REVIEWS: 2008 Buick Enclave CXL

By Joe DeMatio - September 25, 2008
0809 02 Z+2008 Buick Enclave CXL+side View
This vehicle can be described in one word: Isolation. The Enclave is one of the quietest cars I've ever been in, and that list includes heavy-hitting luminaries like the Mercedes-Benz S-class and the Bentley Arnage. The lack of outside noise intrusion in this thing - remarkable on its own but doubly so when compared with the Enclave's platform-sharing Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia siblings - is nothing short of amazing. Expansion joints, construction noise, other cars, semis, anything - most outside noises are so muted and distant that you find yourself going faster than you normally would. Odd. Nice, but odd.
To my mind, this is what a Buick should be: a car for people who don't necessarily like cars, a driving experience for people who want to forget that they're driving. It's a composed, perfectly capable, not-too-expensive living room on wheels. And when all is said and done, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor
0809 01 Z+2008 Buick Enclave CXL+front Three Quarter View
I live in the country in a Civil War-era farmhouse, with acres of restored wetlands and native prairie grasses. Our big flower garden needed sprucing up with fall flowering plants, because the summer flowers were dying off, and the Buick Enclave was the best vehicle in the test fleet for the huge chrysanthemum buy at the local greenhouse. The Enclave's hatchback whips itself open with a tug of its handle. The third-row seat folds flat, opening up a big space that easily swallowed twelve gallon-sized potted mums. The cabin feels more like a full-sized SUV's than a crossover, but its superbly responsive 3.6-liter V-6 engine earns an EPA 16 city/24 highway mpg rating, which is quite an improvement from the fuel pains of a big SUV.
0809 04 Z+2008 Buick Enclave CXL+fold Down Passenger Chair
It just felt a little weird, though, doing farm chores in a vehicle dressed to go to the opera. For instance, the cargo area is thickly carpeted. The taupe-over-beige interior is all leather and shiny, shiny wood accents. We drove a 2008 CXL model, which is not that much more lovely than the very plush base model - you get better wheels and tires, better rearview mirrors, and better fronts seats (as in heated leather). For 2009, I note, heated-and-cooled front seats are a stand-alone option, so you can get them on the less-expensive CL model.
I certainly did not mind being treated to what Sam describes as one of the quietest SUV rides I've experienced. It just confuses people when the shiny new Enclave (in Red Jewel) pulls up and the woman in dirty blue jeans, tee-shirt, and Chaco's jumps out.
That last paragraph of Sam's, however, I don't get. What's not to like about driving such a well-composed, useful, beautifully appointed crossover?
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
0809 03 Z+2008 Buick Enclave CXL+cockpit
GM decided a while ago that it would try to make Buick its Lexus. As part of that effort, it implemented a new engineering program for all Buicks called "QuietTuning," featuring greater application of existing sound-deadening technologies like door and window gaskets, double-glazed windshields and side glass, engine compartment insulation, and careful attention to aerodynamics. The Enclave is probably the greatest beneficiary of the QuietTuning program. I attended the Enclave media launch in June 2007, and Buick engineers had set up several demonstrations that showcased the Enclave's quietness, including a series of recordings taken at highway speeds inside the cabins of the Enclave, the Lexus RX, and a couple of other premium crossovers. The Enclave recording was noticeably quieter.
Buick has hardly become Lexus overnight, but QuietTuning is just one manifestation of the obvious attention that Buick paid toward making its version of the corporate mid-size crossover platform the most luxurious, the best looking, and the best to drive. (The Enclave's corporate cousins include the GMC Acadia, the Chevrolet Traverse, and the Saturn Outlook.) The exterior design is downright voluptuous, which is exactly what a Buick should be; no spare, Bauhaus-inspired aesthetic here, please - leave that to Audi. No, I like the Enclave's richness and sumptuousness, and its quietness, just fine.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
2008 Buick Enclave CXL FWD
0809 05 Z+2008 Buick Enclave CXL+rear Three Quarter View
Base Price (with destination) : $35,760
Price as tested: $38,850
Options:
-19-inch chromed aluminum wheels $1495 (less $300 wheel content credit)
-Entertainment package $980
-Driver confidence package $520
-Red jewel tintcoat $395
Fuel Economy: 16/24/19 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Engine:
Size: 3.6-liter, 24-valve aluminum V-6
HP: 275 @ 6600 rpm
Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Weight: 4780 lbs
Wheel/Tire Info: P255/60R19 (size)

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