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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Buick Enclave

The Buick Enclave is the GM brand's large family utility vehicle. As a crossover that can seat up to eight passengers in three rows, the Enclave is a relative of the Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia--and by extension, the now-discontinued Saturn Outlook and Saab 9-4X.

Buick introduced the Enclave at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show as the effective replacement for its aged Terraza minivan and Rendezvous crossover. A much better-looking, much more satisfying effort, the Enclave immediately earned kudos for its handsome styling, which might be our favorite of all the big GM crossovers, just slightly ahead of the GMC Acadia and a few well-detailed steps ahead of the more plain Chevy Traverse. Curvaceous fenders and glamorous detailing are matched inside by a subdued, luxurious design.

In its first year of production the Enclave was fitted with a 275-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. With this combination, the vehicle offered decent acceleration and a reasonable fuel economy of 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. For 2009, the engine in the Buick Enclave was upgraded with direct injection technology and offered up to 288 horsepower.

The Enclave still gets the same 288-horsepower 3.6-liter direct injected V-6. Fuel economy still comes in at 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, according to EPA estimates, although real world figures are likely to be worse, based on our experience. The Enclave also comes standard with front-wheel drive but is available with an optional all-wheel-drive system.

In standard form the Enclave comes with seven seats divided over three rows, with two captain's chairs located in the second row. The third row is notably a real third row and not there only for advertising purposes. There's almost 19 cubic feet of additional storage space behind this third row, plus, maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds.

Crash scores have remained excellent even as testing criteria have changed. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick; the NHTSA gives it five stars overall, with a four-star rating for front and a five-star rating for side impacts.

Pricing starts in the mid-$30,000s, which is substantially cheaper than comparable vehicles like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML but pricier than its Lambda-based siblings and the Lexus RX 350.

The Enclave received a light update for the 2013 model year, with upgraded infotainment features, a new grille, and some new interior trim, as well as improved struts for better ride control and new programming for its automatic transmission to relieve some gear-hunting. Prices are up slightly on the 2013 Buick Enclave, but equipment on the base model was substantially improved. 

One note for buyers: the Enclave's former trim levels have been deleted. Now, customers simply choose option packages that add on features like a rearview camera, parking sensors, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system

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