Performance » 6
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PERFORMANCE | 6 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.
The Enclave isn't as strapping as the 365-hp turbocharged versions of the Flex and MKT, but its 288-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 has its own charms. The usable powerband reaches higher into the rev range than in some crossovers, giving it a perky feel, still torquey enough at city speeds. It works well, with the six-speed automatic shifting smoothly, although the one hitch is that it's a little sluggish to downshift compared to the transmissions in most other crossovers. In part, that's the product of wide transmission ratios that leaves the engine turning very slowly in the upper couple of gears, requiring a downshift for even mild grades.
Buick offers the Enclave in front-drive or with available all-wheel drive, which is really only necessary if you experience extended winter weather. Handling isn't quite carlike, though the Enclave rides as well as many luxury cars. It steers well for a vehicle of its size, and body roll isn't excessive for its ride height, either--although you'll never forget that the Enclave is a very heavy vehicle.
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 Enclave can tow up to 4,500 pounds, which should be more than enough if you plan to tow a couple of jet-skis or a small boat out to the lake.
The 2012 Buick Enclave performs as well as most sedans, although its heft discourages quick changes of direction.