2008 Buick Enclave Long Term Road Test

2008 Buick Enclave: Oregon Holiday Trip, Day 7

December 30, 2007

After 7 days and some 1,500 miles in the saddle of our 2008 Buick Enclave, I've developed a few gripes.

1) I'm not a fan of fake wood in any car interior. The Buick annoys me in two ways: the "wood" on the dash is particularly shiny and plastic-looking; the "wood" on the steering wheel rim looks more authentic, but is too hard and slick. And they aren't even the same species of simu-wood! On the steering, we've got Fauxhogany, while the dash is trimmed with Bird's Eye Fakle. Don't get me started about the eyeball clock with its tiny face and its humungous blingy surround.

The four buttons just below the radio are used to control the trip computer.

2) I likeplaying withthe onboard trip computer - a lot.Checking the range, looking at how the average fuel consumption changes as I go up or down hills, comparing the trip odo with the miles-to-go on the nav display to see how far we've come- these are the things that keep me occupied on a drive I've done several dozen times.

The display has a perfectlocation in the gauge cluster, right where the driver can see it. But the controls are located just below the radio. I guess I could get used to it, but I still have to hunt around to select one of four same-sized buttons. This mid-cabin location has another disadvantage that GM engineers might not have thought of: I'm using it so often (every couple of minutes) that my wife started asking me things like "Why are always playing with those buttons?" and "What are you doing?" and "Would you just stop already?" If the buttons were on a stalk (more on that later) I could press them to my heart's content without having to undergo the Spanish Inquisition.

The front wipers are on a stalk on the left-hand side of the steering column. The rear wiper controls are about as far away from there as they could be.

3) It rains in Oregon - alot. So I'm always using the rear wiper, which is...where, again? It's not on the stalk with the front wiper. Oh, here it is, by the shifter. And what's this - a rocker switch? Again, I could get used to it...

What 2) and 3) need are a second steering column stalk. The Buick Enclave has only one on the left-hand side of the steering column. Perhaps it's a throwback to the days when all GM automatics were column shift. This one isn't (in any version or configuration), so a second stalk wouldn't interfere with the works. And it would allow moving related and oft-used controls like these up where the driver could easily find and use them without taking hands off the wheel.

Enough griping. How about fuel economy? Today I diligently followed the speed limit and used cruise control. I went 65 where it was posted 65, and 55 where that was the limit. Even as we got intoOakland, where the big-city "black hole" effect seemed to draw cars in with ever-increasing speed, I stuck to my 55 mph guns while others went flying by. "What's up?" asked my wife, "Are you feeling OK?"

With an average speed of 57.0 mph, we went 398.1 miles on 17.31 gallons. That's an even 23.0 mpg folks. On the trip up I hadn't been as diligent with my speed, going with the flow of traffic instead of the posted limit,andwe only managed 19.5 mpg.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,384 miles.

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