2008 Buick Enclave: Rear Seat Review
February 08, 2008
Our 2008 Buick Enclave is one of five, three-row vehicles we have in the fleet right now. In general, we've been very impressed with the comfort and roominess of the Enclave. But having not sat in the back myself, I was curious to find out how well it all worked.
Here's what I learned.
Design: Our Enclave has the typical seven-passenger setup, which includes two second-row captain's chairs and a third-row 60/40-split third-row seat. The captain's chairs slide fore and aft and have reclining seatbacks. One can also fold the second- and third-row seatbacks down to create a flat load floor.
Ease of use: The seat operation is well thought-out. Sliding the chairs forward for access to the third row is easy (you just pull a lever) and it opens up a decent walkthrough. Pulling a strap flips the seatback of a captain's chair flat. If you're already in our Enclave, you can get to the third row pretty easily by slipping past the two captain's chairs. A second-row console is optional.
Comfort: The Enclave, Outlook and Acadia have been praised for their roomy interiors. This shows up most in the third row. I'm 5-foot, 10-inches tall. Sitting in the way back, I have enough headroom and legroom to be respectably comfortable, especially if the captain's chairs are moved forward. The high perch created by the rear wheel wells also serve quite nicely as armrests.
I'm actually disappointed in the comfort of the captain's chairs, however. Yes, they recline and slide, but they are mounted low to the floor to enable the flat cargo floor. This results in a "knee's up" seating position. The head restraints look like they are adjustable, but in fact aren't.
Accessories: The Enclave comes standard with rear-seat audio controls and an accessory climate control unit. I've previously posted my opinion of GM's rear-seat audio here. I was impressed by the climate system, though. There's a roof air vent for each outboard rear passenger and a big heater vent underneath the third row. Fan speed and temperature range seem to be quite useful.
Our vehicle also has the optional double-pane sunroof. The rear glass is fixed with a power-operated sunroof. It's nice. But is it $1,300 nice? Well, I guess that depends on how much you or your family likes to have glass above your heads.
Conclusion: One reader previously suggested that we compare our Enclave's seating to our CX-9; unfortunately, the Mazda wasn't around when I was evaluating the Buick. Still, the rear seating in our Enclave is pretty impressive. For a stylish minivan alternative -- and that's really what the Enclave, Acadia and Outlook are -- they work quite well. Just don't expect the upmost versatility of a minivan.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor