For sure, Buick is going to move a ton of Enclaves on appearance alone. Okay, maybe the nose is as prominent as Karl Malden's, but this seven-passenger rig knows how to dress for the party.
Under the hood, a DOHC 3.6-liter V-6 delivers a sturdy 275 horses through a six-speed automatic and, on our top-model CXL test car, optional all-wheel drive. For relaxed motoring, the powertrain feels up to the job, revving with a pleasing note and cruising with refinement. Unfortunately, the six has to move around a whopping 5077 pounds, a curb weight topped in our test only by the Land Cruiser. Climbing steep, wriggling Highway 18 to Lake Arrowhead, the Enclave strained (a V-8 is said to be coming in a year or two). Shifting with the electric manual selector helped--and made driving through our handling loop more fun--but the pushbutton is inconveniently mounted on the shift column.
The variable-effort steering telegraphs little in the way of tire information, the engine turns coarse, and the sheer, shifting mass constantly hints that you should be looking for thrills elsewhere--though, in fairness, the Enclave remains poised and holds its line through turns.
The spacious, well-insulated interior is dressed in neatly tailored leather, camphor burled wood trim, and copious electronic conveniences. Worthy of special mention are the brilliant SmartSlide second-row captain's chairs that easily flip completely out of the way for access to the rear bench. This is a cabin worth fighting to ride in.
Given a diet (or more power) and zestier handling moves, this new Buick could be a stronger player.
| 2008 Buick Enclave |
| Base price range|| $32,790-$36,990 |
| Price as tested|| $44,245 (CXL AWD) |
| Vehicle layout|| Front engine, FWD/AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV |
| Engine||3.6L/275-hp/251-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 |
| Transmission ||6-speed automatic |
| Curb weight (f/r dist) || 5077 lb (55/45%) |
| Wheelbase ||119.0 in |
| Length x width x height|| 201.5 x 79.0 x 72.5 in |
| 0-60 mph || 8.1 sec |
| Quarter mile || 16.3 sec @ 84.4 mph |
| Braking, 60-0 mph || 124 ft |
| Lateral acceleration || 0.76 g (avg) |
| MT Figure Eight ||28.7 sec @ 0.56 g (avg) |
| EPA city/hwy fuel econ || 16/22 mpg |
| CO2 emissions || 1.06 lb/mile |
| Engineering || **** |
| Design || **** |
| Interior/Functionality || **** |
| Performance || ** |
| On-Road Refinement || **** |
| Off-Road Ability|| * |
| Value || *** |
| Bottom Line ||Refined, roomy, smart-undoubtedly, the best Buick SUV to date. |