- Elegant exterior
- Luxurious, roomy interior
- Easier to live with than a full-size SUV
- Lots of standard features
- Clever options, like heated windshield washers
- Disappointing fuel mileage
- Transmission “hunts”
- Hefty, at 5,100 pounds
If Lexus is your current definition of luxury, check out the 2008 Buick Enclave to see a new American take on the subject.
The 2008 Buick Enclave is a crossover vehicle--which usually means it's derived from car pieces. Only in this case, GM designed the Enclave and its sister vehicles (the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse) from the ground up, though some engine and suspension pieces are borrowed from the company's cars.
In looks, inside and out, the 2008 Buick Enclave has been enthusiastically received. It wowed attendees at the Detroit Auto Show in 2006 when it appeared as a so-called concept. Crowds loved its curvaceous fenders and glamorous detailing. The following year, it debuted as a full production model, and Buick wisely retained much of what was so well received about the concept. The exterior shape is curvaceous and handsome, though the D-pillar would look better blacked out than in body color (it's the vertical piece that separates the rear doors from the cargo area). Inside, it's subdued, luxurious, and high-quality throughout--and a revelation for Buick.
The 2008 Buick Enclave comes with a single powertrain, a healthy 275-horsepower V-6 and standard six-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is good, but on the highway, the transmission sometimes hunts for the right gear, and jostles its occupants in the process. While EPA estimates give hope for 16/22 mpg (city/highway) for all-wheel-drive models, based on TheCarConnection.com's experience, those are optimistic.
The Enclave's ride is hushed and smooth, resulting in an exceptionally quiet interior. Compared to the other full-size crossovers from GM, the Buick includes many unique pieces that reduce road and wind noise.
In addition to being quiet, what makes the 2008 Buick Enclave particularly comfortable is the plus-size accommodations. It's huge inside, with a standard third row and room for 7 to 8 people (depending on the configuration). The third row's a real third row, too, not there only for advertising purposes. There's almost 19 cubic feet of additional storage space behind the third row; plus, maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds. Base 2008 Buick Enclave models come with 18-inch rims, front and rear A/C, stability control, full-row curtain airbags, and GM's OnStar concierge system with "turn-by-turn" navigation assistance. Higher-end models offer or can be ordered with all the niceties, from a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo to three-zone climate control, a power rear liftgate, a head-up display (HUD), GPS, a two-panel sunroof, and backseat DVD entertainment system. A 19-inch wheel/tire package is available and looks sharp, but be sure you test drive a model so equipped before you buy, as the ride quality suffers a bit.