Once thought to be a dying brand, Buick currently has a solid lineup with promising new models in the pipeline, and the Buick Enclave was the key to the division's about-face when it went on sale in 2007. With no shortage of luxury crossovers and SUVs on the market right now, the Buick Enclave manages to stand out from other competitors with its spacious, innovative interior layout and fresh, unique exterior design. The 2010 Buick Enclave, along with the recently redesigned 2010 Buick LaCrosse, is also helping draw younger buyers into dealership showrooms further improving the 107-year-old automaker's brand image.
Assembled at the General Motors Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant alongside the GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse, the Buick Enclave is available in three trim levels (CX, CXL-1 and CXL-2) with a starting MSRP of $35,165. The Enclave's functionality and price point make it a good competitor to luxury crossovers such as the Acura MDX and Audi Q7 as well as some higher trim level crossovers and minivans like the Ford Flex Limited and the Chrysler Town & Country. The Buick Enclave CXL-2 FWD used for this review had a base MSRP of $41,965 with an as-tested price of $48,605 after adding in some impressive options and the $775 destination charge.
2010 Buick Enclave Exterior
As the first vehicle to be introduced using GM's Lambda platform, the Buick Enclave was a significant step in Buick's current turnaround with a fresh and stylish design that has helped inspire more exciting vehicles like the award-winning Buick LaCrosse and the upcoming Buick Regal. Even after three years on the market, the Buick Enclave's exterior still gives it a unique and recognizable look against other luxury crossovers and SUVs. In keeping with Buick tradition, the Enclave features the signature waterfall grille and fender/hood portholes, but the rest of the design marks a refreshing departure from the bad ol' days of GM's badge-engineering era thanks to body that is almost entirely different from its sister cars. Of the Lambda crossovers, including the recently departed Saturn Outlook, the Enclave is easily the most attractive with the large, jewel-like headlamps, pronounced fender arches and the stylish rear window line drawing attention to the Buick logo.
From just about every angle, the Buick Enclave has a smooth, elegant shape, but this particular test vehicle looked even better with Buick's pearlescent White Diamond Tricoat exterior paint and a two-tone effect with a darker beige color along the bottom edge. Adding even more sparkle to this eye-catching color, the Enclave is trimmed with a tasteful amount of chrome trim on many surfaces including the grille, roof racks, door handles, side window moldings, taillights and the front and rear fascias. Although the 2010 Enclave now offers 20-inch chrome wheels as an option, the test vehicle was finished off with the standard 19-inch, seven-spoke chrome wheels.
2010 Buick Enclave Interior
Just as the exterior styling of the Buick Enclave is easily distinguishable from the Traverse and Acadia, the interior also gets a unique design treatment that is both elegant and luxurious. The most distinguishing part of the Enclave's interior is the instrument panel that features a rounded hood for the gauge cluster with a matching round top for the center stack and a chrome-ringed analog clock between the center HVAC vents. This test vehicle came with the two-tone cashmere and cocoa layout that had a dark brown over light beige color scheme on the instrument panel, door panel and the front and rear center consoles with light wood accent trim throughout the cabin including the gauge cluster and steering wheel. While the use of exterior chrome definitely gave the Enclave a more upscale look, the amount of chrome inside proved to be a blinding hassle in certain conditions.
Lexus probably has the most comfortable interiors of any mainstream luxury brands, but the Buick Enclave is very impressive in terms of touch points, use of materials and overall comfort. Every touch point is either covered in a well-padded material, soft leather or authentic-feeling metals and wood. Front-seat passengers are treated to amenities such as heated and ventilated seats and a massive center console, but the rear-seat occupants are also treated to optional niceties such as the ($3,185) rear-seat DVD entertainment system, ($1,400) dual panel sunroof and skylight and the ($300) middle-row center console. A 110-volt power outlet, front USB port, rearview camera and Bose audio system are all standard equipment on the 2010 Buick Enclave CXL-2 FWD.
Another strong point for the Buick is the shear size of the cabin. One of the best parts of the interior is that the third-row seat isn't reserved for children as it offers plenty of legroom and headroom for taller adult passengers, but even more impressive is the fact that even with seven passengers, the Enclave can hold 23.2 cubic feet of cargo (more than a Lincoln Navigator). With the rear seat folded down, cargo space increases to 67.5 cubic feet, and with both rear rows folded flat, the Enclave maxes out at 115.3 cubic of total cargo volume (almost 20 cubic feet more than the Infiniti QX56).
2010 Buick Enclave Performance & Handling
As is the case with all of GM's Lambda crossovers, the 2010 Buick Enclave is powered solely by the 3.6-liter V-6 that uses variable valve timing (VVT) and direct injection to produce 288 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Although a V-8 engine would probably make a great optional engine for the Enclave to compete against luxury SUVs like the Lincoln Navigator, the V-6 delivers plenty of power and relatively quick acceleration. Backing up this engine is the smooth-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission featuring a thumb-operated manual shift mode mounted on the gear shifter. All-wheel drive is available as an option, but this model was just a front-wheel drive offering which probably helped improve overall fuel economy. Despite its size and 4,780-pound curb weight, the Buick Enclave gets respectable EPA fuel economy estimates of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
While the Enclave feels like a big, top-heavy vehicle (which it is), it exhibits a surprisingly smooth and luxurious ride unlike some of the big, top-heavy luxury SUVs in competes against. The Enclave manages its smooth ride from an independent suspension setup that is attached to an isolated front cradle and rear sub-frame rather than using intricate, advanced technologies such as GM's Magnetic Ride Control. In addition to its suspension setup, the Buick Enclave also features a design that provides added stability and maximizes occupant comfort with a 119-inch wheelbase and a 79-inch overall width. All of these components are instantly noticeable and appreciated on a long interstate drive where the Enclave floats down the road instead of rough and bouncy ride exhibited from some of the body-on-frame luxury SUVs.
To complement the spacious cargo capacity of the interior, the Enclave's powertrain also provides for plenty of towing ability. With the optional ($455) trailering package, the Buick Enclave has a 4,500-pound towing capacity.
2010 Buick Enclave Safety
Similar to the rest of its design, the Buick Enclave is also a solid performer when it comes to safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Enclave a full set of five-star ratings for frontal- and side-impact protection, and the common four-star rollover rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Enclave equally safe ratings with Good ratings for frontal-, side- and rear-impact protection. Standard safety features for all 2010 Buick Enclave models include six airbags, daytime running lights, four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, tire pressure monitoring system, traction control, StabiliTrak stability control system and, of course, GM's OnStar system the features Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance and Remote Door Unlock.
When looking for a spacious, luxurious and stylish crossover these days, it would be hard not to consider the 2010 Buick Enclave. As GM's top-of-the-line offering of the full-size Lambda crossover family, the Buick Enclave would make a great vehicle for a variety of buyers including minivan shoppers looking for a little more luxury and crossover buyers looking for a seven-passenger interior that can actually seat seven adults. Not only does the Enclave help give younger buyers a reason to venture into Buick showrooms, it also helped put the seemingly lost division of GM in a position to better compete against big-name luxury brands such as Acura, Lexus and Volvo.