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By Katrina Ramser

General Motors has gone and created a large crossover utility vehicle that just about steals the thunder from any other competitor in its class (and in many others), which is an impossible feat to do with the current CUV competition. Let me count the ways.

The 4-door Enclave is attractive and classy, and although large it reflects the slimming down trend in the rear exterior you’re finding on 2009 crossover models. The interior is the epitome of luxury with its wood accents on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, and side door panels. Power everything, from seats to side mirrors. Dual air control, audio controls on steering wheel, remote start and liftgate, ultrasonic rear parking assist, top-notch Bose speakers, OnStar – all easy to understand and apply. It has three row of seating, with the second row featuring a smart slide system for easy accessibility.

It’s like a minivan all dressed up. The best part is that for what you get, it's an incredible deal. For a 2008 Buick Enclave CX with a 275-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine, full-wheel drive, and all the bells and whistles mentioned above and below, final price tag reaches $36,045.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Enclave has an extremely stylish look. Headlights are reminiscent of Lexus models and feature a high-intensity discharge. The interior is very roomy. Seats couldn’t have been more secure, with power seating letting you personalize your comfort even more. I was surprised to find out the CX isn’t even the best trim available (the CXL is apparently even more luxurious).

Reliability & Safety Factor: If you don't know this already, GM is one of the few manufacturers who provide the OnStar system, which is hands-free calling with 24-hour roadside assistance. Although it is a new car, it has the same engine as the Consumer Reports recommend Saturn Outlook (and although not recommended, in a recent study of third-row crossovers Consumer Reports found the Enclave tied with the Outlook, the Hyundai Veracruz, and Ford Taurus X Limited). GM offers a 5-year or 100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty and a 4-year or 50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Cost Issues: Take away the Entertainment Package (6-disc CD player, rear seat audio, Bose speakers), a white diamond tri-coat (?), remote start and the heated windshield wiper fluid on the model I drove, and you'd pay the standard vehicle price of $32,7900 (without destination charges – negotiate those out). I'll be very surprised if this vehicle doesn't do well with the older, Baby Boomer market.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Enclave houses the 3.6-liter V6 engine also found in the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia. I thought I'd feel small and overpowered by it, but by the end of my weeklong test drive it felt like a zippy, smaller crossover. This vehicle has to be one of the quietest cars I have ever driven. I fell in love with the breaks – nothing edgy about them, completely smooth and responsive. The shorter hood gives great visibility. Turning radius not bad at all, but I tended to look for larger parking spaces.

The Green Concern: The Enclave (or Buick) is toting Best-in-class fuel economy ratings. It claims 16-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. I received an average of 18-mpg, which is slightly better than most. However, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid (third-row competitor) does gets better at 24-mpg.

FINAL PARTING WORDS: The Buick Enclave is what you get (meaning, you go purchase it) when you're ready to upgrade from your minivan either because the kids have grown up or because you realize this vehicle has what you need: Family functionality, class, and affordability.

Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
Katrina's 2010 and 2009 Model Reviews For Women Drivers
Katrina's 2008 Model Reviews For Women Drivers

2008 Katrina Ramser