2008 Buick Enclave Long Term Road Test


2008 Buick Enclave CX: Not the Same as GMC Acadia

April 02, 2008

Our long-term 2008 Buick Enclave is a mechanical twin to the GMC Acadia. They share the same basic chassis, suspension geometry and powertrain. They drive much differently, however.

This could be due to myriad factors like damper valving, bushing durometer, stabilizer bar endlinks and more, but I suspect it's largely down to the tires. The Acadia, which I drove extensively for our recent Crossover vs. Minivan vs. SUV comparison test, sported optional 255/60 Goodyear RS-A tires on 19" wheels. Our Buick wears the 255/65 Goodyear Forteras on 18" wheels, a base package shared with entry-level Acadias.

The upshot is that the Acadia turns in much more crisply and exhibits less steering imprecision than our Enclave, which has sidewalls that wind up like a torsion spring. This results in steering effort in the Buick that doesn't build up as linearly as that of the GMC.

I much prefer the Acadia's dynamic character, but I'd argue that the relative numbness of the base tire/wheel package is appropriate for the Enclave considering that it is a Buick, and as such needs to ride like a Buick. A Buick customer is historically an older demographic more concerned with a smooth, quiet ride than steering precision. That would help explain the Enclave's fake wood and pencil-thin steering wheel rim, too.

GM knows this, too, which is why the optional 19-inch wheel package for the Buick includes Michelins that you can't get on the Acadia or Outlook. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that they have softer sidewalls than the 19s on the Acadia.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 14,931 miles

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