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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
It's too heavy for the 275-horse, 3.6-liter variable-valve timing V-6 under the hood
With seven adults in our front-drive test vehicle, getting up to highway speeds took about all the power the Enclave could muster
we’d suggest paying the extra two grand for an all-wheel-driver simply because it feels a little more planted
Car and Driver
enthusiast drivers will hate the way the Enclave leans in hard cornering
Steering pays homage to the numb Electra 225s of yore with poor feedback, especially on-center.
If GM is attempting to establish a more pedigreed, European-style driving feel for Buick's vehicles, the 2011 Buick Enclave still hasn't gotten the memo. That said, the Enclave performs reasonably well; it's just not pulse-raising or noteworthy in any performance respects.
Under the hood, the 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 engine makes 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, burning regular gasoline; it's mated to the Hydra-Matic 6T75 electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission that features automatic grade braking, shift stabilization, and precise shift control. Although the Enclave won't wow with 0-60 numbers, real-world acceleration is good—impressively, 90 percent of the engine's peak torque is available from 2,500 rpm to more than 6,000 rpm. However, 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.
And if you need to drag a couple of SeaDoos or a single-axle trailer with a small boat, for instance, no fear: the Enclave can tow up to 4,500 pounds—an impressive figure for this type of vehicle.
One of the down sides of the Enclave driving experience is its heavy overall feel and ponderous size and weight. At more than 200 inches long, the Enclave is downright long by today's standards, and it can prove difficult to park and maneuver. And with a curb weight of about 5,000 pounds, it's hefty. You feel that weight whenever you're starting, stopping, or making any abrupt change in direction, and the Enclave has more nosedive in hard braking than any other vehicle we've been in recently—minivans included—but the brakes are confidence-inspiring, with a firm pedal feel.
The 2011 Buick Enclave is very conservative looking, but its curvy exterior and most of the interior are enough to impress most shoppers looking for a practical and luxurious vehicle.