2008 Buick Enclave – First Impressions

Buick Expert Reviews

By Twain Mein

My grandparents always owned Buicks; they were GM’s high-end line that featured luxury without the pretense of Cadillac. I’ll never forget their gargantuan ’72 Estate wagon with its 8 mpg 455CI V-8 and rear window that would roll up into the roof, and the ’76 Riviera with it’s torquey 460CI V-8 and power everything. In the sixties and seventies, Buicks offered lots of power and creature comforts with distinctive styling. But during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, Buick sort of lost it’s way as GM struggled to segment and differentiate their brands. Recently, Buick has come back with the refreshingly styled Lucerne and Lacrosse. And their boldest new entry is the Enclave crossover.

The 2008 Enclave is a 4-door, 7-passenger SUV, available in 4 trims, ranging from the CX FWD to the CXL AWD. The Enclave is built on the same platform as the GMC Acadia, Saturn Aura, and Chevrolet Traverse. But the Enclave is claimed to offer the most luxury, quietest ride, and most distinctive styling. We tested the base model which didn’t have leather seats or four wheel drive. It’s only options were $780 special white/pearl paint and $520 for rear parking assist. As equipped, the Enclave stickered for $36,000.

The Enclave’s claim to fame is reasonable gas mileage (16/24 mpg), unique styling, and room for 7. While the Buick didn’t deliver on the gas mileage claim (I averaged 16.5 with mixed city and highway driving), the styling was appealing. The exterior is unmistakable and, in my view, at least as attractive as the Audi Q7. The interior, despite it’s cloth seats, features good ergonomics, a wonderful wood and leather steering wheel, and high quality feeling switchgear. They also did a great job executing the second and third row seats. The second row captain’s chairs can be slide for/aft and allow plenty of leg and head room for adults. The center is open allowing for easy access to the surprisingly roomy third row; full sized adults can easily sit with comfort and space. Best of all, from the cargo area (with it’s one-touch power lift gate), the third row seats can easily be lifted or collapsed thanks a strap that is easy to use and use. My only beef with the interior: couldn’t figure out how to raise the head rests in the second row.

Driving the Enclave was a bit disappointing. Visibility out the rear and sides is a bit challenging; the windows taper down making it hard to see out. And the engine needs more power; it’s slow off the line and the power train is in a flat spot at 70mph. I’m convinced that white cars tend to be invisible to other drivers and had a few people drift over into my lane.

In sum, the Enclave delivered on its styling and interior room. But its power and fuel economy came up short against my expectations. For around the same price point, I would still choose the Honda Odyssey.

  Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.0 4.0 3.0 4.0 4.0 3.5 3.75/C+

BuickOfficial Buick luxury cars and SUVs website – www.buick.com

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  • Twain says:

    Zach-thanks for the comments. I stand corrected, esp on the spelling (!).

  • Zach says:

    Just pointing out that Buick never made a 460 ci V8, 455 was the biggest. It’s also spelled: Riviera.

  • Derek says:

    I rented an Enclave for a few days while on vacation. Very comfortable and roomy. The difficulty was with parking and maneuvering such a large vehicle. A backup camera would have been nice, but at least I had the backup sensors.

    Average MPG after logging almost a hundred miles on the big island of Hawaii was 18 mpg.

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