- Easier to live with than a full-size SUV
- Graceful styling
- Comfortable, opulent interior
- Standard features galore
- Heated windshield included among other options
- Excessive weight means it’s not nimble
- Transmission hunts on highway grades
- Unimpressive fuel economy
The 2009 Buick Enclave takes American-made luxury crossovers into the realm where Lexus resides.
Introduced last year, the Buick Enclave returns for 2009 in CX and CXL models with more convenience features and a new 3.6-liter V-6 direct injection engine as the standard power plant. The full-size luxury crossover has seating for eight and lots of cargo room while delivering 16 mpg city, 22 highway for all-wheel-drive models, according to EPA estimates (although TheCarConnection.com's editors believe those figures to be optimistic).
The Enclave’s interior is a combination of subdued, luxurious, and high-quality styling and materials. The elegant exterior design was well received by consumers last year because Buick retained the styling elements that made the Enclave a hit as a concept model a couple years prior. The Enclave’s retail price is surprisingly affordable for this type of vehicle, and the crossover offers a host of standard equipment and an extensive warranty.
The new 3.6-liter direct injection V-6 engine in the 2009 Buick Enclave produces 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque burning regular unleaded gasoline. The V-6 is mated to the Hydra-Matic 6T75 electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission that features automatic grade braking, shift stabilization, and precise shift control. The wide-ratio (6.04:1) transmission is designed to deliver both performance and fuel economy, as well as tow up 4,500 pounds. Acceleration is good, but on the highway, the transmission sometimes hunts for the right gear and, in the process, jostles its occupants.
Compared to the other full-size crossovers from GM, the Enclave's ride is hushed and smooth, resulting in an exceptionally quiet interior. In addition, what makes the 2009 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 storage space behind the third row; plus, maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds.
Relative to full-size truck-based SUVs, the 2009 Buick Enclave should provide better safety for passengers, with standard front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, and electronic stability control. The Enclave is among the best-rated vehicles in crash tests, with top standings in all U.S. front- and side tests.
The 2009 Buick Enclave comes very well equipped, with top CXL trims offering (standard or optional) 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 a backseat DVD entertainment system. New convenience features on the 2009 Enclave model include heated and cooled driver and front-passenger seats, a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, XM NavTraffic, OnStar Destination Download, and two new exterior colors: Quicksilver Metallic and Silver Green Metallic.
A 19-inch wheel/tire package is available for the 2009 Buick Enclave and looks sharp, but be sure you test drive a model so equipped before you buy, as the ride quality suffers a bit.