Part two: Buick Enclave Road Test

by Kay Layne

A few years ago, if you told anyone that General Motors would have a SUV or CUV that would compete against Lexus, you would have been laughed at or place in a mental institution. Fast forward to 2008 and Buick is winning award after award for its Enclave.

2008 Buick Enclave with 20-inch Wheel

The Enclave is a full size luxury crossover that seats seven to eight people. Built on the same platform as the Saturn Outlook and the GMC Acadia, it is a massive yet stylish people mover.

On the road, the CUV surprised me with its stability and handling. I was expecting “floaty”, “land-yacht” like ride but the suspension was bang on. It stuck well in the corners considering its size, and the electronic stability system was more than adequate. Uneven, pothole riddled roads were barely noticeable.

Second-row and optional center console.

This Buick is powered by 3.6-litre DOHC V6 VVT engine that produces 275 horses and 251 pounds of torque. While that is nothing to sneeze at, this vehicle weighs almost 2 tons (2 172 kilograms) so for a lead foot like myself it was just a tad sluggish. However, compared to most vehicles its size the acceleration was quite sufficient. Transmission wise, the dual-overhead camshaft engine with 6-speed overdrive is extremely smooth.

With a fuel economy rating of 13.0 L/100 km (city) and 8.3 L/100 km (highway) for FWD models and 13.5 L/100 km (city) and 8.9 L/100 km (highway) for AWD models, this is one of the best ratings for any SUV you would find on the roads today.

The first thing my passengers noticed while being chauffeured was the complete lack of exterior or engine sound. In true luxury fashion, this large CUV is well built and insulated so that the sound system competes with nothing. (Unless you have passengers who like to sing along off key, like I did.)

Dashboard

Two posts ago, I featured an interview with Michael Burton, the man in charge of designing the interior of this vehicle. He claimed that when designing this vehicle a lot of time, money and effort was spent on creating a luxury feel. Now when talking about vehicle interiors, the words “luxury” and “North American” rarely reside in the same sentence. Well, when describing the Enclave’s interior and styling overall, the phrase “You have come a long way baby!” sums it up. I must admit that I am too young to remember Buick’s heydays but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Lots of chrome and wood tastefully clad the dashboard and gaps fit well.

2008 Buick Enclave - sliding center console.

Overall this stylish vehicle was an absolute pleasure to drive. It comes in two models the CX which starts at $40 895 and the CXL which starts at $48 295 (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price).

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