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Buick Enclave Delivers Where It Counts

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On: Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 11:14AM | By: Chuck Arehart

Buick Enclave Delivers Where It Counts

When Buick first launched the Enclave nearly four years ago, it was nearly a watershed moment for General Motors. This third vehicle of the then all-new Lambda platform (preceded by the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia) was the best looking and most luxurious of the GM cross-over vehicle trio and set a tone for Buick design.

Enclave continues to deliver where it counts. The CXL-2 with all-wheel drive test vehicle was loaded with the usual barrage of luxury equipment that included heated and air-conditioned front seats, rear-view camera, remote start, Bose sound system, power liftgate, articulating headlamps (with standard high-intensity discharge lighting), and leather seating. Yet, for a sticker price just a couple hundred bucks south of $50k, you would expect power adjustable pedals and some kind of blind spot warning system or at least an integrated blind spot mirror, but those items are MIA.

GM has since updated their navigation systems, but the Enclave guides you with an older version that lacks text-to-speech functionality which you probably have on your smart phone.

The Enclave drives as good as it looks. Its 3.6-liter V6 delivers responsive power and acceleration with just enough background growl from the exhaust to make a soccer mom feel a like a bad-ass.

hen Enclave first launched, it suffered from a transmission that shifted when it damn well pleased, but its attitude has since been adjusted for the better. You can choose to put the shifter in manual mode, but there really is no need as the powertrain works so well on its own. In a mix of highway and urban driving the Enclave delivered 18.5 mpg. This writer has experienced 24 mpg on a steady road trip cruise during a previous Enclave test drive.

Nineteen-inch wheels are standard, but the test vehicle was equipped with optional 20-inch chrome rollers (a $300 option) that may have contributed to a more than expected sharpness when rolling over broken pavement. Considering its size and mass, Enclave steers and handles very well. It's always well-composed and never feels heavy or wallowy. The feel of the steering and brakes has been beefed up to communicate more feedback to benefit control.

Enclave pricing matches its luxury segment. Base models start at $35,615 and the CXL-2 trim level steps up to $44,095. The aforementioned options along with a dual sunroof ($1,400) and audio system with navigation lofted the final tally to $49,755.

No doubt, Enclave is still a great overall package. A few simple improvements would put it at the top of its class.

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