The Buick Enclave crowns GM's newest batch of crossover SUVs, a group that also includes the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia. The Enclave has some features not seen on the Outlook or Acadia, though, like a power-adjustable steering wheel, rear backup camera and additional noise insulation. Like its siblings, the Enclave offers three rows of seats standard. Trim levels include the base CX and uplevel CXL.
The crossovers signal a dramatic departure from GM's current truck-based offerings, including the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. The Outlook, Acadia and Enclave are car-based, offering modern six-speed automatic transmissions and 3.6-liter V-6 engines that help them achieve substantially better gas mileage.
While the Outlook and Acadia compete with garden-variety Hondas and Toyotas, Buick says the Enclave will go head to head with the Volvo XC90 and Acura MDX, among others.
The production Enclave looks much like the concept vehicle that appeared at the Detroit auto show in January 2006. Sculpted ellipsoid headlights, a waterfall grille and louvered gills above the front fenders draw similarities to other Buicks, while the profile looks much like those of the Outlook and Acadia. All told, the Enclave's styling is more carlike than the Rainier, Buick's current midsize SUV.
Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard on the Enclave CX, while the CXL has 19-inch wheels. At nearly 202 inches from bumper to bumper, the Enclave is more than an inch longer than the Outlook and Acadia. The XC90 and MDX are both about a foot shorter.
Buick says the Enclave's interior strives to emulate that of a private jet. Heated leather seats, a navigation system and a Bose 10-speaker stereo are among the options.
With standard bucket seats in the first and second rows and a three-passenger third-row bench, the Enclave seats seven. An optional three-passenger bench seat for the second row lets you seat eight. The second-row bucket seats slide forward and back, and the second and third rows fold to provide extra cargo room. With both rows stowed, maximum cargo room totals 116.2 cubic feet — considerably more than in the XC90 (93.2) or MDX (83.5).
Under the Hood
A 3.6-liter V-6 generates 275 horsepower and 251 pounds-feet of torque. It works with a six-speed automatic transmission, which GM says gives the Enclave incrementally better performance and gas mileage compared to a conventional four-speed automatic.
When properly equipped, the Enclave can tow up to 4,500 pounds.
Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with rollover mitigation technology are standard. Six standard airbags include the required frontal ones, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for all three rows. During a rollover, the side curtain airbags can stay inflated for several moments to provide additional protection.