2009 Buick Enclave Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 16, 2009

The 2009 Buick Enclave takes American-made luxury crossovers into the realm where Lexus resides.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Buick Enclave in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com also researched available road tests on the new Buick Enclave to produce this conclusive review and to help you make sense of where and why reviewers might differ.

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.

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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. Initial acceleration is more than adequate, however, we've found that the transmission tends to hunt for the right gear and the result can be jarring inside the cabin.

Against other full-sizers, the Enclave is more refined and a smoother ride with a quieter interior. It's also bigger. With a standard third row and room for 7 or 8, depending on configuration, there's plenty of space inside compared to others in its class. The third row is real; not just a gimmick for a billboard number. Almost 19 cubic feet of cargo room lives behind the last row, and the Enclave can tow up to 4,500 pounds when properly equipped.

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.

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