Is Enclave Cool Enough to Lure Younger Buyers to Buick?

By Kevin Miller

01.25.2008


Buick has needed a great car- a real product hit- for a long time. Seemingly the choice of AARP members and conservative Midwesterners, the brand’s largely unexciting and un-involving vehicles were not on the shopping lists of many car buyers under the age of 50, or even 60.

Now that the stylish Enclave crossover is in Buick’s lineup, younger customers are finally starting to make their way into Buick showrooms. A friend of mine, a 30-something West Coast mom, is looking for a new vehicle in the Enclave’s category. She has test driven the Enclave and the GMC Acadia, as well as the Acura MDX and the Cadillac SRX. As she currently drives a Honda CR-V which she has been happy with , she intends to try the Honda Pilot as well. Of the vehicles she has driven so far, the Enclave is her favorite. She was quite surprised to find out that her dealership in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, has a 10 week wait on delivery of new Enclaves.

Automotive News reported this week that GM is increasing production of the Enclave, to meet demand for the hot-selling crossover. Buick is also rolling out a change in the way they allocate Enclaves to dealers. Enclaves will be allocated using a “turn-and-earn” system, which allocates more vehicles to the dealers who sell more vehicles.

Jim Bunnell, the head of Buick, Pontiac, and GMC stated that in the next three months, Enclave production will be increased. While sales were anticipated to be around 3000 per month, the crossovers have been selling at a rate of 4000 to 5000 per month. December saw sales of 4726 Enclaves. Bunnell also indicated that there will be few incentives available on the Enclave, because it is selling so well without them.

My friend’s main concern about the Enclave was the fact that she isn’t young enough to drive a Buick. Her grandmother drives a Buick (actually a pretty nice supercharged Regal GS), and she considers Buicks to be old-peoples’ cars. That isn’t an uncommon viewpoint among vehicle shoppers in their 30s and 40s, especially on the West Coast.

GM is going to great lengths to try to change that viewpoint. The stylish design of the Enclave and its nicely appointed interior truly are distinctive, attractive, and world-class. Advertisements for the crossover do a good job highlighting these features.

The fact that my friend considered the Buick Enclave, sat in the Buick, and took it for a test drive is proof that GM and Buick are succeeding in reaching out beyond the brand’s traditional demographic; previously a 30-something West Coast mom wouldn’t have typically ventured in to a Buick showroom. The fact that she drove the Enclave and LOVED it, and truly preferred it to other vehicles, is proof that the tide of consumer opinion is changing, one consumer at a time. Buick (and GM as a whole) are making world-class cars. Some of GM’s new cars are now as good as their Asian and European competitors. And some of GM’s new cars are BETTER than competetitors’ vehicles… namely the Buick Enclave and the Cadillac CTS.

The fact that there is a 10-week wait for Enclaves is telling. There certainly isn’t that size of backlog for an MDX over at the Acura dealership. So to all you hipsters who are on the fence about choosing the Enclave because you think you aren’t old enough to drive a Buick- GO FOR IT. You can change people’s perceptions, and drive the car that makes you happy at the same time.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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6 Comments

  1. Well, I want one and I’m 28 years old. If that makes me an oldster, then so be it.

  2. I think the Enclave is great, as well. What worries me about GM in this regard, however, is how they spread the peanut butter too thin. That is, they get the word that Saturn is dying, and launch a few cool products its way: not enough to revive the whole brand, but to keep it on life support. Then Buick flags, and they give it Enclave… but the rest of the lineup is still aged. Pontiac gets a GTO… but then what? I really think (realizing I am no expert and all these product planners are working really hard and have better data than I ever will) GM needs to concentrate its efforts on lead brands. Toyota has Scion, Toyota, Lexus and can pour all its resources into just the three. GM has Chevy, Saab, Hummer, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, arguably GMC… I probably missed one. Honda has Honda and Acura, etc. I think the Sloanist brand stairstep (Ch>Pon>Bui>Olds>Cad) probably made sense when each brand was focused,, but not Chevy has both Vette and Aveo, sporty Pontiac had a minivan, old-guy Buick has the hottest crossover, etc. Focus, guys! (Sorry to use that particular verb…)

  3. I’m glad to see that the Enclave has had some sales success. I think it’s an excellent vehicle, as my review showed. I almost bought one but instead opted for the additional flexibility of a minivan. Plus, the Enclave’s popularity made it difficult to get a deal on one.

  4. I have an Enclave and, so far, it’s been a great vehicle for our family. It’s the perfect size for our family of five, gets decent gas mileage for what it is, and of course it looks great. I think it may just be the best vehicle I’ve ever owned and I owned three Japanese cars before this, so I guess GM’s efforts to attract people who would normally buy Japanese cars is paying off.

  5. I drove the Enclave, drove the Lexus RX and bought the Lexus.The Lexus was more like a sports car than a crossover.

  6. There is NO Lexus that is like a sports car, so there goes any credibility you might have had.

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