By on May 23, 2007

x08bu_en066.jpgWhen better cars are built, Buick will build them. Meanwhile, they’re building CUV’s. Huh? An automotive brand whose lack of identity has kept it on life support for well over a decade wants a piece of a vehicular genre that’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and nothing in particular. GM’s willingness– make that “eagerness”– to throw Buick a CUV-shaped, badge-engineered bone demonstrates the corporate mothership’s abject and ongoing inability to devise a coherent plan to resuscitate its “damaged” (i.e. terminal) Buick brand. What is it with these guys?

Anyway, calling a vehicle of the Enclave’s epic dimensions a crossover forces us to expand the genre’s definition from “cute ute” to “the bastard child of a minivan and a full-sized SUV.” That said, Buick's CUV on steroids is a surprisingly graceful design. Well-judged chrome accents abound, from the door trim to the blinged-out wheels. The premium paint job is worth the extra cash; a pearl-coated Enclave’s spizzarkle will make Cadillac owners scowl into their prune juice.

x08bu_en042.jpgThe purpose of these porky proportions lies within. Much like Danielewski’s house of blue, the Enclave is bigger on the inside than on the outside. Sliding second row seats can provide as much or as little rear space as needed, depending on the degree of family bonding desired. Optional middle-row bench seats up the capacity to eight, for maximum character building. And accoutrements abound, giving backseat drivers their choices of entertainment and environmental controls.

Though I applaud GM’s brave decision to hire the blind to color-match the Enclave’s interior, the model’s beige leather, floor and ceiling clash with the ashy brown door trim; which is irritatingly beset with medium-shaded wood accents. The plastics are alternately hard and soft– softer where contact is inevitable and harder where only masochists dare to tread (especially after initial, revulsion-inducing contact).

interior1.jpgBrushed metal trim on the door handles add (ADD?) to the boggle factor. The dash provides a similar lack of coherence; chrome strips and an analog clock top off the WTF factor. Wood also makes a guest appearance on the steering wheel, playing the role of the suave but untrustworthy stranger. Note to Buick: wood or metal, pick a side.

The number of dashboard controls never reaches the sheer distraction level of an MDX, but it’s not for lack of trying. After a brief tussle with the Enclave’s electronic seating controls, during which the memory function attempted to crush my kneecaps, we were on the road.

x08bu_en028.jpgAfter driving a selection of super-sized SUVs, I squared off for battle with yon steering wheel, only to find it surprisingly light and responsive. The closet enthusiast may be disgusted by the lack of road feel and steering feedback, but then, they’re not likely to purchase something of these epic proportions. The average luxobarge driver will appreciate the Enclave's easy, quick steering and wonderfully cushy suspension.

In fact, you can easily forget you’re piloting a 2.5 ton vehicle– until you attempt brisk acceleration. With its V6 kicking-out 275hp and 251 ft.-lbs. of torque, the Enclave literally lags behind its natural rivals. Zero to sixty takes 8.4 seconds; the Acura MDX gets the job done in 7.2 and the Mazda CX-9 arrives in 7.5.

x08bu_en014.jpgThe Enclave’s six-speed automatic transmission is a step ahead of standard GM fare, but the gearbox serves-up early upshifts and late downshifts, with a heavy side of throttle lag. You can take matters into your own hands with shift lever-mounted buttons, but chances are you won’t.

The Enclave comes complete with airbags for all and the usual alphabet stew of safety equipment: ABS, TPMS, ESC and Anti-Rollover Logic (if your common sense fails). Nav-equipped vehicles offer a rear view camera, a handy option in a car with this much bounteous booty.

x08bu_en021.jpgThe $33k-ish (and up) front wheel-drive Enclave offers a considerable amount of value for driver who can appreciate the subtle luxuries within. Actually, “near luxury” pretty much nails it. For significantly less money than its foreign luxury competitors, you can buy a Buick Enclave and pretend you’re driving a mid- to large-sized luxury SUV– without the handling, performance or reputation. 

Alternatively, for a few thousand dollars less, you can buy either one of the Enclave’s non-identical twins: the Saturn Outlook or GMC Acadia. Or wait for the Chevy version. Or just wonder why GM builds better Buicks in China, and then sells four versions of the same CUV in America, reserving the best looking one for their doomed division, without giving it a proper V8 to distinguish it from its automotive homonyms.

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123 Comments on “2007 Buick Enclave Review...”


  • avatar
    Point Given

    Indeed. GM’s rolling clusterf**k of badge engineering strikes again. Late to the party once again so they bring 4 average dates instead of one decent one.

    This is why I belive that GM sells price, not product. Too many machines too move accross too many brands means discounts and rebates.

    When I sold cars for a living for Nissan I’d be able to take a few bucks off MSRP for people and the nearest GM dealer would take $5000 off. It’s not about the product at GM.

    This Buick will be continuing proof of the “We sell Price not product” way of doing things.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    The strangest thing here is that a Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealer has two versions of this vehicle, yet Chevy doesn’t get one.

    Saturn is also finding out that no-haggle pricing doesn’t work on a thirty thousand dollar GM vehicle.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    guys you probably shouldn`t be bashing enclave that much. being 2.5 tons it can have fwd, for it won`t have torque steer anyway, because the power is not so big . and i believe they will add v8 later. a awd should be added. enclave is a way forward. at least it has some distinctive sheetmetal. as far as i have seen fit and finish is also good.they need to add v8, awd, led taillights,and a sunroof from g6.

  • avatar

    jurisb: There is an English expression: first impressions last. And another: start as you mean to finish. Even if we accept the idea that GM will eventually sort out the Enclave's deficiencies, by the time they do so, the ship will have already sailed. And the competition will move even further ahead. Geotpf: As the article states, the Chevy version is coming. 

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    I think its time to recognize there can actually be two classes of automobile transportation: sport and touring. Touring requires interior space and comfort combined with visibility. Sport, well you all know it well and from the list of 10 best cars sport is what most of the readers here like, want and demand. This Buick looks to me like a great touring vehicle and one that has a lot going for it especially when transporting other people. We can't all have the luxury of moving from place to place in our two or four seat sports tuned semi-racing vehicles and sometimes we just want to travel first class, you know with some extra space in the cabin instead of coach. I saw one of these at a recent car show and thought it was a very nice automobile and think it will satisfy many who want a nice touring automobile that is priced within reason. I know some of us have the means to be extravagant and I think that is great, however don't forget the majority still has to make a house payment, buy groceries, clothes for the kids and make a car payment. I applaud GM for bringing out this design which will meet the needs of many. While you may want a V-8, I think they should work on getting a diesel that would get better mileage for this vehicle. And that's the truth.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Just think your one of gm’s newly reformulated dealers of gmc pontiac, buick. You now have 40k inventory of gmc acadias and nearly identical new buick suv’s to clog up your inventory. Pick a winner gm your don’t need all this badge engineering.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I am really suprised that this vehicle came out without AWD. This genre still mystifies me. All the heft, dynamics, performance, cost, and fuel economy of an SUV with none of the towing capacity or ladder frame battering ram. Why not just stick with the more profitable and capable SUVs?

  • avatar
    jdv

    “Robert Farago:
    May 24th, 2007 at 6:47 am

    jurisb:

    There is an English expression: first impressions last. And another: start as you mean to finish.”

    Is that the lesson of Toyota and Honda? ;)
    Incremental improvements can work, it’s just that our domestics don’t have the attention span.

    And personally I think the interior looks great in the photo above.

    I also think it’s funny when 8.2 0-60 is considered slow (for a truck!!). I still remember when NA porsches were above 6.5 seconds 0-60 and we considered them rockets!

  • avatar
    doktorno

    Gray door and dash trim with tan seats and carpet? Sounds like my wife’s new Land Cruiser down to the gray floor mats on the tan carpet. Buick must have hired the blind dude from Toyota.

    I like the look of the Buick. Aluminum v8 would be nice.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Megan,
    I don’t think you fully credit Buick for what is special about the Enclave. First of all, it is a near luxury vehicle. It costs less than a luxury crossover, and it delivers less in terms of sportiness. Would you drive an Acura TL and criticize it for not having a V8 like an E550 or M45?

    That said, this platfrom is unique in that it delivers an actual 3 rows of decent seating with access to the third row. No other vehicle that is not a minivan comes close for a family of 3+ kids. Look at the MDX’s marketing materials — they call it a 4+3 for a reason.

    Buick will sell a lot of these, because they are good vehicles occupying a unique niche.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Buick will sell a lot of these, because they are good vehicles occupying a unique niche.

    Regardless of how good they are, they won’t sell because it’s a Buick. How do you get people into a Buick showroom?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Enclave’s EPA 16/24 rating is by 2008 method, identical to the new Saturn Vue with the 3.6/AWD setup.

    GM’s recent CUV’s are porkier than the competition. Lambda is 4700lbs+, New Vue is 3800-4300lbs. By comparison, the much maligned Ford Freestyle is in the 4000-4100lb range.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    Danielewski the filmmaker, the author, or the musician(POE)? I’m not sure I get the reference.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I like Buicks, even tho my dad had one that died after only about 70K miles. Yes they are soft and cushy, no road feel, numb steering, cushy ride, but those are all good things if you want to take a trip in your living room. Which I like to do occasionally. Perfect for sliding down the interstate.

    Having said that, I cannot imagine anyone who can count who would buy a car that gets 16 mpg these days. Is all that luxury worth mortgaging the house for? Or will it be a moored motor boat, unable to go anywhere because there is not enough money for gas?

    And there are those here who want a V8? Even worse gas milage? Gimme a break. People who buy Buicks do not care about stop light olympics. They want comfort. And if I am not mistaken, good gas economy. GM should concentrate on that.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    for a few thousand dollars less, you can buy either one of the Enclave’s non-identical twins: the Saturn Outlook or GMC Acadia. Or wait for the Chevy version.
    Or just wait until there are a few of these used quints out there and watch the poor-resale-factor kick in.

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    I would have to agree with some of the other comments here, What’s the point? If the intention for a CUV is to be a more care-like, economical SUV, but this totally misses the mark. And how many Buick drivers need to transport 8 people?
    Further, IMO the Acadia is the best looking in the line-up. So what draws someone into a Buick dealership instead of the other badge-engineered siblings.

  • avatar
    windswords

    For once, I have to agree with Jurisb (who'd a thunk it?). I know it's fashionalble to bash GM but I think they have done a good job with this vehicle. Is it perfect? Nope. Will it save the company? Nope. But we've all agreed that no single vehcile will. But if they keep coming out with product like this that meets or beats the competition they have a chance (like a snowball). The Enclave is stylish. Fit and finish look good. It's got room. It handles well (because the only thing that is the same size IS in fact a real truck). It's a lot of car for the money (good value). I've not seen one yet but all the pics I've looked at of the interior look quite good. It has it's own niche (CUV in a big SUV world). Now the bad: it's way too heavy, and therefore doesn't get good MPG. I don't look at it as badge engineering. I look at the Acadia as badge engineering (Why?). They should make a value model for Chevy, The Euro chic for Saturn, and this, as another commenter said, a touring vehicle. Would a small V8 be nice? Yeah, but with gas prices climbing how long would it be till we were bashing GM for doing that?

  • avatar
    ash78

    I’m just hung up on the wood AND metal choice. Did they not get that memo? Wood is traditional luxury and metal is modern/sporty luxury. Never the twain shall meet (that don’t impress me much).

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I may be suffering from hay-fever induced stupidity today, but what’s with the naff name?

    enclave [n] an enclosed territory that is culturally distinct from the foreign territory that surrounds it.

    What’s the cultural distinction here? Where’s the foreign territory? Perhaps Buick is implying this CUV is something special in a sea of mediocrity? Or was it the other way around?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    windswords:
    It handles well (because the only thing that is the same size IS in fact a real truck)

    Unless you’re going to tow >3500lbs or go off-roading regularly, the Honda Odyssey (and Toyota Sienna, albeit lighter) isawfully close in length/width/weight, also carries 7/8 and has more interior cargo space due to location of the spare tire not being under the back of the vehicle.

  • avatar

    The V6 vs. V8 debate goes straight to the heart of the matter: branding. As Paul Neidermeyer's excellent series has proven (Oldsmobile today, Buick tomorrow), Buick can't be all things to all people. But it should differentiate its products from those of Saturn, Chevy, Saab and GMC (to say nothing of Lexus, BMW, Infiniti, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, etc.). Let's say Buick got the style right with the Enclave. So what? Is it it enough to overcome the threat of badge-engineered cannibalism? I don't think so. A V8 engine would have given potential customers a reason to go for the Buick rather than the Saturn, GMC and Chevy versions. AND it would have helped the brand return to its "pace with grace" (I'm stealing from Jag here, but there you go) brand proposition. Bottom line: when you know what your brand is about, every design, engineering, sales and marketing decision becomes no-brainer. V8? Of course. Rear wheel or all wheel-drive? Yup. Plastics upgrade? Are you kidding?  When a brand doesn't stand for anything in particular, self-defeating chaos is inevitable. The Enclave may be a great vehicle, but is it a Buick? What' s one of them anyway? 

  • avatar
    labrat

    As a satisfied Acadia owner (essentially the same vehicle mechanically), I have to say that I think your 1 star ratings for performance and desirability are low. This is by no means a hoonmobile, but the power and torque are more than sufficient, and the engine makes a nice snarl as it revs. My rating = 3 stars. As for the desirability, you have to consider this vehicle for what it is. I probably receive at least one compliment a day on the Acadia from owners of other truck style products (minivans, SUVs and pickups), both foreign and domestic. This vehicle is not desirable in the sports car sense, but it seems to hit the sweet spot with the target market. My desirability rating = 4 stars. I will also say the GM triplets trump the competition in overall space, 3rd seat comfort, and towing capacity (4500 lb), which are considerations for our family. Otherwise, I agree with your other observations. The Acadia has a more coherent, less ADD interior design than the Enclave. It is also available with AWD (we have one), for those who are disputing this.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Buick is a very damaged and neglected brand. I feel too far gone to rebuild and rebrand. Their customer base are the dwindling remains of Oldsmobile and former Buick owners.

    However this is one of the best looking SUVs from GM in a long time. It looks purposeful and a decent and average performer in its class – admirable at best with long term reliability is yet to be proven. However for Buick it is way too little way too late to turn around this brand.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Front wheel drive? That just seems bizarre in this vehicle. Oh well, I kinda dig the interior from the photo. Maybe in person it’s worse.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Robert,
    I don’t think Buick owners are all that confused about what a Buick is. It is a reliable, comfortable, quiet, near luxury, domestic car. It could be a midsized sedan, a large sedan, a crossover and some day perhaps a halo coupe.

    I think the Enclave will do very well because it replaces the Rendezvous (as well as a nondescript minivan and midsized SUV) which sold reasonably well despite being an Aztek with chrome. There is a real market here for 40- and 50- year olds who want something a bit more comfortable and luxurious than a minivan or Suburban.

    As I recall, you own a minivan for times when the Boxster is a bit tight for shlepping around all those girls. Do you not occasionally wish for something a bit more upscale and a bit less mommyvanish?

  • avatar
    Zarba

    The Enclave is a good looking vehicle, and it’s aimed at people like my wife, who want three rows but don’t want to drive a minivan. Funny that the minivan originally became popular because people didn’t want to be seen driving station wagons.

    That being said, the real problem is that it’s a Buick, and GM will soon have 4 versions of this vehicle out there. How can they really support the marketing needed to get through the din and get recognition for 4 essentially identical vehicles?

    Answer: They can’t.

    And that’s why the Enclave will fail. It’s a class-competitive vehicle, with very good fit and finish (if the Acadia is any indication), good performance, and decent mileage (let’s face it, you can’t expect good mileage from 2+ tons of steel box-on-wheels), and exceptional room.

    Unfortunately, GM is marketing against competitors who only have top support one brand in the market, and GM has to spread the money across 4 nameplates.

    Remember the Aura? Won NACOTY, and it’s dying out there because GM can’t support the brand.

    GM needs two versions: One for Chevy with V-6 power, and a luxe model for GMC with a choice of V-6 or V-8 power. Buick is a dead brand walkin’, and the soomer GM cuts its losses, the better off they’ll be.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    I have to disagree with a lot of comments about “badge engineering” here, the Enclave is not a G5. The sheet metal on the 3 Lambda’s do not seem to share any sheet metal and their interiors are fairly unique.

    I agree that Chevrolet should have received a Lambda instead of Saturn, but the Acadia and Enclave are aimed at 2 different demographics, so I don’t see much overlap. In a perfect world GM would have positioned the Lambda’s this way:

    Chevrolet – V6/FWD/affordable
    GMC – V6 or V8/AWD/mid level
    Buick – V8/FWD/luxury

    Just curious, when talking about fuel economy, is everyone comparing 2008 EPA ratings? And how does the Enclave compare to minivans and vehicles like the MDX?

    Also, how does the 0-60 time in a Enclave compare to a minivan since that is really it’s competition?

  • avatar
    ash78

    I give Buick 5-7 years before they are a “China-only” US brand. Apparently that’s the only place they still retain that upwardly-mobile sense of status that they were supposed to have.

    Paul Niedermeyer’s GM Branding series is indeed excellent and I’m learning a lot from it.

  • avatar

    SherbornSean:

    Funny you should mention it. Just this morning I was thinking how much I’d like to trade the Odyssey for a used S55 AMG. Or, less salaciously, an Land Rover LR3 (I heart the American outback).

    And then I thought about the room, comfort, versatility, reliability and practicality of the sliding door van, sighed, and got on with it.

    Never once did I even think about GM’s new, jumbo-sized CUV’s. Why would I? What exactly would I gain by making the switch?

    I reckon CUV’s are the full-size SUV refugee’s halfway house. Good luck with that. I haven’t driven one, but the Enclave looks like a more-than-merely adequate expression of the genre.

    Meanwhile, I still don’t understand what the Enclave has to do with Buick, and vice versa.

  • avatar

    I’m with SkiD666. GM has done a remarkable job differentiating the Enclave from the other two. Between the Acadia and Outlook, not as much on the outside, though the interiors are still very different.

    Perhaps a counterpoint is in order…

    For anyone interested in pricing and such:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Enclave.php

  • avatar
    kaye

    This vehicle will be a success, as it's the first modern Buick to bring something unique & desireable to the table. Units are flying off dealer lots (@MSRP). And its not a sportscar.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, in that first picture, it kind of looks like an overgrown PT cruiser. Note to GM: the PT cruiser came out about 6 years ago, and it was never really that great looking. And from the back, it looks like a flying vagina. (a vagina flew past me the other day, so it’s fresh in my memory)

    And nice job on the fake wood! Good god, they just can’t friggin’ figure things out. If I was in the market for a CUV, I would never even consider this atrocity. I’d jump at the chance to buy a well designed wagon though. Oh wait, GM doesn’t sell any of those over here. Never mind.

    And remember kids, hurry down to your friendly local GM dealer this weekend. 0% financing for anyone with a pulse, and “$1000 bonus cash on select 2006/2007 vehicles”. How can you go wrong?

  • avatar
    ZCline

    Great House of Leaves reference! For those of you who haven’t read it, Check out Mark Z Danielewski’s book “House of Leaves”. Its about, among other things, a house thats somehow bigger on the inside than the outside. Not car related, but it will help slightly with the reference in the third paragraph, and its a great read.

    Well written review, nice to see a female reviewer as well.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Buick will sell a lot of these, because they are good vehicles occupying a unique niche.

    Hmmm, you mean that same massive niche the Chrysler Pacifica was shooting at? There seems to be a whole class of minivans without sliding doors pretending to be something else. Even Mercedes-Benz has one now. Massive porkers pretending to be svelt. If you want a good minivan, just get one!

    Stay tuned, this time next year Enclaves will be available with no money down, 0% financing for 10 years or $5,000 off MSRP!

  • avatar
    craigefa

    “Also, how does the 0-60 time in a Enclave compare to a minivan since that is really it’s competition?”

    Minivans may be what GM hopes to compete against but I think they are competing against their own big SUVs. My guess is that most of the sales are going to come at the expense of Tahoe and Yukon sales. If I replaced my Odyssey with one of these behemoths I would have to raid my 5 year old’s college fund to pay for all of the door dings he’d inflict swinging that giant rear door open.

  • avatar

    Robert Farago “I reckon CUV’s are the full-size SUV refugee’s halfway house.”

    Thats the true market of these vehicles and the reason they will sell a lot of them and why they won’t save GM. These vehicles will be bought by people migrating from the larger truck based SUVs like GMC Envoy. I don’t think GM makes as much money on these as those old truck based monsters though and I don’t think GM counted on the full size SUV market contracting.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Going to have to disagree with Megan on this one. The Enclave is a good looking vehicle and is priced well. If you want luxury Mini-van what are your options? Nothing. If you want the next best thing you are looking at an R class benz of at least 40k and up. Keep in mind the Lambda platform is as big as a Tahoe or Odyssey and offer’s a great deal of room. The Enclave looks attractive, has some nice interior design and is reasonably priced. I’d bet by next model year there will be a V8 with DoD as the range topper. GM said there was room for one when the concept was shown. Currently from what I have read GM is sold out on Enclaves through June with pre-orders of 6500 units. Seems like they are going to do just fine with this one. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if my MIL buys this to replace here mini-van. They will be retirees and love a large, comfortable vehicle for driving back and forth from Florida and Maryland and this would fit the bill perfectly. I have a bit of a bone to pick on performance. When buying vehicle like this you don’t consider performance, you just don’t. A one second difference in 0-60 time is meaningless. I’d gladly give up 2-3 seconds 0-60 to get better gas mileage on my wife’s Odyssey. It would still be fine for merging and I’ve never floored the thing anyway.

  • avatar
    pete

    “An automotive brand whose lack of identity has kept it on life support for well over a decade…”

    I have to disagree – I know what Buick stands for – Old Folk! especially in Florida!

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Robert,
    I definitely hear you on the used S-class. The problem with child carseats is that there are so few vehicles wide enough to put 3 in a row in the back seat, so you are forced into 3 rowed vehicles. And with 99% of the SUV/CUV’s out there that have a nominal third row, entry/exit is so difficult, especially with a carseat in place, that it doesn’t work.

    I was looking at the Pacifica over the weekend, which is a joke inside. Yes, it theoretically seats 6, but if 2 of them need carseats, there is no access to the third row, unless you want to spend 5 minutes unlatching and relatching the carseats every time you pick up a kid from school. Useless.

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    That’s why the American Automotive industry is getting broke. The American Consumer is one of the people responsible for the demise of the American Car Industry.

  • avatar

    Steve_S:

    I’m going to have to disagree with you disagreeing with Megan.

    The Odyssey Touring IS a luxury minivan ($39k msrp). As is the Toyota Sienna Limited ($37k). I’d be hard-pressed to think of any features or toys missing from either vehicle.

    As for comparing the Enclave to the Mercedes R-Class, well, the R-Class is dead in the water.

    And don’t let early pre-orders, sales results or inventory issues convince you of anything. The Enclave is new-to-market.

    The Enclave could well be a limited appeal niche vehicle: once everyone who wants one has one, sales tank.

    The jury is out.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    The logic applied here must be: We failed with the Trailblazer Rainier due to no fault of our own, so let's try it again with an Outlook Enclave and really give it a serious try by adding chrome. Oops, spent too much on the chrome so we have to axe the AWD. Robert hit the nail on the head when he said it's first impressions that count. Without something other than the skin-deep bling factor to attract buyers (how many Buick grannies are into bling anyway?) what value is Buick bringing to the table? I could mentally accept the need for three versions of this travesty CUV if there was some reason for their existence. Saturn: cheap, budget GMC: "sport" utility Buick: luxury & performance. GM seems adept at courting the torque steer gods with their FWD V8s, this should have been served up immediately with a Northstar variant and AWD to tame the unruly demons within. This product will neither differentiate nor resurrect Buick, it's business as usual with a little extra fake wood. Great review Megan! I agree 100%: wood or metal, pick a side and stick to it.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    Megan i think you're being a bit harsh on the styling, its not that bad and definately stands out on the road, pretty unique as some people love it and some people dont, the waiting lists (yes there are waiting lists which is only a good thing). And the interior isn't as garish as you make out, its quite refined and american luxuriant. Wouldnt have worked in a jag but a buick yes. What i would have like to have seen GM do was what Land Rover did with their T5 architecture (LR3 and Range Sport) and allow flexibility to produce variable sized vehicles so that the Buick was smaller, maybe more of a RR sport/FX45 type killer. The Acadia could have been moved up market more, the smaller version would have given you more choice, but still the capacity on the manufacturing side. Why chevy is bringing out their version i dont know. If they're doing that why does saturn need such a vehicle?! Maybe that is down to capacity too or dealer pressure. If they can make this vehicle tow, i cant see the need for the Tahoe etc.

  • avatar
    CellMan

    Wow, I didn’t know there was going to be a Chevy version too! How will the Chevy one differentiate from the Saturn, GMC and Buick versions? The other variants each have their unique look, but exterior appearance and mildly different interiors isn’t enough. Where are the variety of engines, drivetrains, towing capacity perhaps, etc? Slap in a few diesel engine options, shed some massive weight, give it some real relevance in today’s marketplace.

    Just thinking about it, do they really need these when they already have the Suburban (and variants)? How different are they, really?

    To me, this quadruple is nothing more than the new and improved version of GM’s minivans. Poorly differentiated, a bit better executed and as a previous commentator noted, designed to be sold by volume and price, not product.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Steve_S:
    When buying vehicle like this you don’t consider performance, you just don’t. A one second difference in 0-60 time is meaningless. I’d gladly give up 2-3 seconds 0-60 to get better gas mileage on my wife’s Odyssey. It would still be fine for merging and I’ve never floored the thing anyway.

    I agree that balls-out performance is usually not a primary concern when looking at a minivan, but when looking in the crossover/SUV segment power is important. GM likes to think of the Lambda platform as competing with the likes of the Dodge Durango (with the Hemi) and it’s bastard cousin badge engineered sister as well as the Infinity FX and Acura MDX. Despite the fact that mini-van shoppers may cross-shop a Lambda, it shows that GM mistakenly thinks an underpowered front driver can compete with the imports in their perceived segment. Buick is billing this as a luxury segment vehicle which demands a basic level of power (0-60 in 7 seconds would be acceptable) which it does not have.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Somewhat off topic but related:

    How does a 4700lb CUV fit into Saturn’s “all-euro” branding strategy?

    And why is GMC becoming another passenger car brand? These vehicles are giant station wagons. GMC used to be trucks.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    to guyincognito: FYI The Enclave comes in front wheel drive OR all-wheel drive.

    To all—I challenge everyone to look closely at the Enclave and drive it—then reapprise your comments.

    I have seen and driven the Enclave…it is a terrific vehicle.

    Also, please refrain from the “badge job” discussion….because the Enclave IS NOT GM badge engineering we have come to hate—it more mirrors what Toyota has done with the Lexus RX (see Highlander) and Honda has done with the Acura MDX (see Honda Pilot)….most consumers will have no idea that the Enclve is a Saturn Outlook cousin other than the actual size of the vehicle…they look very different from the outside…nothing like each other inside.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I don’t think it’s fair to attack the Enclave for sharing a platform with the Acadia/Outlook.
    The Enclave has a completely unique exterior and unique positioning, and unique options.

    This product seems as differentiated from its platform mates as the xB is from the Blade/Auris/Matrix or the TBAGing TSX is from the Accord.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    There seems to be alot of question as to who makes up the market for GM.

    A close friend just shopped the enclave against a Q7, a slightly used STS, and a lucerne. While he is GM faithful, he has owned Audi, MB, and many others. He bought the Lucerne in full tilt boogie trim.

    As a GenXer, I would love for Buick to go after the Lincoln refugees like myself. Build me a modern retro wildcat with the flavor of a 64 Lincoln four door convertible. Pinky finger variable assist steering, a velvet smooth 87octane northstar efficient V8 (that doesnt eat oil please), and a real chrome hood ornament….I will write the check.

  • avatar

    Again, I refer you to Mr. Neidermeyer’s series.

    Sheetmetal-based brand/model differentiation ain’t enough.

    What’s it gonna take for GM’s defenders– including the people who run the company– to understand this basic point?

  • avatar

    from the back it looks like a Tribeca.

  • avatar

    Bill Wade:
    Regardless of how good they are, they won’t sell because it’s a Buick. How do you get people into a Buick showroom?

    The vehicle already has a back-logged waiting list of 10,000 pre-orders that will take the end of July to finish. The fact is there are a lot of people (in the 45-60 bracket) who like how this vehicle looks and feels. Alot of people comment on the badge engineering side, but GM’s new emphasis is distinguishing through style and perceived refinement in interiors. Most massed produced cars ,these days , are identical, even though they were totally engineered separately. Most OEM’s buy there parts to reach economies of scale, meaning most vehicles are the same except for the styling, type and shape.

  • avatar
    DrBrian

    can someone explain why 8.4 seconds to sixty is slow and why you need to be able to punt lifestyle offroader to sixty in under ten seconds?

  • avatar
    windswords

    starlightmica:
    May 24th, 2007 at 9:13 am
    windswords:
    It handles well (because the only thing that is the same size IS in fact a real truck)

    Unless you’re going to tow >3500lbs or go off-roading regularly, the Honda Odyssey (and Toyota Sienna, albeit lighter) isawfully close in length/width/weight, also carries 7/8 and has more interior cargo space due to location of the spare tire not being under the back of the vehicle.

    starlightmica, you are correct. Minivans ARE better than SUV’s for the situations you described. BUT many people will not buy a more practical minivan because of the image problem. Believe I know because I could not convince my wife to get one, she had to have the SUV instead. She said a minivan would say that she is a mom with no life. And we have only one child. So IF (many of) your customers are not going to buy a minivan no matter how great they are then it makes sense to come up with something like the Enclave.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Good review, though I think they did a good job badge engineering this rig. It kinda reminds me of the 1995 Aurora. Well, until you see the distinctly un-Buick powertrain under the hood. Its a great package in the Aura, but that’s not enough juice to feed a big-ass CUV.

    Buicks are supposed to be effortless and strong, that’s not the powertrain for a Luxury CUV. Fuel economy? Not a big concern at this price point. Its Northstar time?

    My first thoughts on the interior were that the designers got newfound managerial freedom to do whatever they wanted, and subsequently went nuts in there. There are way too many shapes and textures and I really dislike the dull colors that don’t work with each other.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Farago:
    “Sheetmetal-based brand/model differentiation ain’t enough.
    What’s it gonna take for GM’s defenders– including the people who run the company– to understand this basic point?”

    The Enclave is a terrific vehicle. What’s it gonna take for the GM Bashers—including journalists-to understand this basic point. I believe Megan picked the wrong vehicle in the Enclave to underpin the “GM is a mess” arguement. Stick to the Uplander….there is plenty of material there.

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    GM’s hope is that Buick = high style, smooth ride, quiet and superior fit and finish. There is a decent fit to where Buick has been back in “the day”.

    I agree this should have offered a V8 from the start but I suspect it was taking too long so they came to market without.

    Chevy was not supposed to get this line of vehicles since they already had Tahoe, TrailBlazer EXT, and Uplander that all fit the bill. Well, now that only Tahoe remains, they need a vehicle like this.

    These vehicle are big and a suitable vehicle for those wanting to seat 6-8 and/or needing to haul more gear and/or tow up to 4500 lbs which is 1000 more than minivans.

    I would like to have seen an interior that chose wood or metal. That said, I agree with the few posters that were brave enuff to state the design is appealing.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    windswords:

    Bummer about your wife’s resistance. Does money talk? CUV’s are more expensive.

    We have two minivans in the household, Sienna and Mazda5, although with 3 little kids there’s not much of a life outside of family ;)

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    couldnt agree more umterp85, glass was half full on this one.

  • avatar

    umterp85:

    Simply proclaiming the Enclave’s fundamental excellence (which I am NOT disputing) does not address my point about Buick’s branding.

    As Al Reis says, branding doesn’t reside in the product. It lives in the consumer’s mind. A brand must occupy a coherent and easily assimilated mindspace.

    Quick! What’s Buick’s tagline? What do they stand for?

  • avatar

    Smsum2: The vehicle already has a back-logged waiting list of 10,000 pre-orders that will take the end of July to finish. According to Automotive News last week, "GM has about 9,500 early dealer orders" for the Enclave. That's dealer orders, not "here's my deposit, we want one as soon as you get it" orders. Spread across the approximate 2700 Buick dealers, that's only 3.5 orders per dealer. And since some of these dealer orders have to be so they can have one or two on the lot in case someone wants to drive one, I don't think I'd be popping the champaign corks just yet. Of course, when you're talking about a brand whose dealers only averaged selling 6 cars per month over the past 4 months, I guess ordering an additional 3.5 vehicles would be a big deal.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    The Honda Odyssey is a great vehicle and has made me a mini-van convert but it isn’t luxury (no dual LCD screens in the seat backs, no “Vista Roof” type option, auto sunshades, heated rear seats, auto fold 3rd row, 4-wheel steering, etc.). It may cost near luxury bit it isn’t. Granted luxury people movers are a niche market and many that are fine with a mini-van don’t really care about the cache of a luxury name. It’s still a market worth exploring and how better to do that then with a platform that shares its development cost with 2-3 other models and spices it up with pretty sheetmetal and luxury components. Not every Sky buyer would have bought a Solstice yet it doesn’t cost GM much more to have both models. It’s a smart move by GM, although I would have added a V8 DoD option from the get go.

    While the Enclave might be niche and taper off like a lot of other models do after initial demand is met I still think it will do respectively.
    I can’t find fault with GM providing an alternative to a Tahoe, Suburban or Expedition. In reality the current CUV models from cute-ute to the Lambdas are what 95% of SUV’s should have been anyway; we are just now getting around to it.

    If a car make really wanted to be progressive I suggest that you would be able to special order a platform and choose from 3-5 different bodystyles among other options and have it made to order. Its all just sheetmetal and interior trim combined with different suspensions, wheels and etc. from the parts bins. Why can’t you go into a Ford dealer pick the Fusion (aka Mazda6) platform and pick sedan, liftback, sportback, wagon, or ute package. Add on you want the sportback with AWD and Ford racing suspension and blue seats and the optional turbo 4 cylinder. Full customization from modular components and nothing made until you placed the order. The car delivered is exactly as you want it and express who you are.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Farago: "Simply proclaiming the Enclave’s fundamental excellence (which I am NOT disputing) does not address my point about Buick’s branding. As Al Reis says, branding doesn’t reside in the product. It lives in the consumer’s mind. A brand must occupy a coherent and easily assimilated mindspace. Quick! What’s Buick’s tagline? What do they stand for?" Rome wasn't built in a day—-Buick won't be re-built in a day either….but the progress in the last 2 years is noticeable. They are striving for vehicles that stand for upscale elegance, quality look and feel, at a reasonalble price. I believe both the Lucerne and Enclave deliver on this promise. The Lucerne and Enclave launches are the first steps—the question is whether there is time for Steps 2 and beyond to continue rebuilding the Buick brand—I hope this is the case…don't you ?

  • avatar

    umterp85: I would love to see a resurgent Buick and, for that matter, GM. But surely Buick would have been better off building some Camcord-killing passenger cars (I'm looking at YOU Chinese Buicks) than launching this, um, thing.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “Quick! What’s Buick’s tagline? What do they stand for?”
    – RF

    I did the experiment, and came up “Premium American Motorcars”. I know that isn’t the current one. How far back does it go?

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Farago: “But surely Buick would have been better off building some Camcord-killing passenger cars (I’m looking at YOU Chinese Buicks) than launching this, um, thing.

    As stated—-this, um, Enclave is a terrific vehicle…Step 1 if you will (btw wasn’t the thing a VW…the Enclave looks nothing like it) Step 2 and beyond SHOULD include a vehicle like the Velite concept and a strong look at the Chinese Buicks as well. If this happens—then we are talking about a rebuilt Buick. I am glad you are rooting for this prospect as well !

  • avatar
    mastermik

    “Quick! What’s Buick’s tagline? What do they stand for?” – RF.
    are you asking what it is, or what it should be? For the former, I dont know, but then again, the only tagline that people really know is BMW’s “ultimate driving machine” thing. MB and others probably all have one, but no one really knows, regardless of the fact that they build great cars. If you’re asking the latter, then I think the image people have of buick is golf playing old folks that have the money for luxury.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    At this point, what is the point? There are many alternatives to this vehicle, and few are even shopping for Buicks anymore. The price of fuel probably will continue at the meltdown your credit card at the pump pirces, so unless the latest offering from Buick gets north of 30 mpg, it will fall flat. Look for huge incentives on it soon. On another note, living in California these days is, well, expensive. I was filling up by car at the pump the other day, and the lady next me was doing the same to her Ford Expedition. Cost her $110.00 to do so. Looks like all hell may break loose in the middle east, if that happens, calculate a doubling of oil prices, and say, 10k rebates on Buicks.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    hltguy: I am quite sure there AREN’T many people shopping for Buicks in California. But back here in flyover land Buicks do sell….at a rate much greater than Acura, Infiniti, and other pseudo lux brands. You may not care in California…but some do care that an iconic American brand survives and thrives; the Enclave is a good first step.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Okay, first off, I don’t know how GM squeezed an 8.4s 0-60 out of this pig. It probably involved a rolling start, a stiff tailwind, and at least a 7% grade.

    I stand firmly by my one star for performance. Believe it or not, I didn’t say, “Ah, it’s not like, STI fast, so it stinks.” The throttle response was crap. Downshifting was an immense chore. Upshifting arrived so early that it resulted in a significant decrease in power from one gear to the next. Buick did this in the interest of good gas mileage, but the Odyssey weighs a supermodel less, has a smaller, less powerful engine, and manages better gas mileage (and is only a hair slower on the 0-60). The MDX has a larger, more powerful engine, and manages near the same gas mileage (better city, worse highway) and is significantly faster. The Enclave’s sixth gear helps out highway mileage the most, more than stingy shifting. The Enclave is pretty typical of GM’s engines… not tuned half as well as they could be.

    Re: Desirabilty; Giant CUVs are not popular. They are a novelty, just like 300s and PT Cruisers. Eventually the novelty wears off, and dealer inventory stacks up. The gas mileage is too low for the market right now, which I’m sure won’t help. Desirability is not high on this thing, despite an unexpected amount of dealership demand. Notice I didn’t say ‘high.’

    Some may find this interesting. After putting the Enclave through its paces, I stepped into an MDX and had a lovely chat with the salesguy. He had a used Enclave already, with only a couple thousand miles on it. Older couple bought it (thinking near-luxury-class meant something), hated it, and traded it in for an MDX. You simply cannot even compare the two, though Buick wants you to believe you can. If you want an attractive soft-roader and need to tote the extended family about, you’ll probably be fine with it… compared to many other 3-row vehicles, it’s much nicer (the Land Cruiser comes to mind). If you want luxury or performance, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Hence the middle of the road rating.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    mastermik, the only other tag line I could think of off the top of my head was “zoom zoom”. I could maybe think of two, but I’m praying that Chevy’s is NOT “This is our country.”

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    It took me a couple of hours, but I finally came up with “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”
    Apparently most would answer “No”

  • avatar

    Buick’s tagline is “Beyond Precision”. Into what? Oblivion?

    Pontiac’s tagline is “We build excitement.” Such as the excitement you get when you floor a Grand Am and it either torque steers wildly or understeers you over a cliff.

    Chevrolet: “An American revolution”. Starting with the Daewoo Lacetti…errrr… Chevrolet Optra/Suzuki Reno and the Mexico Silverado.

    Cadillac: “Life, Liberty and The Pursuit.” (Of Toyota, Honda and BMW).

    Saab: “Born from Jets”. Funny, most jets require less time in the shop than most Saabs. I keed, I keed.

    Hummer: “Like nothing else”. This is probably the only one that is pretty decent.

    GMC: “Professional grade.” As opposed to what? Amateur grade…errrr…on 2nd thought.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Samir:

    Don’t forget Saturn: “Rethink Belgian.” “Rethink Mexican-Korean.”

  • avatar
    tpapay

    Well, we’re from the get-rid-of-the-minivan group. We’ve got big kids & little kids and the only way to fit them into a non-minivan that doesn’t cost as much as my first house and gets OK mileage with REAL 3rd row seating are the Enclave sisters and the Mazda CX-9. Although, the CX-9 offers real third row seating, that swooping roof will create a bald spot on anyone 5’10″ & taller. Would someone confirm if Enclave has the same head-room compared to the Acadia?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Off topic, but I like the GMC “Professional Grade” positioning — essentially the DeWalt of trucks. Whether the product line is consistent with the positioning is a story for another day, although my guess is that Paul should get to it by Tuesday.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    umterp85: Please understand I do care what happens to American companies, I too hope GM survives. But I differ with you in that I think reality reflects Buicks are hardly selling anywhere (unless it is to rental car companies). The average Buick dealer sells something like SIX new Buicks a month. Your statement “that you may not care in California” reflects a huge problem for GM, they have essentially lost the largest market in the U.S., California, and probably with little prospect of gaining any of the market share back. “Fly over” country will not enable them to survive. The fact is, while the new Bucik may be nice and better than previous Buicks, it remains a gas guzzler in todays market that is faced with enormous competition. Not many people are going to buy it and you will see significant incentives on GM in the not too distant future on it. The second half of this year will be very telling for the U.S. auto makers, fuel prices are going to continue to decimate the sales of the larger (and more profitable) vehicles. Again, the new Buick may be very nice, however it is the wrong time and place for it.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Megan Benoit:
    “Okay, first off, I don’t know how GM squeezed an 8.4s 0-60 out of this pig. It probably involved a rolling start, a stiff tailwind, and at least a 7% grade”

    A few other resources for Truth:
    -C/D clocked an AWD Acadia 0-60 in 8.1 seconds.
    -Edmunds got a FWD Outlook 0-60 in 8.2 seconds.
    -M/T needed 8.4 seconds to get an AWD Acadia to 60.

    Gee, all those ugly chrome and wood accents must really weigh down the Enclave vs. its supposed identical twins…

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    The absolute “base” MDX comes in at a little over 38K according to Edmunds TMV. Am quite sure that am MDX with options that would make it comparable to the standard equipment of the Buick would be well north of 40K. Hardly seems a fair comparison. I would submit that the 0-60 mph issue is a “red herring”. The average buyer of a vehicle of this class could care less.

  • avatar

    Mica,

    Saturn’s new byline is “Like always. Like never before.”

    You can suggest your theory on what the hell that means.

  • avatar
    Terry

    AKILEZ:
    May 24th, 2007 at 11:22 am

    That’s why the American Automotive industry is getting broke. The American Consumer is one of the people responsible for the demise of the American Car Industry.

    You just dont get it, do ya?? It isnt up to the US consumer to support the car companies, rather it’s up to the car companies to support the consumer. And evidently many no longer feel they do, hence the mass exodus from traditional US car companies.
    BTW..the wife LOVES our Mazda5. Smooth, quiet, much faster, better handling and quieter than the MPV it replaced…and 30 mpg too!!

  • avatar
    windswords

    “Re: Desirabilty; Giant CUVs are not popular. They are a novelty, just like 300s and PT Cruisers.”

    Over 1 MILLION PT Cruisers have been sold since it was introduced, it seems, forever ago. So far this year they have sold about 40,000 which looks like 90 some k for the year, so yes they are tapering off (last years sales were 120k +). I know what you were trying to say but the PT was not the best example to use. I could think of plenty of foreign models to fit the novelty description.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    hltguy: The TRUTH is that the Enclave is no more a gaz guzzler than any of its closest competitors including the Honda Pilot, Acura MDX, or Mazda CX-9….the MPG arguement seems to be another red herring.

    Also, The TRUTH is that the Buick brand (damaged as it is) outsells both Acura, and Infiniti….and I am quite sure that most (75% +) of the units Buick moves are retail vs rental.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Gee, I’m sad to have to say that the Enclave has more Rendevous in its DNA than Acadia/Outlook. Pretty ugly!

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I wouldn’t put money on that retail/fleet sales, at least not consistently for the past year.

    But its a safe bet that the margins on retail Acura/Infinitis are way better than Buicks. And the FX is RWD with an optional V8, which is the proper foundation for a real Buick.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    If you visit a GMC/Pontiac/Buick dealership (I’m betting many who post here would never even consider the concept of doing so), you will see the future of the brands – all will have a much more limited line of models designed to be sold in the same showroom.

    Buick – Enclave, Lucerne, and LaCrosse
    Pontiac – G5, Vibe, G6, Grand Prix, Soltice, and a car based CUV – the Torrent
    GMC – Acadia – the rest trucks.

    If anyone needs trimmed, it is Pontiac, not Buick. The only overlap is the Enclave/Acadia and the Grand Prix/LaCrosse. My understanding is the Grand Prix will be moving to rear wheel drive soon enough.

    Once Ford is done destroying Mercury, I’ll be moving over to Buick unless they make their products too Japanese in design – then I guess I’ll have to buy used cars.

  • avatar
    Luther

    “Pontiac’s tagline is “We build excitement.””

    I always thought it was “We build excrement”. My buddy lost a Grand Prix in a corner and thats what he discovered “built-up” in his pants after he hit the telephone pole. Gots to love that “exciting” 20 year old W-Body chassis.

  • avatar

    I think the review is great entertaining and professional. It is after all an opinion. Keep up the good work Megan. I may not always agree with your reviews but they are well written and entertaining as well as informative

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    MsS42

    Cashmere? Cocoa? Grey and brown are grey and brown. My apologies for not using the Buick-approved terminology.

    GM compares the Enclave to the MDX and CX9 since they are the next largest crossovers. In fact, one of the car magazines (C&D?) did a shootout between the three. Edmunds, when you say “Compare similar models” pulls up those two, along with a couple others. So I’m not the first to compare them, and I won’t be the last. I never said that the Enclave didn’t look good, or didn’t have a lot of room inside, or wouldn’t meet some people’s needs. It seems you may agree with me more than you think.

    If you don’t like the term “WTF factor,” you may want to stay away from the B9 Tribeca review.

  • avatar
    mastermik

    I thought the review was actually alright… Although I do think that some credit is due to GM for building the enclave – People were so excited when it debuted, even as a concept. It is my humble opinion that Megan could have given them some props, at least.
    DRM – How does one go about accelerating from ZERO to 60 starting from a non-zero speed (rolling start)?

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    -C/D clocked an AWD Acadia 0-60 in 8.1 seconds.
    -Edmunds got a FWD Outlook 0-60 in 8.2 seconds.
    -M/T needed 8.4 seconds to get an AWD Acadia to 60.

    AWD adds a good 200 lbs to each vehicle over the base weight. But it helps on the 0-60 to put more power down at the wheels. And the Enclave is 50 lbs heavier than its sisters. So there’s your disparity. I generally try to look at aggregate figures (or consumer reports) for more ‘realistic’ figures, since magazines tend to push the vehicles in ways that the ordinary person would not. Regardless, it feels sluggish and underpowered for that much weight. Not luxury at all, and not that great of gas mileage for the performance trade, either.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Okay, my 0-60 comment was intended as exaggeration, and I meant it as rolling from 30mph, not just ‘not stopped.’ That should have been clearer. It was a joke, and a reference to how unreliable 0-60 measurements are in the real world and the lengths automakers (and reviewers) go to to get better times.

    I was looking at the pictures and the door trim is more of a brown than a gray (charcoal gray is one color, not two)… the one I test drove looked gray to me, but it was very cloudy outside and that may have been why. It still doesn’t match anything in particular on the inside. So perhaps I was incorrect. Scratch charcoal gray, and replace with dismal brown.

    Guys, don’t get me wrong, the Enclave is nice in many ways, and I indicated such in my review. If I needed to haul 7 people on a constant basis and didn’t want a minivan, it’d probably be at the top of my list. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have flaws. GM/Buick still has a lot of room for improvement if they want to compete with anyone, much less themselves. It is above average in some areas, and below in others, hence the average being, well, average. Nothing wrong with that. Given that most of Buick’s vehicles are so far below average, it’s a good start for them.

  • avatar
    waywardboi

    for what it’s worth it’s a nice design just wish their cars were nicer!!!

  • avatar
    mastermik

    but every vehicle has flaws… certainly a vehicle in this price range. I mean lets face it, if people could build fantastic cars without any flaws and sell em at these prices, they probably already would. So, I think some slack is to be cut for achieving a certain balance of every desirable trait. Its possible to stress on certain things (power – cayenne, style – FX, etc) and jack up the prices. But of course, that’s why a balanced design always appears unappealing. Anywho, another point I wanted to mention is that 0-60 times MIGHT be relevant in the sense that, if a car is able to handle business under those situations, then mundane everyday driving would be much less of a hassle, completely effortless and that much more enjoyable.

    - megan, are you the same person who wrote that tantalizing piece on pagani’s factory in italy and about his designs? (I do believe that was written by a woman, though I dont recall the name). That was a great article and if anyone knows where (on TTAC) it is, please post a link.

  • avatar

    Mastermik, here’s the link to Samantha St. James’ piece on the Pagani:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1623

  • avatar
    Terry

    “Once Ford is done destroying Mercury, I’ll be moving over to Buick unless they make their products too Japanese in design – then I guess I’ll have to buy used cars.”
    What does THAT mean? If the cars are too efficient, too well screwed together, keep their resale value??
    Abandoning Mercury for Buick must be like jumping from the Titanic to the Lusitania.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Nice one, Terry!

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    umterp85, thanks for bringing the truth about fuel economy back to the discussion.

    Megan, tell me you weren’t trying to compare the Enclave fuel economy to old data for the Odyssey and MDX?

    Here are the revised numbers by the EPA according to the new formulas. (as posted at epa.gov)

    Enclave 2wd 16/24 awd 16/22
    Odyssey 2wd 16/23 awd n/a
    MDX …………..awd 15/20 ($ premuim gas!)
    Mazda 9 2wd 16/22 awd 15/21

    I think we have a winner. If all you readers are truly objective and appreciate the truth, I trust the new “pig” just got a little prettier.

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    I think the Enclave is a good match for where GM is trying to take Buick. BTW, Buick has excellent quality and good reliability marks over the last many years. For those of you who might scoff, what think ye of the Mazda 9?

  • avatar
    Jim H

    This is the first advertising (critique) I’ve seen for the Buick Enclave. I’d like to go by the dealer to see the interior as the photo doesn’t look too bad…but I can’t tell if that’s dark grey trim touching a dark brown interior trim. That’d be fingernails on a chalkboard to me. :)

  • avatar
    mastermik

    Thank you so much Frank Williams. time to go read.. :)

  • avatar
    bmilner

    It'd be interesting to expand on why 0-60 times have little to do with how *fast* a car feels. Megan says the buick's slow, but it's faster 0-60 than my 4-motion passat which feels fast to most folks (torquey good-vibe engine, 0-60 8.7sec). Is it the throttle lag, the powerband, the sound? Why do the 0-60 times seem to matter so little?

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    A car’s minimum 0-60 time (which is what gets published) has little bearing on how the car feels when you’re driving it. I still am not entirely sure how they got such a time out of it, considering it has an automatic tranny and the shiftable transmission doesn’t really allow you to redline it — it’s not a tiptronic where you can tell it to only shift when you tell it to. You can just tell it to upshift or downshift. In a practical sense, the 0-60 is probably nowhere near the published figures. The times were meant to illustrate the difference between the Enclave and other vehicles. It may be fast compared to some, but the standards are rising.

    Like I said, I was still very disappointed with the engine’s overall performance. 0-60 is a small portion of overall performance, which included serious throttle lag, very delayed downshifting, and upshifting early, which left the Enclave feeling even slower. I can’t imagine tackling a major uphill grade in it without being forced to downshift several gears — and with 7 passengers? I’m sure it’s even slower. Got a short onramp? Good luck with that. To me, the real world stuff is more important, hence the low score.

    Even the magazines can’t get it right — look at the stats someone else posted. It’s the exact same engine in all 3 vehicles — the numbers should be identical, and possibly a hair slower for AWD versions, and another hair slower for the heavier Enclave. But when it’s probably a second behind its competitors, all you can say is that it’s slower. And that’s all I said.

  • avatar
    bmilner

    Thanks, Megan. Glad to see that expanded on. I’ve seen various authors comment on vehicles being slow, accompanied by a 0-60 time that appears fast. Glad to see an expanded comment about how the car feels in addition to the raw statistics.

  • avatar
    Mark A

    I still am not entirely sure how they got such a time out of it, considering it has an automatic tranny and the shiftable transmission doesn’t really allow you to redline it — it’s not a tiptronic where you can tell it to only shift when you tell it to.

    The 6 speed in the Enclave shifts like any other automatic when accelerating from a stop. Its shift points are near redline. With the manual-shift feature, you can rev it until it hits redline, where it will hold for just a second then upshift. Downshifting, it similarly holds off if it would over-rev. It will wait to shift down until it would be under redline in the requested gear. It’s not a Porsche (or Ferrari, or Aston) so I’d imagine GM programmed it to be safe rather than extract the ‘nth’ degree of performance.

    As mentioned, the fuel economy is actually pretty good for a 5000 pound slug; no worse than its smaller competitors. The front drive 2007 versions of the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook had 26 mpg EPA freeway ratings. They lose 2 mpg with the ratings changes for 2008.

    I drove one recently and was impressed overall, and the pearl white version with chrome wheels was downright sexy for something that hauls seven.

  • avatar
    mrdweeb

    Have any of you ever worked in “plastics”? I question whether the “hard” vs. “soft” critique concerns cost-savings, particularly in the context of a $40,000 vehicle.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Great review, ESPECIALLY on the interior, FINALLY someone calls out this vehicle on its haphazardly designed, clashing/ugly interior. Props on this one

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Also, awesome final paragraph, that pretty much sums everything up nicely.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I drove one recently and was impressed overall, and the pearl white version with chrome wheels was downright sexy for something that hauls seven.

    Isn’t it, though? I think that Buick’s pearl white is hands down the best I’ve ever seen. Absolutely gorgeous.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Mark A: Just because the fuel economy is good for a bloated, overweight vehicle hardly makes that mpg acceptable. Yes, you say it gets 26 on the highway, but the reality is it probably won’t, not with a load of passengers or stuff, and certainly not with all of that around town. There’s no need to justify bad fuel economy by saying it’s good for a vehicle of it’s size, “But 14 mpg is good for a Suburban!”, that doesn’t make it any more logical or acceptable. Also, I don’t think Megan is expecting its transmission to resemble one that’s found in an exotic sports car, but rather something that is mildly palatable to drive, as opposed to utterly frustrating and inconvenient.

  • avatar
    wsn

    umterp85:

    Also, The TRUTH is that the Buick brand (damaged as it is) outsells both Acura, and Infiniti….and I am quite sure that most (75% +) of the units Buick moves are retail vs rental.

    The truth is that Buick is not a luxury brand. Since Acura outsells Mercedes, does that mean Buick is better than Mercedes too?

  • avatar
    Mark A

    LamborghiniZ: Just because the fuel economy is good for a bloated, overweight vehicle hardly makes that mpg acceptable… There’s no need to justify bad fuel economy by saying it’s good for a vehicle of it’s size, “But 14 mpg is good for a Suburban!”, that doesn’t make it any more logical or acceptable.

    I was pointing out that the Enclave earned equal or higher EPA freeway ratings than vehicles in its class, including Odyssey, Sienna, MDX, Pilot, Highlander, CX9, Veracruz, and many others. I’m not aware of any getting significantly better fuel economy, but maybe someone will correct me.

    You may debate the relevance (or social responsibility) of large vehicles in the marketplace, but that’s an entirely different topic.

    Since when was 26 mpg “bad fuel economy?”

  • avatar
    cfisch

    Gas mileage – The Enclave is a 2008 which has totally new ratings system. Then compare, there will be alot of suprises.

    The Enclave is a very capable machine! Certainly not for everyone but better than alot of the competition. Anyone making comments from pictures is nuts!

  • avatar
    mastermik

    About the interior – The Aston Martin Rapide pulls off the metal on wood look perfectly. Its a precious interior. Just saying the two are not mutually exclusive – if done right…

  • avatar
    delmartian

    Megan, Thanks for the review but what is the baseline you are using for the Enclave? I like the handling and power of the Acura MDX but at what cost? Its another ten thousand plus. I like the Mazda CX-9 and its cost is competitive but its 3rd row is smaller and the cargo area is lots smaller. Personally I am comparing the Enclave to other baseline comparisons, Denali, Escalade, Lexus LX-470 and Mercedes Benz GL and its kicking butt in a lot of categories especially cost and gas mileage. 

  • avatar
    peckwell

    Buick has finally produced something that's a cut above, something that plays into a serious automotive "sales" trend, and you call it a "badge enginered bone". First off, there's nothing badge engineered about the Enclave. If you want badge engineering, go look at the Cobalt and G5. That, and only that, is badge engineering. You know, removing a badge from one make and replacing it with another. Difficult to accept in the Chevy/Pontiac case, acceptable in the case of Opel/Saturn, and clearly not the case here. Next, the Enclave is a pretty strong statement of Buick's Near Luxury mission. It looks good, even stylish, and will give the Japanese luxury marques something to worry about. IS it a car? No, but what the hell? It nails a particular segment in the Industry and is a fine effort. Lastly (for this reply), wood and metal finishes are almost de riguer in a luxury/near luxury auto. Would you ake the same "pick one and stick with it" statement in an Acura? This car/CUV/Thing is a big step in the right direction for Buick, and strikes me as a game changer, proof that Buick can build products that people would want.

  • avatar
    zenith

    This porker is almost 1/2 ton heavier than the out-going Rendezvous, yet it gets just slightly less EPA gas mileage; due to improved engine and drivetrain technologies.

    What if GM told the engineers and stylists that this vehicle could not weigh any more than its predecessor? Just think of how much more economical , how much quicker, how much better-handling this vehicle could have been minus 800-1000 lbs.

  • avatar

    Megan, I’ve read your review and every post you’ve made in the replies section and I’m absolutely baffled at your logic. Where to start…

    “calling a vehicle of the Enclave’s epic dimensions a crossover forces us to expand the genre’s definition from “cute ute”… ”

    A CUV is defined as an automobile with a sport utility vehicle appearance but is built upon a more economical and fuel-efficient unibody construction. Size has NOTHING to do with its description. The Lambdas are indeed classic CUVs by definition.

    You’ve been beat to death on acceleration, but by your own admission, you simply collate (or randomly pick and choose) various sources for your comparison. Bottom line, the Enclave has MORE horsepower and torque than the CX-9 and it within a few tenths of a second in both 0-60 and ONE TENTH in the quarter mile, all while having more room & cargo space, a much more usable 3rd row AND better fuel economy! Comparing it to the $10-15 THOUSAND more (and MUCH lighter and smaller) MDX is laughable, and it still comes close. But these are 3 row people haulers. NOBODY CARES! That’s an irrelevant stat to 99% of this vehicle’s target audience.

    I guess my main bone to pick with your article is why you would choose acceleration as your big comparison against its rivals rather than cargo/passenger space, 3rd row seating and access, ride comfort and fuel economy – you know, the things that might actually matter to someone trying to decide which 7/8 passenger people hauler to purchase? The Enclave beats all competitors in all of those areas, but not once do you mention that.

    Wouldn’t that be exactly the same as me writing a review on a Porsche 911 Turbo and saying “Sure it’s faster, better looking, better handling and costs much less than its competition, but its trunk space is at LEAST a cubic foot less. When will Porsche get it? I’ll pass!”

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I didn’t like the acceleration — so what? That composed a small fraction of the review (very small), and my low assessment of the performance included more than that, it included the sluggish six-speed transmission as well. Engine performance is just one small facet of the review, and in case you aren’t aware, I’m not the only reviewer out there that found it wanting. Everything else you mentioned? Guess what — I mentioned it as a positive too, using terms like ‘bigger on the inside than it is on the outside’ and ‘wonderful ride.’ I fail to see where I neglected those areas, and an astonishing number of people in this thread that disagreed with me actually agreed with me on a great number of things.

    For what it’s worth, the 3rd row access on the Enclave STINKS compared to a minivan. With that giant console in between the 2nd row seating, it means you have to move the seats forward to get to the back row. No matter how you cut it, if you’ve got more than one kid in a child seat, it means the seat has to come out in order to get someone into the back. Inconvenient on many levels. Yes, the space back there is very nice, but most won’t even use it. How many times do you haul 7-8 people in a vehicle at a time? Odds are, you’re just like every other minivan/CUV driver I know — 80% of the vehicle’s use consists of the driver alone. So how is that experience for the driver? You may not care, but a lot of people do, since they’re the ones who will be driving it. Which means they care about stuff like performance and handling and acceleration, fuel economy be damned. Is it *fun to drive* compared to other vehicles? Not really. And all the unused third-row space in the world won’t make up for that.

  • avatar

    You didn’t like the acceleration, fair enough. My point was, that’s the only time you mentioned a head-to-head comparison with the competition. You do say “it’s big on the inside”, but never did you actually compare its cargo capacity with the MDX or CX-9 like you did acceleration. Nor fuel economy, etc.

    You never mentioned the upcoming Transmission reflash that will dramatically improve shift patterns that’s in the works.

    The 2nd row console that you complain about is an optional feature that isn’t even available yet. That means anyone buying an Enclave will have exceptionally easy access to the third row, just like a minivan.

    Several people have wished for an AWD model. Since you failed to mention it in your review, I’ll let them know that there is, indeed, an AWD model available for an additional $2000.

    Finally, I have to disagree with your 3rd row use assessment. I know that MANY people will shop these Lambdas that have more than 1 child seat. The ability to have both captains chairs occupied with child seats while still having easy access to a usable third row means that you don’t need to haul 7 or 8 passengers for it to be useful. Only three.

    It’s true that you do have a lot of good things to say about the Enclave in your review, but the way that you present them comes off as backhanded complements compared to picking the one negative aspect and using that as your head to head comparison. Overall, I was left with a very negative feel from your review, which the facts simply don’t back up. I feel like you really missed an opportunity for a complete review because of a lack of research. I think it’s only fair to point some of these out to your readers so they can make a more accurate judgment on the Enclave.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to express my opinion along with yours!

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I only have 800 words. What I choose to put in there is my choice. I did not mention the AWD option, my bad, but someone else in the comments cleared that up.

    I was not aware of a transmission reflash. Hopefully it does fix the shifting issues. If it does, I’d give it 2 stars instead for performance. Maybe.

    Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. I suppose if one sets their standards low enough, every car that is reviewed here is spectacular.

  • avatar
    BlissDDS

    Dear Megan,
    While I applaud you for your entertaining, creative review I must let you know that I was confused after reading your comments and then test driving the Enclave. I am an early 30′s guy that is deciding between the Q7, the Enclave, and the Lexus GX470. After reading your review I pictured the Enclave to be about the size of the MDX or the CX9 because your comment about these cars being natural rivals to the Enclave. After visiting a Buick dealership I was amazed at how much larger the Enclave was, in fact the only car that I have test driven to this date with similar dimensions and interior space is the Audi Q7, we are leaning away from the Lexus because of the 3rd row of seats being too small. The MDX and the CX9 are both too small for my purposes (family and cargo) but the Enclave being so much larger fits those needs nicely. I was also impressed with the options and the luxury of the vehicle even after driving the Q7 (especially since the Enclave is $15K less with comparable options and accessories.) It was so nice that I am really having a difficult time justifying the extra money for the Audi especially when reliability is factored in. I hope that other readers of this sight do not get the wrong impression about the Buick because it has this possible 30 year old Audi buyer leaning towards an American CUV…and a Buick to boot!

  • avatar
    delmartian

    If acceleration were the weighted criteria this review may have helped … to me it was roominess, comfort, hangling and quietness … this car kicks butt over the competition in the above criteria … competition is really the suburban or yukon xl in roominess and lexus 350 in ride and quietness … this writer doesn’t understand the market as well as GM this car and its sisters hit the mark … CX-9 too cramped, noisier, rough ride and not as roomy … same goes for MDX and its thousands more … someone needs to help these reviewers understand were not all looking for a sports car some of us want an alternative for a minivan and the enclave wins.


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