- Elegant styling
- More passenger-friendly than traditional SUVs
- Upmarket interior
- Heated windshield included among other options
- Hefty curb weight
- Transmission “hunts”
- Lackluster fuel economy
The 2010 Buick Enclave takes on the Lexus RX 350, yet provides a luxurious, uniquely American interior.
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.
2010 Buick Enclave
The 2010 Buick Enclave has a curvy exterior and tasteful, classy interior styling that are sure to impress almost any shopper for this type of vehicle.
The 2010 Buick Enclave is a good-looking vehicle, most reviewers agree. Curvaceous fenders and glamorous detailing are a big part of it, though TheCarConnection.com thinks that the D-pillar would look better blacked out than in body color (it's the vertical piece that separates the rear doors from the cargo area). The Enclave's interior is loved, too; it's subdued, luxurious, and high-quality throughout—and in many ways, a revelation for Buick.
A number of reviewers try to assess the overall design, and many see retro influences. MotherProof considers the Enclave "curvy" but still "lean" overall. According to the reviewers from Kelley Blue Book, the "waterfall" grille and portholes above the fenders hark back to the classic design lines of Buicks from the late 1940s and early '50s. It's "a more soothing design," Car and Driver contends—and BusinessWeek agrees, saying, "the curvy contours, the chrome, and the bold grille-work perfectly reflect the Enclave's overall tone."
Reviewers are more positive about the Enclave's styling than that of other Buicks. Some reviews of the Enclave's style could be mistaken for descriptions of a cocktail waitress. For example, the 2010 Buick Enclave's "voluptuous curves" and "graceful lines" are admired by the likes of Edmunds, while Road & Travel calls it "slinky." Others are less poetic, observing that the Enclave is a "crossover with flowing lines, big wheels, a wide stance, and a tapered upper body," according to Car and Driver. Underneath the suave exterior, it's similar to its siblings, MSN Autos says, "but the Buick model looks the best of the trio," referring to the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook; the closely related Chevrolet Traverse also joined GM's roster last year.
The interior of the 2010 Buick Enclave draws overwhelmingly positive comments. The Auto Channel called the dashboard, particularly the analog clock in the center, a throwback to the Art Deco movement, and BusinessWeek gushed by calling the interior "gorgeous" and that the Enclave managed to punch above its weight class into luxury territory with interior appointments that wouldn't be out of place in a Lexus, Volvo or Acura. The New York Times praised GM's ability to upgrade its interiors, compared to the other crossovers based on the same platform, and Motor Trend lauded the organic, Coke-bottle form of the Enclave's exterior, especially the flowing lines near the top of the Enclave.
2010 Buick Enclave
The 2010 Buick Enclave handles and rides comfortably, but powertrain response and fuel economy are unremarkable.
The 2010 Buick Enclave rides smoothly and handles well, but some reviewers want more performance out of the powertrain.
The Buick Enclave features a 3.6-liter V-6 engine, producing 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque; it has direct injection and runs on regular gasoline. And impressively, 90 percent of the engine's peak torque is available from 2,500 rpm to more than 6,000 rpm. The Enclave takes only 8 seconds to accelerate up to 60 mph, which it deemed "adequate" for its size and mission. Cars.com said that drivers won't likely confuse the V-6 for a more powerful V-8 engine normally found in crossovers of its size, but noted that the power would be suitable for people when called upon. BusinessWeek wasn't as optimistic, noting that in several tests they had difficulty replicating the same acceleration figures that others have observed.
The 2010 Buick Enclave is paired with a 6-speed automatic that smoothly shifted between gears, but found that it hunted for the right gear in certain circumstances. Motor Trend further observed that the 6-speed may be overmatched when trying to accelerate up hills, through tight turns, or when entering busy interstates. Edmunds took turns praising the 6-speed's quality while cruising, but added that the Enclave was eager to upshift, likely to achieve better fuel economy.
In fitting with Buick's long-held reputation, the Enclave is a smooth operator at freeway speeds. According to Motor Trend, "The Enclave's ride is isolated, comfortable but with moderate roll." They also conclude that the Enclave handles well "for a large, comfortable crossover utility," but the lack of steering feel and "poor feedback, especially on-center," is a source of disappointment.
Fuel consumption for the 2010 Buick Enclave differs depending on whether measuring front- or all-wheel drive, but the difference in fuel consumption is marginal at best, and on top of this fuel-economy ratings seem to be a bit optimistic, as TheCarConnection.com's editors also observe. The AWD version gets slightly lower mileage on the highway, according to Cars.com, at 22 mpg, but the city figures for both models—as well as the overall average, according to Edmunds—is around 16 mpg.
The 2010 Buick Enclave is available in either front- or all-wheel drive, and according to Kelley Blue Book, the AWD option is "engineered to enhance traction in the more realistic conditions of wet or snowy roads," but is not appropriate for hard-core off-roading.
2010 Buick Enclave
Comfort & Quality
A passenger-friendly design and a quiet, luxurious interior put the 2010 Buick Enclave in the top tier of crossovers.
Interior space is abundant in the 2010 Buick Enclave, and it's clear that GM has put the priority on passenger space. ConsumerGuide reports ample head room and leg room and getting into the Enclave was easy with wide openings and good space inside. BusinessWeek praised the second-row captain's chairs and their SmartSlide feature, that folded down the second row for easy entry into the third row. Cars.com warned that the third row may be a little too cozy for adult occupants.
Cargo space is just as impressive. According to Car and Driver, the 19 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row was helpful and that when folded down, along with the second row, the space behind the first row opened up to 115 cubic feet and was enough to carry 4-by-8 sheets of building material.
Buicks are expected to be smooth and quiet, and the 2010 Enclave is no exception. The Auto Channel notes that GM's engineers have done a "magnificent" job of insulating the vehicle against road noise. The New York Times also notes that compared to the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook "the Enclave gets more soundproofing than its cousins," which may help Buick compete one day against Lexus. Kelley Blue Book describes the interior as "delightfully calm and free of the sounds that fatigue occupants on long drives."
With all this praise, a few bad choices regarding cabin materials remain the only black mark against the 2010 Buick Enclave. Editors at Motor Trend praised the leather-wrapped steering wheel, but said the center of the wheel was a lower-grade plastic and the hard black plastic on the back seemed like a bad fit for the upscale crossover. Kelley Blue Book somewhat disagreed and noted that the interior was inviting, with a high-quality dashboard fit with nice burl wood appliques and chrome trim.
2010 Buick Enclave
The 2010 Buick Enclave is one of the safest choices in this class, with high crash-test scores and an arsenal of standard safety equipment to give buyers peace of mind.
Safety is typically a top concern for families and luxury shoppers, and the 2010 Buick Enclave addresses this with top crash-test performance and a full roster of safety features.
Crash-test results for the 2010 Buick Enclave are about the best possible for such a vehicle. The Enclave earned five stars from the NHTSA for front- and side-impact protection and a four-star rating for rollover protection in the calculated test. The insurance-affiliated IIHS awards its top "good" rating in frontal offset, side-impact, and seat-based rear-impact tests. The Enclave has also been an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
For 2010, new electronic stability systems monitored by OnStar's Vehicle Diagnostics offer even more safety features than last year's model. The Enclave, of course, comes with standard front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, and electronic stability control. According to Car and Driver, GM uses "high-strength steel for protection" of its occupants.
2010 Buick Enclave
The luxurious 2010 Buick Enclave is a relative bargain in its class—provided you keep the options down.
The 2010 Buick Enclave has a competitive—some might say low—price while offering an impressive set of standard features.
Keyless entry, an AM/FM/CD/XM radio, and a power liftgate are all standard on the base model, according to Cars.com and The Auto Channel's reporting. A tilt-telescoping steering wheel and a rearview camera are available, but Edmunds noted that opting for both jumped the price well past the $40,000 mark.
All the way at the top of the order sheet, the 2010 Enclave can be ordered with several premium features including a Bose surround-sound audio system, power liftgate, head-up display, dual-pane sunroof, three-zone climate control, navigation, and a rear-seat entertainment system that plays DVDs. Big, 19-inch wheels are available and look sharp, but new for this year is a 20-inch chrome clad wheel package. We advise a test drive before opting for bigger wheels, the ride quality isn't as good. MotherProof liked the optional features on the Enclave and noted that a fully loaded model only cost around $44,000. Those cars were fitted with a rear-seat entertainment system, heated seats, navigation, a sunroof and power adjustable first- and second-row seating.
The 2010 Enclave model also features available heated and cooled driver and front-passenger seats, Bluetooth for a hands-free phone interface, XM NavTraffic, and OnStar Destination Download. New for 2010 is a USB port for audio devices; it doubles as a charger.
The Car Connection Consumer Review
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