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2011 Buick Enclave Review


2011 Buick Enclave (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Buick Enclave

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyers Guide

2011 Buick Enclave
A Handsome, High-quality Hauler

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The 2011 Buick Enclave, a premium crossover SUV, is the luxury offering from the trio of platform-sharing SUV’s by General Motors. The sister vehicles being the Chevrolet Traverse and the GMC Acadia, all of which are designed for people-hauling plus cargo-carrying and can tow. I recently spent a week driving an Enclave CXL-2 All-Wheel-Drive. I had spent time in the Chevy Traverse that I previously reviewed on The Auto Channel.


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The 2011 model is virtually unchanged from 2010; but why change a good thing. Lauded as the first modern Buick with high levels of refinement, the Enclave is luxury-sedan quiet. The moment you get in the high-quality luxury appointments are evident. I was impressed by its responsiveness, quiet operation, minimal wind and tire noise, and smooth-shifting transmission. Acceleration and available engine power is adequate for the usual driving situations. Its quiet cruising is a pleasantry.


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The Enclave is constructed with an integral uni-body and frame architecture, is offered in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with one engine/transmission combination, a 288 Horsepower all-aluminum 3.6L V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic. Using the recommended regular unleaded fuel, EPA fuel economy ratings are 17 City mpg and 24 Highway mpg for the front-drive model and 16 City mpg and 22 Highway mpg for the All-wheel drive. The 22 gallon fuel tank should allow for all-day driving with around 500 miles between fuel stops.


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Seating configuration for 7 or 8 is available with 23.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row seat. I prefer the 7-seat configuration that has two individual captain’s chairs in the second row and 67.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind them with the rear seat folded.Enclave’s second-row seats feature
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GM’s Smart Slide system that allows easy entry to the third row with the pull of one handle. With Smart Slide, the second-row seat cushion flips up while the seatback slides forward, making for easy access to the third row. A cavernous 115.3 cubic feet is your’s to fill up if just the front seats are needed. A very well executed feature is the fold-down mechanism for the third row seat.
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Open the power rear liftgate – the power operation is very convenient when your arms are full -- pull on the release straps and the seat folds forward. Raising the seat is a simple matter of pulling on these straps. No need to climb in or go to the side door. I also like the automatically folding headrests on the second row seats when you fold them forward---no need to remove the headrests or compromise the front seat position.

The Enclave is offered in two models, the CX and CXL and both are available in FWD or AWD. Premium cloth seats are standard on the CX; perforated and heated leather seats are standard on the CXL.

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The list of standard equipment on each model is very long. Suffice to say, all the usual luxury features and equipment are provided. The wood-finish trim and chrome accents are very classy. A rearview camera --- an item that might be required on all vehicles in the next few years, remote vehicle start, articulated headlights, power tilt and telescoping steering column, power sunroof with second-row skylight, rear parking assist, DVD navigation with OnStar, rear seat audio controls, DVD rear seat entertainment, and much more allows you to customize the Enclave to your wants and needs.

Driving dynamics are managed with a four-wheel independent suspension, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, a range of 18-,19- and 20-inch wheels, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system.


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The long wheelbase and wide front and rear track make for a low center of gravity thus providing smooth and stable ride and handling. Not to be overlooked is the 7.2 inch ground clearance, an SUV characteristic that helps in the occasional unpaved road or deep snow excursion.

Cloth or leather seating in ebony, cashmere or titanium is offered depending on model to be paired with 10 different exterior colors. Pricing for the CX starts at $35,615. The CXL-2 I drove had a base price of $44,095 and totaled at $49,775 with the options and destination charge. The Enclave is built in Lansing, Michigan,

Competitors on the market for comparison and consideration include the Acura MDX, Lexus RX350, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Lincoln MKT and Mazda CX-9, as well as GM’s own offering in the GMC Acadia that is sold in the same showroom.

The Buick Enclave is a great vehicle for transporting the whole family, car-pooling the young ones when necessary, or for a classy night on the town with another couple.

© Larry Nutson