More Than a Pretty Face

2008, Buick, Enclave CXL

DETROIT - The Buick Enclave proved more than just a pretty face.

We spent a week with a 2008 Buick Enclave CXL AWD and found the crossover utility more than capable of performing all its duties well. Remember, despite its sleek appearance, the Enclave is a three- row people hauler. As such, it had size and weight to carry out the job.

Still, our test vehicle was nimble and highly maneuverable. Whether on city streets or cruising down the narrow lanes of the Lodge Freeway here, Buick's Enclave responded to driver input sharply.

We were particularly impressed with the light feel of the Enclave. It never felt like we driving a utility vehicle that tipped the scales at almost 5,000 lbs as the Enclave does. Our test vehicle had a towing capacity of 4,500 lbs.

It also had a cargo capacity of almost 19 cubic feet with the third row deployed and a sizable 115 cubic feet with the third and second row seats folded. Indeed, with all its toting and towing capacity, our test vehicle still had a relatively reasonable turning radius of 40 ft.

The Enclave's suspension was simply great. Because it has car- like unibody construction versus truck- like body on frame assembly, Buick's Enclave rode more like a car than a truck. It was comfortable. The ride was not bouncy, there wasn't all that much dip in the curves and the vehicle cornered really well.

Powered by a 3.6- liter V6 that made 275 horsepower, we at first were not that impressed with this engine in this application. That was during our first encounter with the enclave earlier this year. And quite frankly we thought it a bit underpowered and that acceleration could have been better.

But once on our turf, we found the Enclave's acceleration more than adequate for traffic filled metropolitan streets. Buick says zero to 60 mph time is 8.2 seconds and given the speed at which our test vehicle got off the mark at traffic lights, we don't doubt that time.

However, the Enclave is not going to smoke its tires coming off the line and it is not supposed to. But its acceleration was good enough to keep us out of harm's way in the 60 mph to 80 mph which is the unofficial speed limit on the 55 mph Lodge.

Good looks and power aside, we still think the best part of the Buick Enclave is the interior. Indeed, that's where we spent all of our time with it. The third row could accommodate two full- size adults comfortably. That's a rarity.

The second row had adjustable seats, a rear seat entertainment system and a 110 volt electrical socket. It was also outfitted with captain's chairs. The Enclave has a center console that can be unfolded, serving the same purpose for the second row but we couldn't figure out how to deploy it.

Buick says the Enclave's "QuietTuning engineering process reduces, blocks and absorbs unwanted noise from entering Enclave's cabin. Noise- reducing components include an acoustic- laminated windshield, laminated safety door glass, triple door seals, flat- blade windshield wipers, strategically placed sound- deadening material in more than two dozen locations throughout the vehicle and outside rearview mirrors and tires designed to minimize noise. The result is a library- quiet interior that allows passengers seated in the third row to hear a conversation between first- row occupants."

We don't about that but our Enclave was awfully quiet. That was a hallmark of past Buicks that being restored to present ones.

Our test vehicle was equipped with all sort sorts of stuff. It had a power liftgate, remote start, rear parking assist, active head lamps, a navigation system, OnStar, a sunroof with sky light over the second row, heated and foldable outside mirrors, tri- zone climate controls, and a premium audio system that included satellite radio.

After a week with the Buick Enclave, we still think its performance and functionality matches it looks which are great. Heck, it even has Five Star frontal and side impact ratings.

Our Enclave, with $7,000 worth of options, had a sticker of $44,055.

By Frank S.  Washington

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Images of the 2008, Buick Enclave CXL

head on
head on
room for the whole family
room for the whole family
GPS for all those roadtrips
GPS for all those roadtrips
from the side
from the side