By on October 23, 2015

2013 Buick Enclave. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

During the summer of 2007, I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and it was my job to drive the cars between locations. This was an excellent job when I was approximately 17, because a) I got to drive all these cool cars, and b) what the hell else was I going to do? Read?

Back then, I remember that the very coolest car we had in our fleet was the Buick Enclave. This may seem odd to those of you out there reading this, but it was true: the Enclave was very cool. Not only had it just come out, but it was a luxury car, and by God it wasn’t some stupid General Motors fake attempt at a luxury car. It was an actual, decent, legitimately good luxury car. It was among the first signs of a “new” General Motors.

We didn’t have many luxury cars in our fleet. We had one or two Infiniti G37s, we had a couple of Maximas, and that was about it. Basically every other car we had was a Chevy Aveo or some sort of Chrysler product with barcodes placed so conspicuously in the windows that we may as well have stuck a sign on the roof that said “LOST TOURIST!!! EXPENSIVE CAMERA EQUIPMENT IN TRUNK!!!”

So anyway, I always jumped at the chance to drive an Enclave, and I remember coming away from that experience with a very high opinion of them.

And now, here I am, eight years later. I no longer work at Enterprise, having instead moved dramatically backwards to the world of freelance writing, which is where people who get in fights with their co-workers at Enterprise go after they’ve been fired. The world has changed a lot: President Bush is gone, Jeremy Clarkson hosts a TV show on a website, and Blockbuster Video has disappeared from our hearts and minds.

2009-chevrolet-traverse-photo-216447-s-1280x782

So where am I going with this? Well, despite all the changes, Buick is still peddling the Enclave as a brand new car, largely unchanged from that original model we drove way back in 2007. And the same is true of its twins, the GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse. Only the Saturn Outlook is gone, removed from the market when General Motors killed off Saturn after someone reminded Rick Wagoner that it still existed.

This is surprising. But do you know what’s even more surprising? The Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse, and GMC Acadia are all still pretty damn good cars.

Saturn Outlook

I think I’m especially surprised by this because I know GM’s history. For those of you who don’t quite know it, allow me to explain: throughout the 1980s and 1990s, GM’s product strategy involved creating a vehicle, developing it, and then releasing it to major fanfare, only to let it languish on the market for about seven years after it needed a redesign. This is how the 1995 Blazer somehow carried on, mostly unchanged, until the 2005 model year.

But the Traverse, Enclave, and Acadia don’t have that problem. Yes, they’re still here, which would normally signify crappy, old-school GM — a company so resistant to change they can’t figure out that they need to redesign one of their core products. But, damn it, somehow these things have stayed both good and popular for the last decade.

2013 GMC Acadia

A lot of it has to do with the fact that General Motors is constantly updating them. Years ago, these vehicles had a backup camera mounted in the rearview mirror that was about the same size as an iPhone app icon. Now, they have a huge central infotainment system with that wonderful Chevy MyLink/Buick IntelliLink thing that responds to your touch approximately four business days after you press it.

They’re also leaders in safety. While other 2008-era vehicles are still touting “dual airbags” as a major breakthrough, the Traverse and friends have it all: a backup camera, OnStar, blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, lane departure alert, rear cross-traffic alert, incoming missile alert, toxic atmosphere alert, etc., etc. They also still offer more power than their rivals, a roomy interior with surprisingly nice materials, and excellent ride quality.

This wasn’t intended to be a General Motors advertisement. In fact, it’s really the exact opposite: I am truly and honestly stunned beyond belief that General Motors has managed to pull this off. Since 2007, the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot have all seen three fully redesigned variants, while the Acadia, Traverse, and Enclave are still trucking along with the very same overall design they had way back then.

And do you know what? Last year, General Motors sold 240,000 of these damn things. By comparison, Honda only sold 108,000 Pilots, and they didn’t top 180,000 even if you toss in the Acura MDX to make things fair. Even Ford only managed to eek out 210,000 Explorers.

In other words, I salute General Motors for dragging these vehicles on for so long – and more importantly, I salute General Motors for keeping them good.

Now, if they could only figure out the Chevy Malibu.

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128 Comments on “Doug Drives: I Can’t Believe the Chevy Traverse and Its Twins Are Still Popular...”


  • avatar
    MBella

    The Enclave is decent. I can’t speak for the Acadia or Outlook because I have never driven or even been in one. The Traverse is a piece of garbage though. They started with the Buick, and went through and made what they could deliberately worse so that they could sell it as a Chevy. It’s such a tinny rattle bucket. It sells because it’s a minivan without the sliding doors and therefore ok by today’s society.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Completely disagree. Have you even driven any of these yourself?

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        As I said, the Enclave and Traverse. I have no first hand experience with the Acadia and Outlook, which is why I didn’t comment on those. It was an older Traverse, so I have no idea if they have made any improvements since then. The one In the one I drove, you could tell they made it intentionally bad, so that it would slot in below the Buick. They should have made the Chevy first, and improved it into the Buick. The other way just makes for a miserable vehicle. Soccer moms that are too cool for a minivan are buying them in droves, so what do I know.

        • 0 avatar
          bts

          It’s great you have an opinion, but unless you back it up with facts your comments are worthless.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            What a rude and adolescent comment. This is a web site for adults.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            I don’t know what facts you would like about the difference between the two. Obviously even GM thinks the Traverse is crappy if they are leasing one to vvk for $145/month, zero down. Which even I would consider at that price, and I have zero interest in this class of vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I’ve only driven the Traverse and it was not good. Poor visibility, noisy, peculiar throttle response, vague steering, mediocre seats and not particularly attractive. Much more “truck-like” than “car-like.”

      If they can take that same vehicle and tart it up into an Enclave that fixes those problems to the point where I would want to drive it, I’d be surprised.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Way back in Sept/Oct 2011, we test drove a 2011 Buick Enclave AWD and it was very good — quiet, smooth, responsive, and pretty well done in leather on the inside.

        We ended up buying a 2012 Grand Cherokee because of styling and color, and it turned out to be an excellent, trouble-free choice (for us).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “This may seem odd to those of you out there reading this, but it was true: the Enclave was very cool.”

    Minivans, sliding doors or not, were never cool. Your G37 blew it away in terms of “coolness”.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      If I could magically have the Verano transported into the sun this very morning, I would go out this afternoon and try and find a 2010+ G37x non sport package sedan. I think it a hell of a looker, with a great engine, and 17″ base rims! Hurray for sidewall!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Maybe MY10, but I think I determined the MY15 Q50 (which appears to be a G37 done over) was only trading for 5K more than an MY13 G37. In other words, G37s were trading much more than they should have been when I checked two or three months back. If you can swing it, I’d say Q50 AWD as a CPO. Can you buy cars in the US and transfer them to Canada in order to avoid the lashing you folks get on USDM cars?

        • 0 avatar
          Delta9A1

          Yes, you can bring cars to Canada from the US fairly easily. There is a 5% duty if the car is not made in North America. However, with the C$ hitting 10 year lows recently, the price spread needs to be pretty big to make it worthwhile. There are lots of small dealers who will access the US auctions and bring the car up for $1000 or so.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          I’d rather a G37 than a Q50 though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You and a lot of people hence the premium on them at the time. I think Q50 is the same thing warmed over, maybe in time the G37 will finally drop as it should.

  • avatar
    NN

    you can thank Maximum Bob for pushing GM to make vehicles that are thoroughly competent & look good, like the Enclave, the 2007 Tahoe/Suburban and the 2008-2012 Malibu. Just think of what GM was producing before that age. A lot of people hated on Bob for various reasons but he knew what a timeless, good looking, competitive car was. I am not confident that GM has similar tastes today

  • avatar
    slance66

    I have long liked the overall look of the Acadia (though I’d prefer it six inches shorter with less rear overhang). When I test drove a lightly used one however I wasn’t impressed. It was certainly a major step down from the Explorer I also tested in almost all respects. The word that springs to mind is “ponderous”. It is a huge car and drives like a huge car. You feel every inch of it.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      On the contrary, having test driven a 2015 Explorer, I came away pretty disgusted. It feels HUGE, soft and ponderous, while the Traverse feels small and athletic. Also, the steering wheel on the Explorer is weird, with no good spot to hold it. The spokes are way too wide at 3 and 9.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I would never use “small and athletic” to describe the Traverse. The Explorer is what it is. I like it enough in Sport and Platinum trim, but I find the Flex and MkFlex to be much better driving cars.

        I considered a Enclave and Acadia before buying a used MkFlex. Being in Lambdas on a regular basis has never made me regret my decision.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Don’t they just sell because they are incentivized to death?

  • avatar
    Scottie

    I can’t believe you still have a writing career.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      This. Do we really need periodic proof that privileged backgrounds can produce some pretty vapid weenies?

      I think we get it.

    • 0 avatar
      Sloomis

      Curious, what’s your problem with this guy? His articles are moderately entertaining and completely inoffensive, from what I remember. There’s certainly much more worthy targets of derision that write for this site.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      Kind of harsh, don’t you think?

      I have some disagreements with the author views in this article, but there’s nothing insulting or unprofessional about it. The article presents evidence, draws on personal experience, and infers conclusions. This is pretty textbook journalistic commentary.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        The article title is needlessy long and drawn out for no apparent reason because it needs to be to fill up dead space.

        He takes 4 sentences to actually get to the subject

        He beats around the bush for the rest of the article, spewing random things that we all know.

        And Doug never, ever talks with his audience.

        My only surprise is that this wasnt labled as another dreadful QOTD click bait piece.

        • 0 avatar
          VCplayer

          I don’t know how TTAC divides responsibilities for articles, but you’re really criticizing the editor more than the author. Editors nearly always write article titles and are responsible for cleaning up articles and making them snappy.

          As someone who is currently doing a whole bunch of writing, I would be lost without my editor telling me every now and then I’m blabbing too much.

          For the record though, I enjoy Doug’s style. He could cut some details and anecdotes, but I actually enjoy reading those. To each their own though.

  • avatar
    make_light

    I’ve always felt that the Enclave wasn’t given enough cred as a luxury SUV contender. It’s super plush and feels expensive. I’ve actually felt that way about most new Buicks in the past few years. They’re better than they ever got credit for.
    I think the Traverse is rather bloated and awkward looking, but the Acadia is quite handsome, so much better looking than the current Pilot or Highlander.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    I know multiple families in the Detroit area that keep leasing Lambdas over and over again. My wife’s friend has had a Outlook, Acadia, and Traverse on 36 month leases that she always gets out of early. They don’t even test drive anything else and have no problem throwing out $400+ a month to lease these ugly beasts.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    All mentioned in the article is true but there’s one other HUGE reason these are still hot sellers and it’s simple.

    They’re the only crossover you can get with a usable 3 person 3rd row. Nobody else has that. In addition to that theres still decent cargo room behind the 3rd row. So for people who want the 3 person 3rd row but not a minivan or full-size suv it’s really the only choice. I know because I was heavily considering an Acadia but ended up with an Odyssey.

    The real thing I can’t believe is that no other automaker has realized this yet.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think if you asked the average Lambda owner how many seats are in the third row, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Most of the third rows stay down.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        My Traverse third row is ALWAYS up. And I completely agree with 3800FAN about the third row being very roomy and comfortable.

        There is a large amount of cargo space behind the third row. Plenty for everyday shopping, etc. I only lower the third row when I have to carry something BIG.

    • 0 avatar
      cirats

      Agree with this. As per my post further down, we are currently in the market for a 3-row CUV and the Acadia is very much in the mix, largely because of the usable 3rd row and cargo room (plus good outward visibility). The Highlander is a great value proposition in terms of features but just seems a bit small for our needs.

    • 0 avatar
      ccc555

      I agree with 3800FAN 100% and will add one more thing – second row captains seats that allow our young kids to easily get to the third row.

      We lease a 2014 Enclave and it replaced a 2010 Toyota Sienna AWD. We have 3 kids and a dog so we need the space and the third row is needed when we have an extra person. It’s also easier to have AWD my hilly area of the northeast for my wife so the criteria was 7 passengers with AWD. The minivan stunk – it rattled and the trunk behind the 3rd row wasn’t great even though it was a well. Unfortunately Toyota was the only AWD minivan option. I have had 2 Toyotas (1999 RAV4 and the Sienna) and was underwhelmed with both of them. The Enclave has given us no problems in 25k miles and has a good size trunk/cargo area even with the 3rd row down. The captains seats in the second row also eliminate the need for them to operate the seat levers which would become us having to do it. It’s also pretty luxurious and seats are comfortable.

      My only complaints about the car are the chunky A pillars and side view mirrors bother my wife, storage (especially in front) is lacking and (I think this is only a problem on mine) the sunroof is kind of noisy when closed. Otherwise GM does a good job with this model and my brother has an Acadia which he is very happy with as well. The gas mileage isn’t great but it runs on regular and nothing in this class does all that much better. Though we will likely look to replace with the Volvo XC90 (kids are now old enough to deal with the seats to get to the 3rd row) when our lease is up, I would recommend the Enclave to someone shopping for a 7 passenger SUV/CUV. It’s a good blueprint and GM isn’t screwing it up.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Having owned a succession of rear wheel drive BMWs and Mercedes, currently driving 325i M-sport, 550i M Sport and SLK350 Sport, all with manual transmission, I must say that I greatly enjoy driving my leased 2015 Chevy Traverse. It has that balanced European feel to it, the suspension is flat through corners while being very comfortable for the 6 passengers I typically carry in it. It is a very, very good road trip vehicle, far better that I expected when I test drove it, among the 10 or so other 3-row vehicles I tried during the buying process. I feel very good driving it, even after driving one of my other high-dollar German machinery. The best part and likely the reason why it sells exceedingly well — I got an $11k discount off MSRP. My 24 months, 12k mile lease payment is under $145/month before sales tax, with nothing paid at signing, not even first month payment or registration fees. And mine is pretty loaded, too.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I can’t argue with $145/month.

    • 0 avatar

      THIS is why they sell so well. Compared to what you can get from other companies with incentives added in nothing can touch them for size at the price. Judging by Explorer prices I’m betting Ford is making a big premium on each explorer while GM’s margin on these is much smaller. Overall they aren’t bad cars. I’ve rented plenty and they ride nice and aren’t terrible. I don’t know that I would praise them as GREAT but they are solid.

      But hey, Record profits from NEW GM! (since technically it’s a new company and in no way tied to the old one) Hopefully they don’t keep up the same mistakes and mismanagement that killed them in the first place. Oh, wait, they haven’t revised this vehicle in nearly 9 years. Oh well, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

      • 0 avatar
        tsoden

        We don’t get those kind of deals up here in CanadaLand:

        2015 CHEVROLET TRAVERSE LT 1LT
        Front-wheel Drive
        1LT Package
        MSRP* $37,110
        Total Credits^^ – $664
        Freight & A/C Tax + $1,750
        Down Payment1 – $0
        Trade-in Value – $0
        Other Credits2 – $0
        BALANCE $38,196
        Lease♦
        36 Months Term | 7.99% (13.85% APR) | $16,321 Guaranteed Option to Purchase Price
        Estimated Monthly Payment
        (Based on 20,000 KM per year) $789

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I took this as satire/joking.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Wow…$145/month? What were/are the terms? Heck, I’d lease one for that, and I’m not even a fan of leasing vehicles!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      $3,480 in payments over two years doesn’t sound like a business model to me. My opinion on the Traverse is pretty irrelevant, but that’s a give away. I was just thinking it was interesting that GM is chopping Sonic production instead of stacking them high and selling them cheap, as they used to do with unsalable product. I guess they don’t quite have the supply and demand thing figured out yet after all. Ironically, one might think that giving away Sonics would do more for their CAFE goals, but maybe not so with the perverse new scheme. Besides, how can you give away Sonics when you’re giving away full sized CUVs?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I tend to think that GM doesn’t sell a down market version of the Tahoe and Suburban because they’d sell too many.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          If you’re right, it means that CAFE has GM giving away CUVs instead of selling SUVs. Bad stuff happens when people believe in politicians instead of markets.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Silverado starts at $26K and GM probably makes money on that version. Not as much as the top trim Sierra, but money none the less. The base Tahoe, which starts at $50K!, cannot cost GM double to make. They could sell a WT or LS version for similar prices as the Traverse, which starts at $31K.

        • 0 avatar

          I miss the days when you could buy a fleet-spec Tahoe/Suburban with the plastic work truck grill and vinyl seats.

          I mean, I guess there’s the police edition, but I would need to wait until they start showing up on govdeals.com with vomit stains on the back seat.

    • 0 avatar

      All manual? You’re speaking dollars so I assume you live in the US, and to the best of my knowledge, Mercedes doesn’t offer a manual here in the US…

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    We have 60,000 miles on our 2008 Buick Enclave CXL with front wheel drive. We have been very happy with it. Great combination of luxury, comfort and utility. Until someone makes a minivan that is rated to tow more than 3000 lbs I wont consider anything else for the role our lambda plays. I still find it to be one of the most attractive SUV’s on the road. No mechanical problems thus far. Cruising on the interstate at 70 we average 21 MPG with four adults, a 70 lb dog and luggage for a weeks vacation. It tows our 23′ boat and trailer on short trips reasonable well. I’m happy they have not redesigned it much since it makes ours look newer.

  • avatar

    I have 221,000 miles on my Enclave, having bought one of the first ones produced. had multiple steering problems (engineers from Milford and Tech Center couldn’t fix so replaced entire system) and needed a new trans…all under warranty. I love the car, other than leaving the liftgate open twice and crunching it backing out of my garage after leaving it up like an idiot. I’ll buy 2 new ones (kids driving now), and would have already, when they change the body style.

    btw, it rides a whole lot better after I paid it off.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      So yours has the SMPFI LY7 version of the 3.6, yes? I’m curious if anyone has put that kind of mileage on the DI LLT version of the 3.6.

      I know two families with Enclaves, and both like them a lot. It’s a vehicle that’s underappreciated on enthusiast sites.

      • 0 avatar
        Delta9A1

        I have 104,000 km/60,000 mi on an AWD 2010 CXL, and it has the DI V6. No major issues yet, just off extended warranty. It’s been a great car. 3800FAN is 100% correct – the comfortable third row and storage behind sold the car. We use the third row for friends of our teenage kids, etc. It gets used enough that the third row of the 2003 Montero we had was no longer enough.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        We have a number of Traverses with the DI 3.6 where I work. They seem to get rid of them when they approach 200,000 km (120,000 miles). I haven’t heard of any engine problems so far.

        I personally drive these things on long trips semi regularly, and the only problem I’ve personally encountered was a noisy / slow HVAC blend door on a unit with about 170,000 km.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    The original Acadia design was handsome as hell. The quad exhausts, the small grill and curved headlight shape. The current styling, facelifted in 2013, strongly resembles an amorphous blob with absolutely no character. I hate when a good looking car gets facelifted into crap.

    The facelifted Enclave on the other hand is an upgrade over the original IMO. They left more of the basic shape intact, but added some nice flair, with the reshaped and LED bedazzled headlamps, stronger looking grill, etc.

    The Traverse is a thing that exists on the roads. Thats as much thought as I have ever given it.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Design being so subjective, I hate Acadia look. Buick is OK but a bit overstyled. Traverse — really like it. Sleek, flowing, looks like a 5-door hatch (kinda like my SAAB 900 on stilts) — perfect. I like 5-door hatchbacks the best, like SAAB 900/9000, Mazda6, Tesla Model S, etc. The Traverse is just a really big 5-door hatchback.

  • avatar
    cirats

    I am very glad this came up today, as we are currently in the market for a 3-row CUV and these (the Acadia in particular) are very much in the mix, largely because of the usable 3rd row and cargo room (plus good outward visibility).

    I’d love to hear if anyone has particular reasons we ought to stay away from these or particular recommendations for other 3-row vehicles we ought to be looking at. The Highlander seems a bit small. Pilot is somewhat in the mix.

    Before anyone says “minivan”, we are getting this vehicle to replace an Odyssey we bought new back in 2004. It’s been a great car, I know it’s the best and most useful packaging for people and cargo, and I’d get another minivan in a heartbeat, but after driving the consummate mommy-mobile for nearly 11 years, my wife is feeling like something else and I can’t fault her for that.

    And, yes, we do need and will use a 3-row vehicle with our family size, the amount of carpooling we do, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      I am eyeing the Mercedes Metris and Ford Transit Connect LWB for the next lease. Older people in my family have trouble climbing up into the back seats of the Traverse. It is a really big step up.

      The RWD Mercedes is especially interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        mu_redskin

        I don’t know why Mercedes is just selling the metris as a commercial vehicle. The metris in European v-class form is very nice. I could easily see it taking the place of those who buy loaded odyssey’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      If it fits into your budget consider a Suburban or Yukon XL. They will offer more total legroom (add all three rows together) and far more cargo room than any of the CUVs. They’re trucks you get all the durability and longevity benefits of that. If your wife is looking for something different, its also a completely different driving feel and offers a far more plush highway ride than the CUVs or minivans. Big CUVs feel like minivans (ie a Pilot will feel just like your Odyssey). I’m going to be in the 3-row market in the next few years and a Suburban is at the top of the list.

      Of the GM three I believe Buick has a longer b2b warranty if that factors into your decision.

    • 0 avatar

      you should shop around, then check with your friendly Buickman and see why I’ve retailed more new cars than anyone in history. 596-914-BUICK (2842).

      • 0 avatar
        cirats

        Consider me intrigued, as we are serious about buying. Do you sell only Buick, or GMC/Chevy as well? And only new? And does it matter if we are not located in the same area? I am in North Carolina, FWIW.

        • 0 avatar
          jefmad

          Not a real number

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            How, exactly, does one get 4 digits out of 5 letters?

          • 0 avatar
            Lack Thereof

            The same way one dials an 8-digit phone number.

            The last digit/letter is ignored by the phone system. Watch a lot of late-night local TV ads and you will see advertizers doing the same trick, adding an extra letter or two on to the end of the “real” phone number to make a recognizable and rememberable word, knowing that the phone system will simply ignore it.

            At least, back in the landline days it worked. I bet a cell phone would refuse to dial a number with extra digits hanging off the end.

    • 0 avatar

      We’ve owned our Traverse for nearly four years. We needed a third row and AWD for a number of reasons and looked at the Pilot, Highlander, Mazda CX9 and Volvo XC90. We bought the Traverse because it was the only vehicle with a usable 3rd row and the middle row captains chairs make getting in and out easy. We also liked the Acadia and Enclave, but they were easily $5-10k more expensive for the same level of options.

      The Traverse makes a 1200 mile trip to Florida from Kansas at least twice a year. It gets about 20 MPG on the highway and easily hauls two kids, two dogs and all the crap we take. It’s been dead reliable–the only problem it’s had was with the motors that control the airflow on the HVAC system, which were covered under warranty.

      We are planning to replace it in the next couple of years and will probably look at the Explorer and the new Pilot, but will probably buy another Lambda because of the price, all the things Doug mentioned, and our own experience.

    • 0 avatar

      We did this a few months ago. Ended up with a 2014 Pilot Touring but a 2013 Acadia STL-II was second place. Highlander was third, but it really didn’t have a very usable third row. The Acadia we looked at was basically the Denali without the bling and all of the Denali branding. I thought it was really nice. Loved the access to the third row. It also has a ton of room behind the third row when it was up. Loved the seats and it drove well, but really liked the dash layout of the Honda more and the Acadia infotainment looked dated. Plus the acadia is about 18 inches longer than the pilot, and would have made parking it in our driveway without butting out into the sidewalk a bit difficult and wouldn’t have fit into our garage. Even then, I think we would have purchased the Acadia if we didn’t get such a good deal on the pilot.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    I completely get why these are popular; they’re the only large CUV that offers decent space behind the third row and offers three roomy rows of seating. When it comes to hauling people AND things its the only game in town (unless you want to pay up for a Suburban). The Highlander and Pilot aren’t even close. The Flex/MKT and Pathfinder offer slightly more total legroom, but virtually no storage behind the third row.

  • avatar
    pbr

    >> … moved dramatically backwards to the world of freelance writing, which is where people who get in fights with their co-workers at Enterprise go after they’ve been fired.

    THIS would be an intersting post. Do tell.

  • avatar
    RS

    Why buy a Tahoe over one of these?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Because in black, with privacy glass, and the 20″ rims, the Tahoe is way better looking.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Because you need to tow or go places Lambdas can’t. Plus, as APaGttH, the Tahoe looks way better.

      Also. You buy a Tahoe because you have money and you can. It’s a Chevy, but you are a step above the mommy mobile, minivan want to be, CUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I feel the Lambda platform DOES do a lot right. As commented above, they try and provide a useful third row, that also has storage in the back. They aren’t terrible to drive, and look ok. And of course, GM is offering incentives.

        I personally don’t care for the running gear of the Lambda, which is I think the main thing the BOF boys have going for them. GM’s modern truck platform and small block V8 is what I would rather have underpinning such massy conveyances. I think the 3.6 is out of its element, and the token AWD system is absolutely pathetic. It can only put a max of 35% to the rear wheels, all the diffs are open, it depends a lot on the brakes to apportion torque. Lambda rear tires could seem to do little more than twitch like a bug hit with RAID, in my first hand experience watching an Acadia on all seasons trying to traverse an icy incline. I feel buying an AWD lambda is basically being sold a bill of goods in anything other than a few inches of powder, which is exagerated by the front bumper that is closer to the ground than that on my Verano.

        I think the 4.3 Ecotec 3 would be a much better engine for the Lambda, given that it actually makes its torque closer to idle. The new truck V6 is actually quite a decent engine in my opinion, and I think its better suited to heavy vehicles. Finally, add in a 50/50 center diff lock setting, so you actually get the benefit of the AWD hardware, like the first gen Pilot and Ridgeline.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          If you don’t need a third row, a Tahoe is a better choice. 99% of Tahoe third rows sit in their owners garages, I can attest to this having owned one for 11 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            True. We bought our ‘Hoe just before our second chid was born. So the 3rd row sat in the garage for 2 years until our 3rd was born. Now 1/2 of the 3rd row sits in the garage.

            Having ridden in my sisters Lambda Saturn, and yes it sat three kids in booster seats very nicely in the 3rd row, I’d say the only reason to buy a ‘Hoe over what she got’s is for towing. Even then they use theirs to tow an older ski boat on a single axle trailer short distances.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            GM saw that and responded by making the third row non removable. 99% of Tahoe third rows now sit permanently folded down in the back of the the truck making the cargo floor higher.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “Why buy a Tahoe over one of these?”

      Towing! I wasn’t expecting much out of our ’07 Hoe with that little 5.3, but it is absolutely the best truck I’ve owned(out of 4) for towing. Honestly if you aren’t hooking something up to the back of one of these things on a regular basis you really have no need/business owning one. Complete waste of great SUV.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …Now, if they could only figure out the Chevy Malibu…

    This.

    The ’08 ‘bu was widely praised, then it languished and then they went off the rails insisting buyers wouldn’t care about the cramped back seats and would want stop/start systems so bad that just switching the ignition manually would give you a better experience.

    The Lambda triplets are still solid (the Traverse is darn meh in my book). I had an Acadia SLE a few years back and I was very surprised. Quality of what I read is solid through year 3 and 4, and then it becomes very, errr, “European” where you should dump it, or if you’re buying used, you want CPO with a fat extended warranty.

    I passed up a Traverse last week in Boston (no thanks) and instead went with a GLK350 4MATIC. The Traverse had no “cred” to me, so GM still has branding issues. In my mind, even though infinitely nicer than an Uplander, handing the keys to a Traverse in my mind was giving me a horrid U-Body.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Quite a range to have a choice of Traverse or a GLK.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Traverse was considered a fullsize premium SUV (aren’t rental agencies funny).

        Our choices were the fullsize premium SUV that I rented (Traverse ain’t premium) or a premium car or a premium standard SUV.

        They were out of premium cars, so the guy pointed us to three luxury standard SUVs.

        Two Mercedes GLK350s, one in black with Tennessee plates, one in white with New York plates, and a silver Cadillac SRX.

        Despite the continued insistence by a couple of folks here of my blind unyielding devotion to GM, the Cadillac wasn’t even considered given the two Mercedes sitting next to it.

        Driving in Massachusetts with New York plates was very unappealing, kind of like driving in Maine with Massachusetts plates – just might as well write on the back window…

        “Please harass me if you’re a civilian, or just write me a random ticket if you’re a cop. Thank you”

        So the black GLK350 with Tennessee plates it was. The SRX wasn’t even considered – it look outright cheap parked next to two GLK-350s (albeit larger).

        The story then gets totally weird. The guy at the booth won’t let us take the Benz as he looks over my contract. In a bizarre combination of Boston and Russian accent, “this is very expensive car, you cannot drive this,” and my insistence that the lot agent told us to take this vehicle and they had no vehicles in my reserved class. (expensive, the only apparent option was a sunroof, heck it didn’t even have heated seats, a backup camera, or even backup assist – a search of internet pointed to this being around $45K new)

        He then declared he would get me a premium car and started walking me over to a row of Camrys, which I declared before we even got there was utterly NOT premium, and explained to him you don’t downgrade a customer if you don’t have a car in their respective class. Funny thing is, he didn’t even try to push the lone 7-passenger Traverse as premium on me. For the record, if they had an Acadia I would have taken it, likely begrudgingly, if it was an Enclave I would have taken it without question.

        He then flagged a driver down, said to get a premium car, and it turned out the agency manager was riding shot gun. She told him there were no premium cars left (as I tried to tell him in the first place) and asked what I had. He whined in his weird Boston/Russian accent, “a Mercedes,” and she said it was fine. He then turned and said, “OK, you take Mercedes, boss says it is OK.”

        /facepalm

        If you’re going to be driving to your high school reunion after flying across the country to attend, being married to the love of your life and rocking a Mercedes is a good way to show up. Paying $45 a day for same Mercedes at Logan Airport – also a plus.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Great story.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          A friend of mine got pulled over in Brookline many years back, with NY plates on his car. Cop started chewing him out about damn NYC drivers coming to Boston and thinking they could get away with anything. He ended up feeling pretty bad when he realized the friend in question was from Buffalo…

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Former CT State Trooper here….NY plates FTW always. Something about how the rules of the road don’t apply to them.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    The middle row is too low and too uncomfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Exactly what I felt test driving the Pilot. Second row seat cushions too low to the floor, you end up sitting with your knees up to your ears. The Traverse is nowhere near as low. It is actually very comfortable in both second and third rows.

  • avatar
    Grenade

    The first 4-5 MY of these had a clutch pack installed incorrectly (reversed) and the transmissions would grenade after about 25k miles. GM never fussed up.

    It’s kinda sad because GM and Ford co-developed the transmission in a partnership. Ford put the trans in pretty much every FWD vehicle they make and its been fine from a reliability standpoint.

    I did some research on these after my wife fell in love with an Acadia Denali. I said no due to the transmission issue.

    Also these vehicles (Chevy version especially) were dumped into the rental fleets so they are quite inexpensive on the used market now.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    They seem to be the spiritual successors to the Family Truckster, simply taller versions of the long station wagons of yore I grew up with. As I recall, the Caprice/Electra/Parisienne/Safari/Custom Cruiser et al (and their Ford-Merc counterparts) weren’t updated all that often, either.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Pretty much. And come to think of it, neither were pickup trucks nor any SUVs based off those trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      I hear ya phila, I think it’s hilarious that for 20-30 years station wagons and vans were the cars to hate by everyone who was cool…….now all the cool S/W haters are driving them albeit with big tires and wheels.

      BTW. in days of yore(mid 70’s) we had a Country Squire S/W with the dual facing rear seats. The kids loved it back there on road trips.

  • avatar

    I remember driving one of these in 2008, a GMC, and thinking it was really good. I drove it and a Tahoe back to back and the Arcadia was way better. Handled much better, better gas mileage, way better packaging. It doesn’t matter how often a car gets completely refreshed. It simply matters how good it is. If upgrading the Arcadia in place has helped it stay good and cheaper than the Pilot, well,go GM!

  • avatar
    lot9

    All the above are long in the tooth and need a new model, last few years ago. GM has dropped the ball on hanging onto the same old models too long.
    Thinking about buying a SUV or CUV next year. Not sure when GM is going to redo these CUVs.
    Don’t like the new Pilots or Highlanders. Forget the Nissan’s and it sister upgraded models.
    Got a ’15 GMC Sierra crew cab and had good luck with it. GM has made improvements in their autos

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I nearly bought an Acadia back in 2008, but decided on a Charger instead. I like it a lot, but the restyle is pretty bad. A friend bought one of the first in the area and he still has it, and it’s been one of the best vehicles he’s ever had. It’s got well over 100K on it, and the only problems with it have been road crater caused. The horrible potholes broke stuff on it every year he’s had it. Not it’s fault, it’s just the way it is. My car has broken stuff the last three years too, and it gets driven only about half as many miles a year.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “The horrible potholes broke stuff on it every year he’s had it.”

      Holy dung, I thought our frost-heaved roads were bad. But at least they tend to have larger and shallower discontinuities like whole slabs at slightly different heights, not the meteor craters it sounds like you get.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      You must be from Michigan nrd515.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    My cousin’s wife has a newer Traverse. She liked the Explorer better, but the Ford dealer only stocks the loaded out models, which put it out of her price range. She bought a base model with cloth and it was still cheaper than the only used Explorer the dealer had. I asked if she liked the Flex. “The what?” Apperantly they had none in stock and never mentioned it.

    She’s not impressed with the mpg, evidently hers is only averaging 18 mpg with a heavy bias towards highway driving. She was planning to sell her 04 Impala, but has decided to keep it for commuting so the Traverse only gets used for road trips and family outings. I have read (most of) the comments above and see other people’s Lambdas are doing better on gas. I dont know what the deal is with hers.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I’ve never been impressed with the Lambdas with the exception of the hope they would pull folks out of unnecessary Suburbans, etc.

    That said, last month I rented an Enclave for the long weekend (they were out of Explorers) and was pretty impressed. The 5 of us (3 teenagers!!) and our luggage fit comfortably and I got 22-24 mpg @ 80 mph on the highway. If the reported $11-12k off is customary, they are quite a good deal. If I needed something that roomy on a consistent basis, I’d have to seriously consider breaking my GM embargo.

  • avatar

    When we were in the market for a new family vehicle there were a great many things to consider. First and foremost is room for our family. On vacations or family day trips the vehicle had to be capable of hauling two adults, a thirteen year-old boy, and a set of three year-old twins. Add in the bag of supplies needed to support the twins, plus (early on) a stroller, and car seats capable of surviving re-entry from low earth orbit.

    Realizing that the Equinox purchased prior to the twin’s birth was woefully inadequate for the task at hand, we started the search. Being the practical guy that I am, I immediately drifted to a minivan. In my mind, a Sienna or Odyssey would be the perfect family vehicle (especially the Odyssey – it had a built in vacuum). However, this idea was greeted with as much enthusiasm as my plan to quit my job and become a professional kayak fisherman. “If you like the minivan so much, get one for yourself.” I was told. “I will not drive a mom-mobile.”

    So we began the search for the new family truckster. Our first stop was the Toyota dealership.
    “Let’s take a look at the Highlander,” I stated. We took a look, we sat inside, we drove the thing.
    “It’s okay,” was the response. In wife-speak, that is also known as keep looking.

    Next stop was the Nissan dealership, I really liked the new Pathfinder. Even though I had some reservations about the CVT, it seemed to be a pretty well put together vehicle. The boss actually liked the thing as well. I let her ask the questions and to her credit she grilled each salesman we encountered pretty well. Some were actually left speechless by her line of questioning. She had obviously done her homework and years of living with a car-nut had apparently rubbed off. We were oh so close to buying the Pathfinder, then the question popped up: “Does this have captain’s chairs in the second row?”
    “No,” replied the salesman.
    “Oh, well I have to have captain’s chairs in the second row.” What? This was news to me. Where did this even come from? Then she explained. “If we have an adult riding in the back, they can”t go in the third row. So we will have to move the car seat to the third row. If you don’t have captain seats in the second then you are going to have to move the seat to get to the very back. If the kids drop something you will have to climb over the seat and hope you are able to reach it. If Logan (my thirteen year-old) is with us, we will have to move the seat so he can get to the third row. It is just not logistically feasible in our situation with the babies to have to bother with the headache of a second row bench.” I looked at the salesman and saw a single tear roll down his cheek. He was beat and there was nothing to save the sale. “It’s a nice truck,” she told him, “but we need captain chairs.” We left the Nissan dealer in search of another vehicle. On the way, I decided to re-assess our situation.

    “So, the Toyota is out. The Nissan is out. How about the Lexus?”
    “It’s just a gussied up Highlander, you said so yourself,” she responded.
    “Acura,” I asked?
    “Fugly.”
    “Honda Pilot?”
    “It’s a box.”
    “Infiniti?”
    “I like those, but another thing I didn’t like about that Pathfinder was the transmission. I couldn’t feel it move. I kept on thinking I was not moving out of first.”
    “But that is just the nature of a CVT,” I explained. “It is just smooth since there are no gears.”
    “I don’t really trust that. I like the Infiniti, but I don’t trust it. Besides, it probably doesn’t have captain chairs.”
    “Tahoe, Yukon, Escalade, Expedition, any of them appeal to you?”
    “Too big. Maybe when the kids get older, but right now that is just too much.”
    “Durango,” I offered. Not my first choice, but I knew that it had captain’s chairs and enough incentives to make it a contender in my mind.
    “Who makes that?”
    “Dodge,” I replied.
    “Didn’t your dad say that if you bought a Dodge he would disown you?”
    “Yeah but…”
    “Nope. No Dodge. Let’s go look at these.” She pointed her phone screen towards me and I saw the picture of the Enclave. My heart sank.
    “A Buick? Those are old people cars. What about the Explorer?”
    “The Explorer looks like a squished frog, besides it has no room behind the third row seat. It does have captain chairs though. Too bad it looks like a squished frog.”
    So we made our way to the local GM super store. I was hell-bent on not leaving that place with an old folks car. The boss had other ideas.
    “What about the Traverse?”
    “it has an ugly butt and looks cheap.”
    “The Acadia?” I kind of liked it, and in Denali trim it was loaded to the gills, plus it had that cool heads up display like a fighter cockpit.
    “It looks too trucky.”
    So we moved on to the Enclave. Lo and behold it had those much needed captain’s chairs. We took it for a drive. I was impressed. The cabin was coffin quiet. The fit and finish was above par for what I deemed GM capable of producing. The leather was nice. It had the bells and whistles that my wife required:
    Her phone would connect via bluetooth. The seats were heated for the three days per year that would be needed in southeast Texas. Power seats, and a button for the garage door opener. I had one ace left up my sleeve to deter her.
    “You know this is just a minivan without sliding doors, right?” I saw the salesman cringe.
    “No it’s not.” She informed me. “It’s an SUV.”
    “No, this is based on the Lambda platform that started out in service on their minivans. They just removed the sliding doors and raised the suspension a inch or so. Right?” I directed that last part at the salesman.
    “Well, technically you are somewhat correct,” he noted. “However, we modified the platform for this vehicle. This has nothing to do with a minivan in it’s current state. This is what we classify as a CUV.” He smiled at her, and she grinned the grin of a winner. “This,” he triumphantly declared, “is a Crossover Utility Vehicle!” At that point I was sure that doves were released behind the building and champagne bottles started uncorking: ANOTHER SALE OF ONE OF THESE RAISED MINIVANS!
    She sat there for a second contemplating this new tidbit of information. For a brief second I felt as if I may have a chance. Then she spoke.
    “I want a silver one.”

    Two years in, and the thing has been a great vehicle. The only issue has been a front hub bearing that was replaced under warranty. The mechanic noted that this was probably the third he had seen in all the years they were selling the things. It is near perfect on highway trips, and I have gotten over the old folks car syndrome. In fact, I see more of them driven by younger people than old. The thing has enough storage to haul whatever is needed, and the third row is large enough to bring a couple of buddies for the kids on those trips to the zoo.

    We will be upgrading in the next year or so. Her heart is set on a Mercedes GL450, but lately she has been leaning towards a Yukon. The only requirement being that it has captain’s chairs.

    I’m not gonna argue.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    A former co-worker bought an off-lease Acadia…beautiful clay colored leather with gray trim, charcoal gray exterior. Beautiful vehicle but constantly breaking…so he went and bought a new Traverse, because he didn’t want anything to do with another troublesome beast like the Acadia?!?

    At any rate, he still doesn’t know they are corporate cousins, and his Traverse has been solid as a rock for several years.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I had one of these as a free upgrade from Hertz over a full-size car. And, if you rent frequently from Hertz, there’s no reason not to be a Gold Club member. The line at the ATL rental counter was long, but checking my email showed my car was already waiting. Saved at least 45 minutes of keeping 4 year olds entertained.

    Anyway, the Traverse was pretty new, only 2700 miles. “90 Day White” as all rental units must be.

    It was:

    Quiet: The amount of quiet was pretty impressive for the Chevy version. The Buick and GMC must be even better.

    Comfortable: An up-high minivan. Chairs were pretty good, even if the material wasn’t.

    Simple: Being the Chevy, no complicated ICE, normal GM switches. Nothing great, but no more than the usual few minutes to figure things out. Having also worked for Enterprise in my past, I’m used to jumping from one car to the next as well.

    It wasn’t:

    Fun to drive: The extra weight and size these things carry is noticeable. Our 14 Odyssey felt sprightly upon returning home, even with Honda’s dimwitted transmission ( the Chevy changes gears better). It never felt slow and the chassis isn’t too bad, but it just felt every bit as big as it is.

    Easy to see out of: This a problem in any new car, but these things ( and most CUVs) have atrocious rearward visibility. The rear camera is needed, because you have no idea whats behind you. Even if you could swivel your head like an owl, you’d still miss something. Forward sightlines are better, but still not the (relatively) low beltline Honda I’m used to.

    Fun to get kids in and out of: We rented seats from Hertz for our trip (worth it) and they weren’t too bad to get in. For those who’s kiddie days are long gone, the LATCH system makes it much easier to secure the seats,uh,securely.

    But coming from a minivan with power sliding doors, getting the kids in and out sucked. Big vehicle with third row requires large doors for access. These were a pain in the parking lots and the boys were unhappy there was no button to push to close the doors (first world preschool problems). Plus, the egress was too high for little legs and narrow.

    My thought: A better vehicle than I thought, but too large and heavy for me. At no point would I ever give up our Odyssey for one. I’d have nearly any minivan over these Lambda siblings, except the weird and CVT propelled Quest. And even then, as a rental, I’d probably take it over the Traverse, unless I truly needed the added AWD.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    We spent a weekend in a 2014 Acadia last year during the cold Winter months and came away very impressed overall save gas mileage which hovered in the 17.5-18 range the entire trip. In all fairness it was hovering around 10-12 degrees the entire day and we had the vehicle loaded to the brim with 6 of us plus all there things. Interior room and comfort rated highly with all of us. So did ride quality and Winter traction. Literally nothing stopped the Acadia including snow drifts, black ice, icy bridges and even a foot of snow on an un-plowed parking lot! It was also very quiet to ride in, the blue tooth worked much better than the 2014 Camry SE we rented a few weeks prior to this vehicle and the older version of GM’s 3.6 SIDI V6 making 288 HP made for a pleasant companion making enough power for any situation we through at it. That’s not to say a switch to the LFX with over 300 Hp wouldn’t have been welcome or even better still the new LGX motor with 335 horses and better mileage figures. The 2014 update to the exterior brings the look up to today’s standards but a little work needs to be done inside on the infotainment system and a switch to push button start.

    A refresh is supposedly coming for 2017 with a switch to the new engine, with new sheetmetal and interior and all the latest electronic nannies. Stay tuned.

  • avatar
    cretinx

    Incentives.

  • avatar
    ArialATOMV8

    My aunt used to have a Buick Enclave up until the huge GM recall in 2013. She went from a Honda Odyssey to this thing (Hers was a 2010ish?). My Aunt loved this car and, the rest of my family were surprised she bought a “Old Person’s car”! Boy were we wrong. When we were picked up in it after a long flight during our vacation to visit them, My family was shocked on how comfortable the seats were and, best of all, how nicely it handled. We could not believe it was a Buick.

    Later that week, My mother had a opportunity to drive the car. My mother’s DD is a 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser (100 series) with a reliable V8! She is a very hard critic on cars (especially American ones) She reported that it had great pickup (she has a lead foot too!)

    Unfortunately, during the massive GM recall scandal, my aunt received a recall for Airbags or something, was concerned about driving it, and sold it for a 2014 Acura MDX. Surprisingly, now we are told she loves the Acura as much as the Buick!

    Overall, I’m shocked with the quality of this car. But, it’s not smooth sailing yet! We still don’t have a soft-spot for American Cars and,are very skeptical of there reliability (and quality).

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      This reads suspiciously like it was written by a GM marketing intern, then at the end, the intern thought, they’re on to me, better throw in something to throw them off the scent!

      Nice try GM marketing intern. ;)

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