2011 Buick Enclave Comfort & Quality

9.0
Comfort & Quality

The front seats in the Enclave are nothing special; they're large and wide, but overly soft. But when it comes to pleasing passengers—especially those who have to sit behind the front seats—that's where the 2011 Enclave shines.

Throughout, the 2011 Buick Enclave has impressive 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 2011 Buick Enclave has a very roomy, passenger-friendly design, along with a exceptionally muted, smooth ride.

The Enclave's back seats fold down to a completely flat cargo floor, allowing a minivan-like space behind the second row good enough for just about any purchase from big-box stores, and the second tow tilts forward for even more space. Aside from the long rear doors—necessary to allow entry to the third row.

The second-row chairs sit a bit higher than in most other large crossovers; you get a good view out, and the position is comfortable for adults. The third-row seat is the largest in this crossover class; adults can sit back there—including those way over six feet. The seat's a little low and crunched, but you can do it for a trip out to the soccer game.

Ride quality is near perfect; it's muted and smooth, resulting in an exceptionally quiet interior compared either to other crossovers or rival GMC Acadia or Chevrolet Traverse versions from GM. The suspension is soft and absorbent but never bouncy—although there's a fair amount of nosedive during hard stops. The Enclave suffers just the slightest bit for its optional 20-inch wheels and tires, with the ride a bit unsettled, but even then it's softer and more refined than other seven-seat crossovers. The long wheelbase works well over bumps, but will give you pause even in a Home Depot parking lot; the turning circle can't cut in as closely as you might expect. But it all comes together on the open road; in fitting with Buick's long-held reputation, the Enclave is a smooth operator at freeway speeds especially.

A 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.

Interior materials and trims in the Enclave are quite good overall, though some of the dull plastic on the instrument panel feels a bit out of place in a vehicle that can cost nearly $50k.

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