takes a bold leap into the 21st century with the debut of its stunning Enclave
luxury sports utility vehicle, a strategic vehicle for Buick
's future in the premium market, and part of its multi-billion dollar new product plan.
For '08, the Enclave
is available in CX and CXL trim levels, with front-wheel drive or the intelligent all-wheel-drive system, and available in eight exterior and three interior colors choices.
A single engine is offered on the Enclave
, the competent 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing and 275-horses, mated to Buick
's first six-speed automatic transmission.
The gearbox has been engineered so that the Enclave
can be flat-towed in FWD and AWD configurations, up to 4,500 pounds when properly equipped.
When in motion, the V-6 provides a mellow exhaust tone, adequate performance off the line (0-to-60 in 8.4 seconds), as well as solid passing ability on the highways.
After putting 300 miles on the vehicle, I averaged about 2 miles less per gallon than the EPA 16 city/24 highway mpg ratings.
All models come standard with 4-wheel disc brakes, ABS, traction control and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation.
Visually, the Enclave
projects muscular proportions, with stylish two-arch fenders that flow out from the body on different planes, and the celebrated three portholes mounted on the trailing edges of the hood blend legend with hi-tech, or as Buick
puts it, 'heritage forward' styling.
The signature waterfall is accented by standard xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, with a blue ring integrated into the lighting units for a unique appearance.
Handsome rear design combines large horizontal taillights with streamline chrome roof rack rails; high-mounted stop lamp built into the upper edge of the rear window, and twin chrome exhaust outlets.
My test vehicle was the CX model with front wheel drive, finished in optional White Diamond Tricoat paint ($745), and rolling on optional 18-inch machined aluminum wheels. Standard on the upgrade CXL are 19-inch wheels, with 20-inch wheels and tires available though Buick
Starting at less than $33,000, the Enclave
as tested had a sticker of $36,260, due to additions such as, remote start, Ultrasonic rear parking assist, heated windshield washer fluid, and DVD rear seat entertainment package.
Base price of the Enclave
CX all-wheel-drive model starts at $34,790. All prices include a $735 destination charge.
Two-tone cabin was upholstered in soft touch, low-gloss light and dark Titanium Grey material. While seated behind the leather-wrapped, real mahogany wood-accented steering wheel, I found the driver's bucket seat supportive and comfortable, especially on long drives.
Also, I appreciated the front-row center console armrest that slides back and forth for personalized comfort.
A notable aspect of cruising in the Enclave
is the ultra-quiet interior, with sound-reducing elements that allowed for normal speaking level conversations between from and rear occupants. Components like acoustic-laminated windshield, laminated safety door glass, triple door seals, flat-blade windshield wipers, and strategically placed sound-deadening material help to minimize noise.
Standard 2nd row bucket seats feature GM's Smart Slide, which allows easy entry to the three-passenger 3rd row with the pull of one handle. If the need surpasses Enclave
's standard seven-seat layout, the vehicle can be ordered with a 2nd-row 60/40-split bench that can hold three occupants, for a total capacity of eight passengers.
When both rear seats are folded flat, there is 115.1 cubic feet of cargo room behind the front captain chairs, which measures more volume than competitors, like Lexus RX350, Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90.
The Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist with rear back-up camera displays objects directly behind the vehicle on the navigation system screen. Complementing the six standard air bags is GM's rollover sensing system, which activates the roof rail air bags if sensors determine an impending rollover. Enclave
s contain the key attributes that have made the brand so successful for much of its 100 years -- elegant designs; premium interiors; and new levels of power, comfort, safety, quiet and quality -- all at an attainable price.