2008 Buick Enclave Long Term Road Test - Performance

2008 Buick Enclave Long Term Road Test

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2008 Buick Enclave: Back Again

August 25, 2008


Ever take a break from a car and come back to it only to find that it's not quite how you remember it? That was me last week when I took the keys to our Buick Enclave. I had last driven it six months ago. When pulling out of the Edmunds parking garage, the Buick seemed like a big bowl of mush, with a squishy brake pedal, a wallowing ride and vague steering. I didn't remember it being this bad.

Then again, I had been driving our Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution around for two weeks prior to the Buick. My perspective had been skewed.

Now that I have acclimated to the Enclave (again), we're best friends.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 22,337 miles

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2008 Buick Enclave: Dirt. Power Steering Failure. Coincidence?

July 23, 2008



The power steering problems we've been having with our long term 2008 Buick Enclave have been well documented in this blog, but you still don't know the whole story. What we haven't told you is that the power steering trouble started soon after this little off road excurstion.

Now I'm not sure the two are definitely related, and we have no way of knowing if they are for sure, but it wasn't long (a week or two) after we drove the SUV through this silty dirt for several hours that the power steering got funky.

I'll also admit that the front-wheel drive Enclave isn't really geared up for such terrain. Although it never got stuck, it did struggle through some of the deeper sections. And it was clear and no surprise to its passengers that the Enclave wanted back on the highway as soon as possible.

Still, it isour job is to test a vehicle, and any SUV should be able to drive though some dirt without having major systems failure soon after. Again, I'm not saying this off road adventure (for sure) caused our power steering failure, but the timing is suspect.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2008 Buick Enclave CX: Much Better Than the Outlook

May 07, 2008

A friend of mine is finally giving up on his thirsty Jeep Grand Cherokee in favor of something a little more fuel efficient, not to mention reliable (it's a mid-90s JGC). So after discussing the needs of his growing family and fragile ego (he really wants a Tahoe), my recommendation was a Saturn Outlook since he didn't like the styling of the Acadia.

We just so happened to have an Outlook here in the office, so I took it for a drive to reassure myself it was the right choice. It drives fine, but then I took our long term Buick Enclave home for the night. Now I think he should buy the Buick instead.
As competent as the Outlook is for family transportation, the Buick feels like a more finished product. It’s quieter inside, feels better on the road and has a far more pleasing interior design. And this is an Enclave with over 17K miles on it. Granted, the Enclave requires an extra $2K to start, but I think it would be money well spent.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 17,845 miles

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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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2008 Buick Enclave CX: Smooth Operator

March 10, 2008

This weekend I put a substantial number of miles, both freeway and city street, on our 2008 Buick Enclave, and I am so impressed with its ride. It's remarkably smooth, and a perfect exemplar of why crossover platforms make so much sense. It's huge, no doubt about it, but it rides well, it slides around corners, and it feels confident and composed at high speeds.

In the past, I have taken issue with some modern sedans, like the Camry, because they're so smooth anddisconnected from the roadthat you can go 100 and feel like you're going 40... Due to its size, the Enclave never feels that way. It's remarkably soft and comfortable, but always transmits enough feel that it won't catch you off guard.

Different passengers this weekend all commented on how lush and well-appointed it looks inside, its ample front legroom, and its smoothness. One friend even lavished it with his highest praise: "Pimpin'." Whoever thought a Buick crossover with three rows of seats could be *pimpin'*?

Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor @ 13,177 miles

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2008 Buick Enclave CX: This is the Best Vehicle GM Makes

January 16, 2008

We've had our Buick Enclave for months now, but I've only recently had the chance to get some seat time. Between my limited need for seven-passenger seating and the fact that it's a Buick, I had pretty much avoided the big crossover.

Turns out, I had no reason to fear the big brute. In fact, I was missing out... The Enclave is not only the best Buick in the lineup, it's probably the best overall vehicle GM makes. And it's not because of all the new features or the monstrous interior. This Buick is impressive because it gets all the small things right.

The V6 is not only strong and quiet, it's refined at full throttle. The steering isn't overboosted and the suspension is well tuned. The windows are one touch on the way up and down, and even the cloth seats are nicely shaped and comfortable. Nothing in the interior screams cheap and the doors shut with a solid thud. It all sounds so basic, so obvious, but this is the kind of stuff GM has been getting wrong for years.

And with that, I will no longer avoid the Buick. See GM, it's just that easy.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 9,510

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2008 Buick Enclave: Oregon Trip Wrap-up

January 04, 2008

Wouldn't you just know it? After a 2,000 mile there-and-back-again trip to Oregon in our 2008 Buick Enclave, I get sick just as I'm getting home. Nice. I'd wanted to wrap-up this a few days ago, but better late than never. Here goes:

The Buick seems optimized for those who are not in a hurry and prefer a somewhat relaxed pace. This doesn't mean the Enclave is a clumsy yacht or a rolling couch, because it isn't. The Enclave is coordinated and balanced up to a certain point. If you push harder, it doesn't "lose it", it simply fails to reward the enthusiast driver - not a serious flaw for a family truckster such as this.

Ride: The Buick rides smooth and quiet, just like you'd expect, and it feels well-balanced with one or two aboard and no cargo. But itgoes a bit soft and underdamped in the rear when four plus presents and luggage are present. This seems about right for the comfort-minded, but it leaves me wondering if my personal preference would havebeen better served by the GMC Acadia or Saturn Outlook. I smell a follow-up.

Steering and handling: The Buick has good coordination and feels more agile than any truck-based SUV, but it doesn't respondin kindwhen pushed - it simply starts toshow its weight. Steering accuracy is there, but feedback is not. I didn't like the slick, cold and spindly feel of the wooden segments of the steering wheel, either. Full-leather wrap for me, please.

Cargo and seating: This is a true 3-row vehicle. When we get to my folkshouse, the six of usmake the 25-mile run into town forpizza in whatever I bring. Unlike the Commander I brought two summers ago, everyone had plenty of space. Last year, the Tahoe couldn't make the pizza run at all because I'd had to leave its suitcase-style third seats in my California garage in order to carry as much as the Enclave can withits bigger third seats merely folded into the floor. Still, my folks' 2005 Honda Odyssey minivan holds a lot more in any seating configuration you care to compare.

Engine and transmission: I never lacked for power or torque, but I found the economy-minded transmission reluctant to kick-down. Sure, I could have used the +/- buttons (and I did), but I would have had to do thatoften on the rolling terrain of US 101. C'mon, this is an automatic - a six-speed automatic - and I want to leave it in "D". The manual overridemodeshould serve those who want to use it. One shouldn't have to use itfor miles and miles at a time. Coming home, however, I drovea slower paceand ran afoul of the transmission calibration less often. And I got significantly better...

Fuel Economy: On the trip up, I drove semi-aggressively, swore at the reluctant kickdown, used manual shifting from time to timeand overrode the cruise control often. I achieved an even 20.0 mpg average over 2 tanks and 821 miles. On the way back I used the cruise control religiously, set it at the posted limit, drove my wife nuts ("I want to get HOME"), watched the traffic sail past, felt more at ease with the transmission and achieved 24.3 mpg, a 20% improvement.Over the same two-tank distance I used 7.0 fewer gallons and spent $26.17 less. And yes, that 25.6 mpg best tank turned out to be legit. I actually beat our 2WD Enclave's 16 city / 24 highway EPA ratings.

Enjoying the Buick, then, is all about getting in synch with its personality. Considering the driving habits of the traditional Buick (or Camry/Highlander) buyer, I'd say they'll have many satisfied customers. I don't think I quite fit the mold this CUV came out of, however, and I see room for improvement.If they ever made a Cadillac version of this, for example,with some of the feel of the SRX webrought to Oregon last summer, I'd be right there.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,880 miles

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2008 Buick Enclave: Nautical No More

December 18, 2007

In recent times,Buicks havebeen known for a driving experience similar to this.

However, the 2008 Buick Enclave thunders down the road like this.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests