2008 Buick Enclave Review

By Brendan Moore

03.17.2008

Boy, am I conflicted.

I really like the Buick Enclave. It’s comfortable, it’s chock-full of all sorts of nice stuff like leather and a great stereo with OnStar and XM radio and a backup camera. It handles and brakes pretty well, and it does those things very well considering what is. It is very attractive inside and out – I love the way it looks.

Everything it’s supposed to do, it does well. And, jeez, is it good-looking.

But it’s really big. No, not as big as a Lexus LX behemoth or a Cadillac Escalade, but still big, especially when you’re next to the plebes in their regular-size cars. This feeling of large-ness and excess largess is amplified by the fact that you’re a lot higher up than those cars. And the fuel mileage of the Enclave is tough to rationalize. I was driving the Enclave that GM loaned me for week all over, around town, to the office, etc. and never got better than an average 11 mpg. That was being pretty light-footed on the accelerator. I took it on a couple of 100-mile trips and got the average for the week up to 16 mpg after I coaxed 19 mpg out of it on those trips. Now, admittedly, I was moving along at a sustained 70 MPH on the highway, so it would make sense that I did not equal the 22 mpg the EPA says the Enclave gets for highway fuel economy.

I realize people use vehicles like the Buick Enclave to run errands around town and plenty of people use them as commuter vehicles, driving themselves to work every day and driving back home at night – by themselves again. But, really, it’s a lot of iron for just one person. You will use up a lot of gasoline moving yourself around in a vehicle like this. You can do a lot better in terms of a gasoline-burned to miles-driven ratio.

OK, that said, this is a wonderful vehicle for carrying around multiple people and their stuff. If I had infant triplets or three teenage daughters that played on a field hockey team I was always carting around, or even if I were traveling somewhere far away on a road trip with some other adults, the Buick Enclave is the thing that I would want to drive. I’d be grabbing the keys to this thing and hitting the highway.

Everything is so quiet and buttery-smooth in the Enclave – the 3.6 liter, 275 HP V6, the six-speed automatic transmission and the full-time AWD system. Yeah, that’s right, I do love it like that in a luxury vehicle.

The Bucik Enclave CXL AWD I drove had an MSRP of $44,950 after ladling on every option available after the base price of $36,255. The “base” Enclave CXL AWD starts out very nicely-equipped, but the extra money bought the following extra options:

Entertainment Package #4

– Touch Screen Navigation

– DVD Rear Seat Entertainment

– Rear Seat Audio Controls

– Bose Speaker Sound System

– Rearview Backup Camera

19” Chromed Wheels

Power Sunroof with Second Row Skylight

Luxury Package

– Heated Outside Mirrors, Power Folding w Turn Signal

– Steerable Headlights

– Power Tilt and Telescoping Steering

– 110 Volt Power Outlet

Driver Confidence Package

– Remote Start

– Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist

– Heated Windshield Washer Fluid

Sweet, huh? It really is a wonderful place to spend a lot of time in with your family and/or friends.

Would I buy one? No, but I am by myself almost 100% of the time when I am in the car. My wife works, the kid’s in college, I don’t do the tailgating thing at sports events and I never call up three or four of my closest friends and say, “let’s drive somewhere that is 500 miles away, all of us in my vehicle”. Never happens.

BUT, if I actually needed a vehicle like this, this is the one I’d buy. It’s very impressive, and did I mention that it looks great?

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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9 Comments

  1. I looked at the Enclave, drove it, and I like it too. But I am very nervous about trusting GM quality. I’ve never owned an American car but of course I’ve heard the horror stories from people I know. And I know people say that GM quality has really improved over the last few years and Buick is really good in terms of reliability, but I’m still nervous.

  2. Buick has great quality, the equal of Lexus. Don’t be nervous. GM is back.

  3. I heard good things about the Enclave and finally got to sit in one. My head hit the ceiling thanks to the sunroof. Such a big car, so little headroom. I’m sticking with our 9 year old Buick Park Avenue. Plenty of head room, quiet, comfy, huge trunk, never less than 20mpg in town, and 29mpg on long highway trips. (real mpg, not the optimistic dashboard display mpg!) Reliable too.

  4. Buick is contantly ranked among the top five in JD power

  5. Terry, I wouldn’t be too pent up about it. Thanks to the diversification of the auto industry, each automaker (no matter how great the press) makes great cars and not-so-great cars.

    Even Toyota is having a bit of a quality slip these days, and not many will remember that Honda stumbled a bit around the turn of the century (especially that dratted 5-speed automatic).

    The important thing is that you get something that’s pleasing to you. I know it’s anathema to say this, but when you’re in love with a car, the quality stuff matters less.

    These Lambdas are all unproven in terms of durability, but they’re well assembled and the High-Feature V6 carries a good pedigree.

    The Enclave is a happy-sappy-romance kinda vehicle. You either love it or you LOVE it. It looks like a gigantic men’s grooming kit on wheels. Paul Bunyan keeps an Enclave on his bathroom counter; he uses the waterfall grille to trim his beard.

    The truth is, cars are like wine. Buy what you like.

  6. I was going to replace my GMC safari with one of these, until
    I sat in one and saw how big is was. I have trouble with my safari
    in the city I live in, and realized
    the enclave just was too big for the city. Unfortunity, GM does’t
    make a smaller 3 row vehicle, so I’ll just keep the safari or maybe buy a flex, if thats samller

  7. “It looks like a gigantic men’s grooming kit on wheels. Paul Bunyan keeps an Enclave on his bathroom counter; he uses the waterfall grille to trim his beard.”

    That’s good.

  8. I agree with the author that it’s not a great city car due to it’s largess. I personally wouldn’t want to drive it every day, but I’m more of a sport sedan guy myself. However, my wife loves it and we just put an order in for one. She currently drives an ‘original’ Honda CR-V which is a great city SUV. However, we now have one child and make frequent road trips over the Cascade mountains with golf clubs, coolers, bikes, etc. and find the CR-V wholly inadequate for space even for just us 3. For our driving habits, it makes a lot of sense. Major selling point for us is that it uses regular unleaded too, nice with today’s escalating gas prices (uh-hum MDX, RX350, FX). And, it is very nice looking!

  9. When I first read about the enclave, I was so excited. Then I was amazed when lucikly on a business trip, Hertz gave me one! I ended up NOT liking it AT all. BIG. POOR MILEAGE. Terrible sounding engine. Spongy ride. Putting it in park, the car then still rolled a bit before stopping (I thought that was a thing of the past?). No doubt this will satisfy 70+ year olds. Not me.

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