At a recent preview look at the new Enclave, Buick boss Steve Shannon was overheard whispering that the new crossover was "the closest thing we've ever had to no excuses" and he's probably right. When the Enclave goes on sale in mid-May, it will be priced "significantly lower than the Acura MDX" with a sticker that we estimate will be near $34,000. For that, you get standard eighteen-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights (with articulation costing extra), six air bags, and a number of other fine features. Buick also had a team of thirteen working to make sure the Enclave is the quietest vehicle in its class.
The Enclave's 275-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 won't make it the quickest crossover around, but variable valve timing helps raise performance and efficiency figures. We've been quite impressed by the engine, which is found in a number of other GM vehicles, including the Buick LaCrosse. That car, though, won't tow 4500 pounds like the Enclave can.
The production Enclave keeps the same swoopy sheetmetal as the concept from last year's Detroit show, a big improvement over the outgoing Rainer and Terraza, Buick's current people-movers. Unlike the concept, which featured functional fender-mounted portholes, the production model's nonfunctional holes serve no purpose other than getting faithful retirees to reminisce about their old '63 Electra 225. "Now that was a real car," they'll tell you. "Not one of these new-fangled things with all the computers." But we digress.
The Enclave's interior is similar to that of the concept, too. Like many GM products, though, it's nice to look at but disappointing when you get a little closer and realize that the plastics could be softer and the wood could be a little more, well, real. (Excepting, of course, the actual mahogany that adorns the steering wheel of uplevel models.) Still, we're excited to see if this leader of the Buick new school can help propel the stodgy brand into the twenty-first century.