2011 Buick Enclave CXL-2 FWD
Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Officially branded by Buick as a “luxury crossover,” an informed car buyers’ first encounter with the Enclave may lead them to wonder if General Motors had classed the car incorrectly. With its roomy, fully-equipped, seven-seating interior and ample rear storage volume equating to an exterior mass of cargo van-like proportion, then fixed atop Enclave’s standard 19-inch wheels, this “crossover” rides higher than most SUVs on the road. However, the 2011 model was built up from a sedan-framed auto platform nonetheless, its broad, wide and raised stature notwithstanding.

Undeniable however, is the validity of the Enclave’s luxury. A power lift-gate, wood accents, leather seating, tri-zone climate control, ultrasonic parking assist and a rear-view camera system are among the comprehensively long list of standard features. The console is completely tech-ed out too, equipped with a six-month OnStar package and XM radio along with  every plug, port and Bluetooth to accommodate practically every portable/mobile device currently on the market. And from the outside, the big and bold exterior fascia design is molded with strong lines across the side panels, jutted points in the grille and rounded corners wrapping around the tailgate. The overall evocation possesses a standout contemporary nouveau distinction without cheapening the upscale facade expected of luxury vehicles.

That aside, the Enclave may not be the best-suited for city driving. While the pick-up is efficiently swift, braking isn’t hard or stammered and the overall ride is level and smooth, the model’s design appears to lend itself to making wide turns. This renders the driver to awkwardly attempt to cut into the turn tighter which the steering seems to resist. Its ground clearance combined the narrow and curved back windows would make parallel parking impossible if not for the parking assist systems. And the FWD doesn’t always compensate for hauling the car’s large mass, as the front tires are apt to spin if making a hard advance from a stopped position.

Yet it may stand to reason that the Enclave wasn’t designed for city travel anyway. Affording complete comfort, class and personal accommodation to every passenger seat, the Enclave may have been intended for wide, open country roads where both the driver and the driven can just stretch out, relax and take it slow.

~$39-42,000 base; ~$49,000 fully equipped.