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When the Enclave crossover was introduced for 2008, it was segment-leading—and could be seen as the first of a new generation of Buicks. The 2011 Buick Enclave remains one of the better large crossover utility choices, but it no longer heralds the direction of the brand, which has over the past couple of years been refocused toward performance and a more European feel.
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).
That said, the 2011 Buick Enclave is a good-looking vehicle. With curvy, Coke-bottle sheetmetal, smooth chrome details including those borderline tacky 'ventiports' along the hood, and an instrument-panel design that borrows some Art Deco cues, analog clock up top on the dash, the look is classy, if a bit conservative.
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 smoothly, too, though it's hesitant in transitions or in hilly terrain.
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. It's a neat, roomy package overall, with three rows of adult-size seating (the third folds down flat) and an almost minivan-like feel inside—just without the sliding doors.
- Elegant, unique look
- Passenger-friendly interior
- Luxurious feature set
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- Laden driving feel
- Hesitant transmission
- Disappointing fuel economy