USA Today: Buick Blows

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Obviously, we're translating fairly loosely here. But it's clear that USA Today car reviewer James R. Healey is no fan of Buick's new luxury CUV. Although Healey's article pronounces the badge-engineered Enclave "a truly different vehicle" than the near-identical GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook, he concurs with this writer's opinion that it's one ugly ass vehicle. "The styling is overdone and the details undercut what appeal it has. Enclave tortures the slim, straight elegance of Outlook and Acadia. Enclave's detailing — the faux portholes, the overlarge grille (so thin and flexible on the test vehicle that it twisted in your hands when the hood was raised), the sloping side windows and inexplicably ovaled rear window — harass the eye and reduce what already was limited rear visibility." And THEN the Enclave's power seat moved in fits and starts, the autobox hunted for gears like a truffle-crazed pig with a cold (as reported on TTAC) and the fuel economy sank to 14mpg. (All the The General horses and all the General's men couldn't raise the Enclave's fuel economy again.) Despite his obvious distaste for the model, Healey couldn't quite bring himself to deliver the coupe de grace: "Overall: Poor rear visibility and overwrought styling make the mechanically identical Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia seem like better machines." And in comparison to its REAL competition? Or is that it?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Davey49 Davey49 on Sep 17, 2007

    Remember these are new large 7-8 passenger vehicles being sold against long standing competition. Don't expect sales to go through the roof.

  • Jimmy2x Jimmy2x on Sep 17, 2007
    hitguy Please do not misunderstand me. I hold no particular brief for the Buick Enclave, but it should be noted that GM delivered 10,400 of the Lambda platform vehicles in the month of August, which I suspect would at least give them the label of a qualfied success. So far as the price goes, they fall in the same bracket as Highlander, and I suspect what the new Pilot will cost. Obviously, they are all expensive, especially the "loaded" models. Mileage on any of these (except hybrid versions) is not very good, but better than the the Trailblazer/Explorer type SUV's that they will replace for many people. Personally, I am looking for a retirement vehicle that will be able to take the wife and I across country in reasonable comfort with plenty of room for traveling gear and that will do well in a variety of weather and terrain conditions. Likely will be a 4Runner - and it is not cheap either.
  • Raast Raast on Sep 17, 2007

    Reality check for GM Canda: Model:2008 Buick Enclave AWD Engine:3.6l Dohc V6 Vvt Engine Transmission:6-speed Automatic Transmission $55,655.00 This is straight off GM Canada's site for my local dealer. Do they honestly think I'm taking 55 grand into the Buick dealer when there's real competiton out there? I can drive away in a competitor's (read far better import) vehicle with money left over? Good grief.

  • 213Cobra 213Cobra on Sep 18, 2007

    Not my kind of vehicle, but the USA Today review doesn't make sense. With the singular exception of the 1963 Riviera, every Buick in my lifetime has been stylistically overwrought. That's a Buick! So why make it an issue, especially in the context of knowing that GM has other, more visually restrained versions for other tastes. Similarly lame is making an issue of the Enclave's more isolating ride relative to the Acadia and Outlook. No kidding: it's a Buick! Quiet and cushy is the brand imperative. If you want incisive, get one of the others. Isn't this exactly the kind of brand specialization people here have been clamoring for? Oval rear window. My Dad's first car of my remembrance was a '49 Buick. It had an oval window and it had overwrought sheet metal too. Guess they reached back for inspiration. Also, while GM wants to pull down the median age of its Buick customers, no one is targeting the brand to youth. Younger people looking for a big CUV are going to gravitate to the Acadia or Outlook, or to the bigger of the two Mazdas, and for good reason. Yep, the transverse 5.3L would be imperative if Buick were targeting the TTAC demo. But they're not. The modern femme focus of Buick argues against that, at least in the launch year. If the transmission behaves anything like the 6L80 in my Cadillac when it was new, it is quite smart and settles in to its groove after some time learning the driver. The software update appears to have addressed the problem, but I'd expect review vehicles that are shunted around between radically different drivers to improve shifting behavior on the second or third day. I'd also expect to see mileage improve. I've found GM EPA ratings to be quite achievable. Sustained 80mph freeway mileage in my Cadillac improved from 20 to 24.5 in the first four months I owned the car. But something the mass of this Enclave motivated by its 3.6L six is going to have to be soft-shoed a bit if driven for maximum mileage. Keep your foot out of it if 14 mpg offends you. I think you can expect to see many more lightweight, flexy grills that can be twisted or deformed in your hands. This is part of the higher sensitivity to reducing pedestrian injuries in vehicle/person accidents. This CUV thing is still an evolving segment... Phil