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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.
First introduced back in 2008, the Buick Enclave returns for the 2010 model year in CX and CXL trim with more features but the same 3.6-liter, V-6 direct-injection engine as in 2009. Available in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations, the full-size luxury crossover has seating for eight and lots of cargo room, while delivering 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, according to EPA estimates (although these figures look to be optimistic in light of what TheCarConnection.com's editors have seen).
Inside the Enclave you’ll find a combination of subdued yet luxurious styling, with high-quality materials throughout. Buick retained most of the styling elements that made the Enclave a hit as a concept model a few years ago, and the product has largely been well-received from a styling standpoint. In terms of pricing, the 2010 Enclave’s retail price is reasonable for this type of vehicle.
Under the hood, the 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 engine in the 2010 Buick Enclave produces 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, burning regular 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. Acceleration in the Enclave is good, but on the highway the transmission can sometimes be caught hunting for the right gear and, in the process, jostling its occupants. That might be because the transmission has wide ratios and is designed to compromise between performance and fuel economy. Towing isn't completely forgotten; the Enclave to tow up to 4,500 pounds—an impressive figure for this type of vehicle.
The Enclave's ride is muted and smooth, resulting in an exceptionally quiet interior compared either to other crossovers or rival GMC Acadia or Chevrolet Traverse versions from GM. A new 20-inch chrome-clad wheel package is now available for the 2010 Buick Enclave, along with optional 19-inch wheels also featured on the 2009 Enclave; as usual, be sure you test drive a model equipped with larger wheels before purchasing, as the ride quality tends to suffer a little.
What makes the 2010 Buick Enclave particularly comfortable is the large interior space. A standard third row and overall space for up to 7 or 8 people (depending on the configuration) make the Enclave a reasonable minivan substitute. The third row's a real third row, too, and not just designed for small children with nonexistent legs. Storage is also plentiful, with over 23 cubic feet of space behind the third row when the cargo management system is removed, and if you fold down the second and third rows, you’ll free up over 115 cubic feet of cargo space.
The 2010 Buick Enclave should provide good occupant safety, thanks to its standard front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, and electronic stability control. Top results in all major crash tests affirm the Enclave's excellent overall protection.
In any of its trims, the Buick Enclave comes very well equipped, though the range-topping CXL trims pile on a level of luxury and tech features that might be surprising to see in a Buick. The CXL offers (standard or optional) a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo, three-zone climate control, a power rear liftgate, a head-up display (HUD), GPS, a two-panel sunroof, and a backseat DVD entertainment system. Heated and cooled driver and front-passenger seats, a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, XM NavTraffic, and OnStar Destination Download are also among the available features. This year, the premium sound system includes a USB port that doubles as a charger for personal electronics, and OnStar has been upgraded to provide vehicle diagnostics and advanced emergency services.