2011 Buick Enclave CXL-2 AWD

Matt Tierney

It's hard to believe that Buick has sold almost 24,000 Enclaves so far this year. It's not that it's bad to drive or unattractive -- in fact, it's actually is quite good to drive and the fit and finish of the interior is excellent -- it just looks a bit old fashioned to my eyes, inside and out. The sparkly dark brown paint on this particular vehicle really helps give the somewhat bulbous exterior a more sophisticated look. On the inside, there is nothing wrong the layout of the cabin but the use of multiple colors and textures make the cabin look messy. These criticisms are my own personal opinion though and, considering that the vehicle is selling so well, the Enclave's interior must not be too big of an issue with consumers. But it is likely that the outdated navigation graphics and display are something that potential buyer's would notice, especially if they have spent time in any of the Enclave's competitors, specifically the Acura MDX.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

I must disclose that I have never been a big fan of General Motor's large "Lambda" crossovers (the Chevrolet Traverse, the GMC Acadia, the Buick Enclave, and the now-dead Saturn Outlook). After spending a week with a Traverse last year, I was amazed at its price tag -- within a couple grand of that for a similarly equipped Enclave. When stacked against its Traverse and Acadia platform-mates, the Enclave is head-and-shoulders above the rest. Its design is much more cohesive (and immediately recognizable as a Buick), its powertrain seems quieter and more refined, and its interior is better designed and thought-out. If you're going to buy a Lambda crossover, the Enclave is your way to go.

However, if you are willing to look outside of GM's stable, the competition is compelling. If maximum size isn't a factor, Acura's MDX offers a much more luxurious package for the same price. Unlike the Enclave, where you can see exactly what bits are shared with the Chevy and GMC, there is little to betray the fact that the MDX and the Honda Pilot and Odyssey are related. The MDX also drives much more like a sporty car, versus the Enclave's more lumbering ride. If space is an issue, take a look at the Ford Flex, which offers just as much in-car tech and luxurious accommodations as the Lincoln MKT.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

The Lambda platform vehicles are one instance where GM did a commendable job of making each variant look distinct, rather than subjecting each brand to a taillight-exchange styling program, as was often the case in years past. The Enclave in particular looks so different from its GM brethren that it's hard to believe they're so closely related.

The Enclave does exactly what its intended to do, and does it very well. It's a handsome vehicle that looks upmarket, carries its passengers in comfort and is well mannered on the road. The ride is smoother than most SUVs and crossovers, and even minivans, and it's more nimble than one might expect, given its size. Calls for a bigger engine are misguided, as I believe this V-6 is a perfect match for the vehicle, and will satisfy 99% of potential buyers. Buyers test-driving Hemi-equipped Dodge Durangos are not cross-shopping the Enclave, in my opinion.

One thing to note, that my wife pointed out, is despite the seating position and height of the car, visibility is not the best. The A-pillar creates a massive blind spot, especially for a smaller driver with the seat moved forward.

One final complaint regarding the rear captains chairs, and I recall this from the Acadia as well: GM mounts the seatbelt buckle on a fixed, angled inward post that makes the seat too narrow to properly position even a basic booster seat, and buckling the angled clasp in makes it even harder. No parent likes a car where the kids are unable to easily buckle themselves. Annoying.

Those two things aside, I suspect most Enclave buyers will be extremely pleased with their decision, and it will meet their needs perfectly.

Matt Tierney, Art Director

It's an easy trope to dismiss Buick as a brand meant only for old people who no longer care about driving. Indeed, Buick notes that the average Enclave buyer is 59 years old. Yet the Enclave remains a compelling choice for buyers of any age who want a seven-seat crossover. It's incredibly roomy inside, drives well, and looks quite smart with its chrome trim and 19-inch wheels.

From the driver's seat, the Enclave does feel more like a heavy SUV than a modern crossover, but the suspension is refined and doesn't have the floaty feel that inspired stereotypes about older Buicks. The standard V-6 provides a good balance between acceleration and fuel economy -- I don't see any need for a larger engine.

There are several sore points that betray the Enclave's upscale appearance, including cheap-looking wood trim and somewhat dated switchgear and electronics. As our test example is closing in on $50,000, I might be tempted to cross-shop the similar but cheaper Chevrolet Traverse.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

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