Sexy Enclave puts Buick back on the right road
The 2008 Enclave may well be the most significant and impressive Buick in many decades. Based on General Motors’ global Lambda platform, the Enclave features extensive modifications to ensure it is more upscale than its corporate cousins, the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia — which share the same underpinnings — and is worthy of comparison with some much-vaunted competition.
The Enclave is an incredibly refined and well-developed vehicle. It has more design presence than anything in the class and offers more features, technology, equipment and interior space at a much lower price than similar players like the Acura MDX and Lexus RX350.
Buick’s head of exterior design, Jack Folden, says the voluptuous shape of the Enclave came when several designers were “doodling” after hours one evening. The resulting combination of curves and flowing surfaces is truly dramatic, with hardly a flat surface to be found. While there are a few traditional Buick touches — like portholes, lots of chrome and a massive waterfall grille — the big, chromed 19-inch wheels and bulging fender flares are anything but.
There are design details everywhere you look, including blue light rings around the headlights that glow with the same colour as the instrument cluster lighting. The interior design is just as dramatic and, thanks to the use of soft-touch materials, supple leather, low-gloss wood and brushed aluminum trim, this is the most sumptuous Buick in decades.
The Enclave is big, six inches lower than a GMC Yukon, for instance, but just as long and wide — and it rides on a longer wheelbase. The result, combined with a lot of innovative design and work, is a third-row seat that actually holds normal-size adults. Not only is it easy to get in and out, thanks to a clever flip/fold/slide second-row seat, there is room for two adults — three in a squeeze.
The biggest surprise, after finding you can sit upright without hitting your head, is there is plenty of leg room, eight inches more than the Yukon! And because there is a footwell, your knees are down where they belong, instead of at eye level.
The Enclave is also satisfyingly quiet. There is an almost complete lack of road or wind noise at all legal speeds thanks to things like special engine mounts, acoustic laminate windshield and side windows, triple seals for doors and windows, special tires developed by Michelin and the use of sound-absorbing foam to fill the hollow space in the side pillars.
The engine is the most powerful normally aspirated six-cylinder ever offered by GM. The 275-horsepower, 3.6-litre V6 is paired with a six-speed automatic, enabling it to deliver a rated 13.0 L/100 km city and 8.3 on the highway. The all-wheel-drive version has a slightly lower 13.5 city rating and 8.9 highway figure.
The Enclave is available in front-drive or all-wheel-drive form in two trim levels: CX ($40,895) and CXL ($48,295). Add $3,000 for all-wheel-drive.
2008 Buick Enclave