2010 Buick Enclave CSX Road Test Review

Dave Van Sickle - CAP staff
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Many of us thought the SUV craze wouldn't last so long, but it has continued to survive.  Concerns about fuel economy and the impact on the environment, however, have moved buyers out of traditional SUVs and into an alternative that has recently enjoyed increasing popularity-the so-called crossover vehicle.

In the world of autos, crossovers have nothing to do with lifestyle or clothing-in the simplest terms crossovers are vehicles that combine popular comfort and convenience features of cars with most of the capability of SUVs. That means, for example, that the traditional SUV's body on frame design has been replaced with a unibody design to take advantage of a lower ride height for ease of entry and exit. Unibody design also makes it easier to offer ride comfort and good handling.

One of the best examples of the latest crossover thinking is the new line of vehicles offered by General Motors. Available from Buick as the Enclave, from GMC as the Acadia and Chevrolet as the Traverse (and previously from Saturn as the Outlook), these crossovers demonstrate that style, comfort, convenience, and capability don't have to be mutually exclusive.

All of GM's large crossovers are built on the brand new "lambda" platform, and have the same powertrain, but that's where the similarity ends.  With this GM trio, styling is the name of the game.

Intentionally, the Buick Enclave shares no body panels with the Acadia or Traverse, and its distinctive styling lends an air of exclusivity. There will be no confusion in the parking lot.  Likewise, none of the vehicles have the same interior design-again intended to satisfy different preferences.  Think of the Traverse as modern simplicity, with the Acadia as "professional grade," but the fit and finish of the Buick interior moves Enclave to near-luxury status. And while the noise level inside the Acadia and Traverse is admirable, the interior of the Enclave is whisper-quiet, thanks to a concerted effort by Buick called "Quiet Tuning" to block out driveline and exterior noise. Premium features such as laminated windows are remarkably effective at minimizing wind and traffic noise.

The Interior configuration provides seating in various configurations for up to eight using three rows.  The third row is best suited for kids, but can adequately seat adults and still leave usable storage space behind it. Access to the third-row is made easier with an articulated second-row seat feature. Heated and cooled front seats are available.

Comfort and convenience features include Bluetooth with integrated steering wheel controls, allowing drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. Phone conversations are played through the vehicle's audio system and voice recognition interprets voice commands to dial phone numbers and name tags.

XM NavTraffic delivers real-time traffic information to the vehicle's touch-screen navigation system. XM NavTraffic is available in 80 major North American markets, with traffic flow and incident information in Toronto and only incident info in Montreal and Vancouver (no other Canadian cities have XM NavTraffic yet), and delivers comprehensive road condition data – such as crashes, traffic backups and road construction – to the subscriber's navigation screen.

OnStar Destination Download enables OnStar subscribers with screen-based navigation systems to quickly input their destination via the press of a button. OnStar eNav, meanwhile, allows subscribers a Turn-by-Turn Navigation service to find and save destinations on MapQuest.com and have those destinations sent to their vehicle's OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation system.

All entertainment packages add a 110-volt inverter, enabling customers to power portable electric plug-in items.

For Enclaves not equipped with the available navigation system, a rear backup camera can be integrated into the inside rearview mirror. A feature offered by few in the industry, it provides an increased level of safety.

Totally satisfactory performance comes from GM's 3.6-litre V6 with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing. This high-feature engine uses direct injection for good fuel economy, low emissions and smoothness. Rated at 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, the engine is coupled to a state-of-the-art six-speed automatic transmission.

The direct injection V6 engine is designed to operate with regular unleaded gasoline and produces power similar to many V8 engines. With direct injection, fuel is sprayed directly to the combustion chamber to create a more complete burn of the fuel/air mixture. As a result, less fuel is required to produce the equivalent horsepower of a conventional port-injection combustion system, especially at normal cruising speeds. Ninety percent of the Enclave engine's peak torque is available from approximately 2,500 rpm to more than 6,000 rpm. Also, using unique pistons with the direct injection system helps reduce cold-start emissions by 25 percent.

Enclave's engine is mated to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission. It features clutch-to-clutch shift operation, allowing for reduced complexity and compact packaging. A wide, 6.04:1 overall ratio helps the transmission deliver both performance and fuel economy, enabling up to a 7-percent improvement in performance and up to a 4-percent improvement in fuel economy when compared to current front-wheel-drive four-speed automatics.

The Enclave can tow up to 2,041 kilos (4,500 pounds) when properly equipped. The standard wheel size is 18 inches with 19s available. For those yearning to make a statement on the road, Enclave gets available 20-inch chrome wheels for 2010.

Also, AWD models feature an intelligent system that delivers enhanced driving dynamics and a more refined driving experience. Intelligent AWD takes full-time AWD performance to the next level by incorporating dynamic yaw control and fully integrating with the electronic stability control system. The system works by actively managing the torque split between the front and rear axles, based on factors such as vehicle speed, throttle and surface conditions.

With EPA-equivalent fuel economy ratings of 13.8 L/100km city and 9.8 highway for FWD models and 14.7 city L/100km and 10.7 highway for AWD models, Enclave is among the most fuel efficient eight-passenger multi-purpose vehicles on the road.  All models have a comprehensive safety system that includes six standard airbags and standard electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology.

Prices range from $43,505 for the CX to $52,490 for the CXL.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Buick, 2010, Enclave, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999,

Organizations: Buick

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