Buick Enclave CXL
- Written by Patsy Oliver
An auto review for the average driver ... Each week, The Tribune will feature a different automobile, test driven by me, the average driver. Stop by our office, 18525 West Lake Houston Parkway, if you would like to see the latest car or go for a ride! My past experience with the few Buicks that I've driven is that they offer a smooth and quiet ride. The Enclave is no exception. I'll admit that I had no idea what the Enclave would look like when I first heard that it was coming. I was pleased to see that it would seat seven (eight if you have a second-row bench instead of captain's chairs), as my family was flying in for the holidays. I picked them up from the airport and we got all of their luggage (five people) behind the third-row seat, with the exception of one bag. I have a friend who is now shopping for a 7-passenger vehicle, to get out of the minivan now scorned by her teenage son. I took her and her husband for a ride because they said they were interested in the Enclave, but hadn't been in one. They were impressed, as were my family. The Enclave is luxurious, from the inside out, and the ride is great. It handles like car and is as wide and long as the Chevy Tahoe, but lower to the ground. My mother had no trouble getting in and out, even with her bad knee. The kids loved the DVD screens on the front seatbacks. The second row has two captain's chairs, with easy pass-thru to the third seat. The dash is nice. The clock is centered, with hands instead of the digital read-out. Everyone that I took for a ride had positive comments about the clock. Sometimes it's the little things that people really notice. A little thing that caught my eye was the tiny, orange light that softly illuminates, from above, the center console. No hunting for the cupholders or where you put your cell phone in the dark. It's very subtle, not intrusive at all. I didn't even notice it until the second night I drove it. Everything about the exterior is sleek and aerodynamic, right up to the cargo rails on top. This is a very good-looking vehicle, and has the rest of the package to back up its initial appeal. Among the standard features on the Enclave CXL are a 3.6-liter V-6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, dual exhaust with chrome tips (friend's husband liked a lot), anti-lock brakes, stability control, leather seats (power and heat in front), traction control, all the latest airbags (even roof-mounted for third-row passengers), child LATCH safety system, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, one year of OnStar, power liftgate, high intensity projector headlights and fog lamps. There are two styles -- the CX and the more inclusive CXL. All-wheel drive is an option for both. Base price is from about $32,285 to $34,990. You could easily add options and push the CXL's price to $40,000. I enjoyed almost everything about the Enclave. One drawback for me was that it seems to hesitate slightly upon quick acceleration -- a result, I suspect, of the large size versus the V-6 engine. All Enclaves come with the power liftgate, but power folding third-row seats would prove more useful for me. The Enclave gets an EPA fuel economy estimate of 16 city and 24 highway miles per gallon. As for safety, it scored five stars for front and side impact, and four for rollover. I would strongly encourage those looking for a new 7-passenger ride, or maybe hoping to break free from their minivan, to take an Enclave for a spin. It may be time to cross over, and this crossover delivers.