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2011 Buick Enclave: Driven Page 2

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The Enclave might ride like a car, but it doesn't handle like one. That said, steering itself is about as nice as you can get for such a heavy, front-wheel-drive vehicle; again, you won't want to be changing direction quickly, but the Enclave can hold its own surprisingly well.

Smooth, sweet powertrain; lackluster fuel economy

While the Enclave's V-6, rated at 288 hp, isn't as brawny as the EcoBoost V-6 that's offered in the Lincoln MKT and Ford Flex, it reaches higher into the rev range in normal driving compared to other vehicles in this class, which gives it a perky feel. That's no issue, as it's sweet and smooth. The six-speed automatic shifts nicely, though it seemed a bit too eager to downshift and exhibited a lumpy second-third upshift through the whole test week.

Fuel economy is about typical for the class. EPA fuel economy ratings are 17 mpg city, 24 highway, and over nearly 100 miles of driving, a good mix of conditions including about a third of that around town and a third on the highway, we saw just 17 mpg altogether, according to the trip computer.

When we had a rainy day, the front wheels seemed to have trouble gathering traction to get the hefty Enclave moving quickly—especially when pointed slightly uphill. Although all-wheel drive isn't something that you necessarily need, a more proactive stability control setting, or stickier tires, might help, and putting a load of kids in back, or attaching a trailer, could only make it worse.

Sticker shock!

The Enclave's price is surprisingly high. The base Enclave starts in the mid-thirties, but at a bottom-line of more than $48,000, and a starting price of $42,095, for our loaded 2011 Buick Enclave CXL2, the Enclave isn't cheap. At that, it's priced in line with more luxurious models like the Lincoln MKT, Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350, and even the Volvo XC90

Like Tiger Woods, the Enclave doesn't quite have the sparkle it used to. But you can bet there's a comeback in the works; with the new direction for Buick, we're sure of it.

See The Car Connection's full review pages on the 2011 Buick Enclave for an up-close look at how it matches up, as well as images, specs, and pricing.


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