door pull cover. It's a long-ish piece of plastic and you don't want it to break, so take your time when you're prying it loose.
Once your speakers are installed, make sure they're working properly. Before you button everything up, test the door locks and make sure the speaker wires aren't interfering with the windows.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Torx T-30 driver, 1/4" socket, ratchet, and extension
Replacing the rear door speakers is much less complicated (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear door speakers
The Enclave's rear doors house a set of 6-3/4" speakers and, as with the front doors, you can replace them with aftermarket 6-3/4" or 6-1/2" models.
Depending on what you're installing, you may also need to cut off four locating tabs on the factory bracket to allow the aftermarket speaker bracket (included with your Crutchfield speaker purchase) to fit flush.
Removing the door panel is a straightforward process and it's exactly the same on both sides. You'll want to be careful when prying away at the plastic panels, of course, especially those door pull covers.
Once the panels are off (this goes for all four doors), store them someplace safe until you put them back on.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Torx T-30 driver, 1/4" socket wrench extension
You'll find 3-1/2" stock speakers behind the rear side grilles (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear side speakers
Bose equipped Enclaves also sport a set of 3-1/2" speakers on the rear side panels, back around the third row of seats. They're easy to reach and replace, since all you have to do is (carefully) pry up the grille and remove the screws that hold the speaker in place.
Tools needed: Small flat blade screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver
Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.
There's plenty of space for a powered sub, like this Sound Ordnance B-17, in the Enclave's cargo area (Crutchfield Photo)
Bass in your Enclave
The Enclave's factory subwoofer is located under the front center console, and getting to it requires an extraordinary amount of work, including the removal of the gear shift mechanism.
This is not a job for a DIY car audio enthusiast. In fact, even if you're having work done by a professional, replacing this subwoofer should not be attempted under any circumstances. Use it if you can, bypass it if you must, but definitely leave it where it is. Besides, you have other options if you want to add more bass.
Even with the third row seats up, you have a 46" W x 13" H x 18"/16" D space in the cargo area for a subwoofer enclosure. That's a lot of room to work with, so if you're all about bass, you can go pretty big if you want to.
If you love music, but still love being able to haul people and stuff in the luxurious comfort of your Enclave, there are plenty of practical solutions. A big component subwoofer in an enclosure is one way to go. If you're looking for an all-in-one solution, a powered subwoofer will give you a surprising amount of thump without taking up a sizable percentage of your storage space.
There is a storage cubby under the Enclave's cargo floor, so you might want to keep that in mind. Whether you're planning to use it or not, you can add thump and reduce rattling by lining it with sound-deadening material from Dynamat.
Learn more about building a bass system in our Car Subwoofer Buying Guide.
Other options for your Enclave
There are plenty of other ways to improve your Enclave. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help:
The Enclave's factory video screen (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The factory amplifier is located under the driver's side dash. Removing it means disconnecting the airbag harness, which is never a wise move. Your best bet is to use it with your receiver and speakers, while installing an aftermarket amp elsewhere in the vehicle for your subwoofer. Learn more about adding amps to your system in our Car Amplifier Buying Guide.
If your Enclave came equipped with factory rear-seat entertainment, you can retain that feature when you install a DVD receiver in the dash. If you don't have that feature, but want to add it, we offer a number of aftermarket video solutions that work in a wide variety of cars and SUVs.
Installing a security system in your Enclave isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's not as complicated as it could be. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional security system installer.