Buick Enclave review

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Well, most people would agree, the Enclave does look great in person. It’s actually quite a turnaround for Buick. It does look expensive without being cheesy. It kind of reminds me of an American Audi Q7. And just because it’s American, it is a bit bigger too.
And not afraid of a chrome grille.


The interior is really nice. A few things bother me. Mainly the really fake looking “fake wood” everywhere except on the steering wheel (where for some reason, it is real…)
The designers did a great job giving the interior a great personality. It is very modern with a touch of retro. Which I think is perfect for Buick.
The seats are comfortable and the Bose stereo in my test model ( A top of the line version) sounded quite amazing.
There is an iPod plug. But in a car like this one, they should have iPod integration through USB.

There is plenty of room in the rear seat, and it’s even OK in the 3rd row.
Fit and finish is almost perfect. A couple of very small details, like chrome bits ends, were just a bit off. But I could find that in pretty much any car, because I am picky.

For a big car, the doors didn’t sound that great. They didn’t have that amazing solid sound that most European cars have when you close them. Not tinny. Just not that great.


The ride was actually a bit on the firm side.
Which was kind of surprising after driving such smooth “average” sedans like the Malibu.
I mean, a Buick… It was in no way uncomfortable, just not a carpet ride. And much firmer than a Lexus Crossover.

But it is super quiet , at any speed.

Steering is as light as you’d expect. But it is also precise. And the big car seems like it “turns on a dime”.
It basically feels like a car. It never feels like a big SUV.

The 3.6 Liter V6 sounds great, whenever you can hear it. But I was surprise of the lack of pick up at take off. There doesn’t seem to be much power under 2500 RPM. Which is almost strange. Again, in a Buick, I didn’t expect to push it to feel some power.
Once you get going, it’s more than adequate.
Mileage was, I’m afraid to say, quite disappointing.
I only did around 16MPG in a mix of about 65% city driving.( even hard to keep it at 14 in just city driving)
Sure, it holds more people and cargo than a mid size car.
But most people in this country don’t need more than 5 seats and a large trunk.
The Ford Flex I drove for a day a few weeks ago averaged almost 18MPG in similar driving.
So I guess 16 isn’t that bad for such a large and heavy car.
Still. Most people will think twice.

The 6 speed auto was smooth and pretty quick to downshift. What can I say. It worked pretty much as you’d expect.

Well.. My car was a loaded AWD model priced at over $46 000. No matter how you slice it, that is a lot of money.
And really a lot for a Buick. A brand that has had a pretty bad image for decades.

And although my test car was over $46 000, you can get a well equipped Enclave for much less. If you can find any credit, that is…
But it is a really nice car. It drives great, looks really good and it really was a pleasure to step into every day.

Until my last day of the week that is…

Something happened. Something I had not experience for many years. Not since I was driving $500 20 year old clunkers.
I parked the car in my street one evening. And the next morning, it just wouldn’t start.
So, sure. I pushed the Onstar button. (For once I get to use it right?)
All they could tell me is that, as far as they could figure out, my car was OK and that I should call my dealer for a tow truck…

Of course, I didn’t, really.
The people from GM you lent me the car in the 1st place came and got it.
I have no idea what was wrong. It has been a couple of weeks. I am still trying to find out.

I know things happen and they actually don’t mean much. iPods can go back after a week too.
It’s just really annoying.

The Enclave is really a very nice car. But like most cars sold in this country, it is pretty much out of touch with current times.
The market is changing so fast.
High gas prices and the “credit crunch” are car makers worse enemies. And cars like the Enclave, no matter how good they are, will pay in the market place.

A great car for the wrong times. Like many others….

Conversation 19 comments

  1. Vince: Was this an 09 with the new 3.6L DI engine? Surprised you mentioned limited low-end torque.

  2. wife has the GMC Acadia the sister to the Buik with same drive train. She gets 19 to 23 Mpg depending on mix of driving. I really like this vehicle as large and safe family mover makes it worth the extra in this day of cell talkers and people who read books while driving. Mass and size = plus the 5 star cradh rating with airbags everywhere equals protection. I would like the 6 spd to shift a bit smoother and am told they have a software upgrade as mine is an early 08 model.

  3. I agree with your summing up Vince, and I think its sad that Gm really did a lovely job on this car only to have the whole global economy turn against them.

  4. I was also surprised by the low end torque.
    As far as mileage go, the best I could get on the freeway was about 23mpg. Cruising. I have no idea how anyone could average 23 in mix driving.
    I always try to get the best numbers out of these cars. So I never drive that fast.

  5. Great review, thanks Vince!

    I have to agree- all that orange plastic “wood” on the dashboard doesn’t do anything for the car- in fact, it’s a detriment. You’d think for a $46K car they’d put in real wood all around.

    I think the dash nav screen needs to be bigger.

    Any thoughts on how this will compare to the Flex, which, IMO, has a much nicer interior, and will be killer with the new Ecoboost.

  6. Both the Flex and Enclave have a very nice interior.
    And both are well made and put together. But their personalities are very different, so I think it’s a matter of choice.
    I personally liked driving the Flex a bit better because it seats lower, and I’m not a fan of high up SUVs.
    I think the Eco Boost will add more power. Not sure if it use that much less gas.
    They claim you’ll be able to get V8 power with V6 gas mileage, that’s all.
    The Flex doesn’t need more power.
    All it needs is better mileage.

    They should figure out how to get the same power with a smaller engine.

  7. Why does GM put the ipod connector so high up on the dash ? it looks tacky !! Its like a tv plug up by your celing and always having to look at the cable hanging ! it needs to be near a cubby hole that the ipod will rest in so ya dont have to stare at the stupid cable all the time. Also GM if your gonna have ipod intergration ya better have a spot for the ipod to rest at safely and not sliding all over the place or just hanging off the center console or resting on a seat, Its just little things like attention to detail that always pisses me off.

  8. It was funny to me that your car didn’t start the following morning. It was not funny to my coworker. He bought one last year and 2 months into ownership, the car suddenly couldn’t start 3 times in 2 months. The car was towed to the dealership and of course they couldn’t find any problem because the car would start at the dealership. It was his wife car to shuttle around their three kids. He took it to Honda and tried to trade it in for an Oddy. However, the trade in value was so low that he was actually ‘upside down’ on the loan so he walked away.

    He has not have any major problem since but he is nervous that his family would get stuck somewhere unsafe.

  9. Nice vehicle, Nice finish, Nice quality, But you experienced first hand the reliability. That is why they are going down the drain.

  10. Agree, get vehicle, wrong time. Now Volt that is another story. The economy will come back. At 80+ a barrel hopefully we have learn our lesson, but, probably not.

  11. I think with the Flex, Ford would be better off if they use the eco-boost to marke the car with “V6 power and 4-cylinder gas mileage.”

    That would be awesome.

  12. I find it shocking that any automaker chooses to put fake wood in a vehicle. Does it appeal to anyone? It’s just so nasty, and I’ll never own a car that has it. A few years ago, I was torn between an Accord and a Mazda 6. Because I needed a car right away, I had decided on the Honda because I knew the dealership was a good one. But because all they had on the lot were Accords with faux woodgrain instead of the silver finish, I decided on the Mazda. Which, btw, ended up being a really great car. The design of the Enclave interior looks really great, but in a $40k-plus car, there is no excuse to have the fake stuff.

  13. I agree, it is a very decent vehicle but who would risk buying a car from a company that possibly could be bankrupt within a year from now? I like GM’s vehicles but I wouldn’t touch one lately knowing that they could be practically worthless in the used market in a couple years (even worse than they are now if you can fathom that).

  14. *COUGH* American Crap *Cough* ????

    what is wrong with this nation???
    No wonder we are in free fall with people like this

  15. How about we get Jeremy Clarkson and the top gear team to test drive this. Im sure he will love it.

  16. I’m not a fan of the light colored fake wood, but I think it’s a nice design over all. The ipod input should be inside the center console or something. I think an actual iPod USB connect would be overkill as standard since not everybody uses Apple products to play their MP3s, but an option would be nice.

    I’m surprised about the non-start (and more than one report). Maybe it’s a fuel pump issue? BMW 135s/335s have had a similar problem.

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