2010 Buick Enclave CXL-2 FWD
You may remember, from not that long ago, those TV commercials starring former GM CEO Ed Whitacre proclaiming that General Motors is dedicated to designing and building the best cars and trucks, bar none. Given his folksy, straight-talking manner, it is the sort of message that you want to believe because he seems so, well, believable. The something-detector that you have built in tells you that it would be hard to imagine him stating the company is fixed firmly on producing pretty good or merely competitive cars and trucks, although one could argue that one of the primary contributing factors to GM’s filing for bankruptcy came as a result of doing no better than that for a number of years.
Today, Whitacre is gone from the company. His successor, Daniel F. Akerson, is undoubtedly spending his days and nights thinking about the road show that GM is going to be putting on as it works towards selling stock via an IPO. When he and his colleagues go on the road, they might want to consider doing so in a Buick Enclave, as it provides the level of driving comfort that can make a highly stressed executive or anyone else for that matter feel at ease. It really is a good vehicle for those looking for legendary Buick ride, but unexpectedly responsive handling.
Behind the wheel for the first time, it was like piloting an airship, but not a blimp. Rather, it was more along the lines of something that would have been developed post-Hindenburg had there not been that Led Zepplin album cover moment. It provides a soft-but-comfortable ride.
Some of you may scoff and think that this is what some lazy middle-aged guy would want, that real drivers of any merit or standing wouldn’t stand for “soft-but-comfortable.” Somehow, the how thing of a tight, jarring setup doesn’t seem all that appealing when you consider the state of many of the highways in states like Michigan; driving, say, between Plymouth and Ann Arbor on M-14 in something that was engineered for the autobahn but is traversing a stretch of road that resembles the Moon at its most pock-marked, isn’t all that ennobling.
Exterior: Really like the richness of the optional ($795) White Diamond Tricoat paint. While you may not be comfortable paying for paint as an option, realize that to get the color they actually paint it more than once. So you really are getting your money’s worth. The headlights—or the more impressive-sounding “High Intensity Discharge Headlamps”—are well designed. Funny how headlamps have gone from being the sorts of things that were just there to something of note from a design point of view. (Yes, there is the issue of functionality, as well.)
Interior: There are wood accents. The way the material is finished, it began to make me wonder just how you chop down a plastic tree. It ill serves the accompanying leather surfaces, which are night, especially the comfy eight-way power-and-heated-and-cooled driver’s seat. One curiosity about the interior setup, something that may be a holdover from the development program when decontenting was the rage: The Enclave, a Buick, will undoubtedly be driven by somewhat prosperous business people (the base MSRP for the three-row crossover is $41,995, and when you add in things like the aforementioned paint and a powered sunroof with a second row skylight and the like, pretty soon you’re bumping just below $49K—not a price point for the faint of wallet). Business people often wear suit coats or other jackets that they like to remove and hang before driving to their next appointment. The coat hook isn’t at the second row, but actually back along the side of the headliner in the third, a location that required a long reach and too much pant leg along the door sill to access. Trivial, but frustrating. While that is awkward, the vehicle is utile, offering 18.9 cubic feet of EPA cargo space behind the third row, and even more—up to 115.3 cubic-feet—behind the first row with the rest stowed and removed.
Power: A 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic. Sufficient to the task—and realize that the task involves a curb weight of 4,780 lb. for the front-wheel-drive version. But if you have drag racing with an EcoBoost Ford Flex in mind, you’re going to get stomped.
Ride & Handling: See above.
Assessment: Quiet, comfortable, roomy, and visually not-too-garish. (The standard 19-in. chrome-clad wheels seem a bit too bright-and-shiny, too: “Look at me; I’m driving a car that you can tell is expensive because it has bright, shiny wheels!”)
Engine: 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and direct injection
Material: Aluminum block and heads
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed with manual shift control
Horsepower: 288 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
Length: 201.5 in.
Wheelbase: 119 in.
Width: 79 in.
Height: 72.5 in.
EPA: 17/24 city/highway MPG
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