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2011 Buick Enclave CXL-AWD Review

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2011 Buick Enclave

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Model: 2011 Buick Enclave CXL-AWD
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 288 hp @ 6,300 rpm/270 lb.-ft. @ 3,400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 119.0 in.
Length/Width/Height: 201.5 x 79.0 x 72.5 in.
Tires: P255/55R20
Cargo volume: 23.2/67.5/115.3 cu. ft. (behind 3rd row/2nd row/1st row)
Fuel economy: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway/17.0 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 22.0 gal.
Curb weight: 4,985 lbs.
Sticker: $49,755 (includes $775 destination charge, $4,885 in options ($3,185 for audio with DVD; $1,400 for power sunroof; $300 for 20-inch chrome wheels)

Top 5 reasons to buy this car

1. Comfortable
2. Decent power
3. Excellent cargo capacity
4. Friendly
5. Good road manners

The Bottom Line: The Enclave is Buick's most attractive car to "youngsters," with a minimum age of 49 for its buyers. As someone in the Buick demographic, I can see why. Here is a very nice crossover with a great engine, comfort and road manners, all the features Buick owners have been seeking for years.

My wife and I have a running joke; if we see a Buick on the highway the driver and passengers usually have grey hair. Buicks appeal to "more mature" drivers. As proof, my wife has a 2001 LeSabre.

So what would a Buick crossover be like? Especially one that shares its platform with the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia? As we all know, General Motors tries very hard to distinguish the brands and similar models.

We have driven the Acadia (and an older Traverse), and can say with all honesty that the Buick Enclave is a Buick. David Buick wudda been proud.

First, the Enclave has a great engine. It's a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 288 horsepower. Yes, it's the same engine as in the Traverse and Acadia, but it fits well with the Enclave. We more mature drivers like to have the availability of power under our right feet.

Second, the Enclave has excellent road manners. We took it on a long drive that included Interstates, back country dirt roads, and urban narrow streets. While the tightness of the narrow streets was a challenge (more for the driver than the car), the Enclave comported itself quite well. And it looked good doing it.

Third, more mature drivers often have to carry a lot of cargo. This can be in the form of real cargo as they travel among children's' houses or in the form of people. The Enclave's cargo capacity begins with a healthy 23.2 cubic feet behind the third row of seats and explodes to 115.3 cubic feet if you fold the third and second rows. There's also hidden storage under the cargo floor. It can also carry seven passengers, with two rows of captain's chairs and a bench in the back.

The second row seats are Smart Slide, which means that they are on rails to allow the passengers to get the most out of the available leg room. They also fold compactly to enable better access to the third row. We found second row legroom to be excellent.

Handling is very good, whether on an Interstate or negotiating narrow lanes. Buick/GM has equipped the Enclave with a compliant suspension that doesn't try to be a sports car but tries to do what a crossover's suspension should do. While the Enclave is Suburban-like in size, it doesn't drive that way.

A nice feature about the Enclave that appeals to older drivers is that everything is where it should be and is within easy reach. That means the audio controls are where they should be, as are the HVAC controls.

We also had a pair of sunroofs with screens to keep out the bugs. Our grandchildren liked the sunroofs.

My only complaint is with the hanger hooks. They're located way back by the third row seats and can't be accessed easily from the second row doors. If you do get to them, you'll find that they only hold one or two hangers, not like the assist handles on most cars.

But as part of the Buick demographic (and I seriously hope they don't abandon us as many manufacturers have done), I was pleased with the Enclave. It's a nice looking car with the kind of performance and ride that appeals to more mature drivers who know what they're looking for.


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