Monday, September 2, 2013

First Drive: 2013 Buick Enclave

At the 2006 North American International Auto Show, General Motors debuted a concept SUV that utilized GM Lambda platform. This car became the Buick Enclave. The Lambda platform is utilized by the Saturn Outlook, GMC Arcadia, and the Chevrolet Traaverse. The Buick Enclave went on sale in 2007 as a 2008 model. The Enclave replaces the Buick Rendezvous (a mid-size crossover SUV), the Buick Rainier (mid-size SUV), and the Buick Terraza (minivan). The Buick Enclave is a front engine full-size luxury crossover SUV that comes with either front-wheel drive (standard option) or four-wheel drive (a $2,000 option). The Enclave comes with three rows of seats. The Enclave can come with either seven seats or eight seats. At the 2013 Houston Auto Show, I took a Buick Enclave for a test drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission available for the Enclave.

The Buick Enclave has below average styling for a crossover SUV. It has some characteristic lines that start from the grill to the back of the vehicle. I am not a big fan of the Buick grill. It is just parts that go vertical, nothing special. This is suppose to be a luxury crossover, it is suppose to be easy on the eyes, but the Enclave is not a pretty car to look at. It shares the same body style as the Chevrolet Traverse. The GMC Arcadia has some characteristics to its styling and GM should have added some uniqueness to the Enclave's styling. While I do not like the exterior, the interior is a different story. While the base cloth seats, it does come with a rear power liftgate and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. But for $4,015 extra, you can go with the Enclave leather group. This package includes leather and wood trim, which gives the Enclave a luxurious feel. The driver and front passenger seats are heated. The driver seat has power recline with memory presets for two drivers. The seats are comfortable. I have good legroom and headroom behind the wheel. If you want more features, there is a premium group trim level. The version I drove came with the premium trim and it had a luxurious feel to it.

The Buick Enclave is powered by a 3.6L V6 engine that produces 288 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 112 mph. The Enclave is a big vehicle and has that big vehicle feel. Yet it feels quick for a full-size crossover SUV. During my test drive, I outran and Ford Mustang 5.0 GT. The Enclave has a good drive quality. It is quiet inside the vehicle. The Enclave has a smooth ride and it responds nicely when I turn the steering wheel. This gives a good driving experience for a full-size crossover SUV, even if it is not the most exciting vehicle to drive. Prices for the Buick Enclave start at $39,665, that includes a $925 destination fee. The version I drove, a FWD Enclave with the premium trim level starts at $47,240, which includes a $925 destination fee.

Overall, the Buick Enclave is a good family vehicle. It has three rows of seats. This is very suitable for a family with two to five children. It makes a good road trip vehicle. Even though there are other vehicles in its class with more powerful engines, the 3.6L V6 engine still provides good power. I outran a V8 Mustang in the Enclave. In addition to solid power and performance, the Enclave has a good ride quality. It is quiet, smooth, and comfortable to drive. But it is not worth the $40,000+ price tag, especially when the base trim level comes with cloth seats. I think that the base trim should start around $33,000. The leather trim Enclave should start at $37,000 with the premium trim going for around $41,000. Other than it being a few thousand dollars overpriced, it is still a good family vehicle. I have driven the Buick Verano, Buick LaCrosse, and Buick Regal. Buick has improved in terms of luxury. The overall Buick styling can improve, but the overall ride quality and comfort for the LaCrosse, Verano, and Enclave are very good. Buick needs to soften the ride for the Regal. It was too rough and uncomfortable to sit in.

Next time, I review the 2013 Buick Encore.

Photo was taken by a digital camera.
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