We have heard time and time again that Buick is in a renaissance. Some told us that the movement started with the Lucerne. They were misinformed dearly. The real renaissance movement began with the Enclave. Buick debuted the Enclave concept at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2006. That concept came to reality less then a year later debuting as a production vehicle at the L.A. Auto Show later that year. So the question is simple: is this every bit the car Buick claims it is? Lets find out.
The outside of the Enclave is really stunning. From the front fenders that flow into the body to the rear fenders, which pick up and flow into the rear taillights— the lines are stunning. The headlights are unique and look great both during the day and when lit up at night. The twenty-inch chrome clad wheels were met with more chrome strewn about the exterior, from the door handles to the rear taillight surrounds. Chrome was all over the exterior of this vehicle. I did have one person tell me it was a little flashy for their tastes. I however think it was tastefully done and not overdone in the least bit. The traditional Buick waterfall grille still resides in the front reminding you that yes, indeed this is a Buick. Though you might be shocked to find this out by looking around the vehicle.
Inside the stunning looks continue. Wood is literally everywhere. Well when we use the term wood we use that generously. The wood is actually plastic with only the wood on the steering wheel being real mahogany. With that said, it does not look bad. The design is aesthetically pleasing and very upscale. The center stack has an analogue clock at the top. The climate control set up and the radio/navigation is shared with the other lambda-based vehicles (Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and the now dead Saturn Outlook). The second row seats can be had in either a three-person bench seat or two captains chairs. This is a no cost option and I personally liked the captain seating option, though it is not quite as practical since you lose a seat. The third row folds flat and is standard. This is mainly a space for children though an adult could manage for a quick trip across town. The dual laminated glass keeps things extremely quite inside even on the highway. Even with the third row up you still have room for luggage or groceries. The interior—like the exterior—is definitely tastefully done.
The powertrain is shared with the other lambda vehicles as well. Equipped with a 3.6 liter direct injection V6 that puts out 288 hp and 270 ft-lb to either the front or all four wheels. The power is handled by a one-choice six speed automatic transmission, which does have a manual shift capability. The steering is noticeably boosted and is light to the touch. This is not a barnburner but it has enough power to get up and merge onto a freeway. Though I would not suggest racing your next-door neighbors Porsche Cayenne to the country club for pinks, for you will lose.
The Enclave I had was CXL-2 which is the top trim level. Equipped with every option other then the all wheel drive the sticker price rang in at $47,355 including destination. This included such options as the audio system with navigation and DVD, power sunroof with second row skylight and the twenty-inch chrome clad wheels. The navigation system is the older touch screen unit supplied by Delphi, which is DVD-based rather then hard drive based. This is a tad slower then the new hard drive based unit supplied by Alpine in the new Cadillacs. I am hoping this gets upgraded soon. Also the rear seat entertainment, which as part of the audio system package mentioned earlier, drops down from the roof that puts the screen right in the way of your rear view mirror. The newer models from GM are using dual flip up monitors on the back of the front seats. This too hopefully will be upgraded sooner rather then later. Another feature that was missing was auto up windows. Only the driver’s window was equipped with the auto up feature. In this price range that is almost commonplace and a little strange.
One of the biggest downfalls of the lambdas is their weight. They are almost obese, weighing in at almost 5000 lbs (4780 to be exact). You can most definitely feel the engine pulling all this weight around. The EPA rates the fuel mileage at 17/24 for the front wheel drive model I was in. I did manage to average 17.3 mpg in the city and did not have the chance to truly test the highway rating. These are fairly decent numbers especially compared to some of the competition.
In this price range you are deep in luxury SUV territory with players such as the Acura MDX and the Lincoln MKT, among others. The question is simple: is the Enclave a worthy competitor? I would say it is definitely a vehicle I would recommend, but it will not be for everyone. The Enclave to me feels bigger then the MDX and is really just a different personality than MKT. All three are really nice vehicles and the Enclave is definitely class competitive. While some upgrades are needed as time has passed, the Enclave is still the competitive looker it was when it made its debut.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors