Buick Enclave Performance
The 2008 Buick Enclave, according to reviewers, is a smooth and fun-to-drive SUV. Edmunds says, "The Enclave glides around town as quiet and smooth as Buick would have you believe it is." The most common complaint is that its significant curb weight sometimes takes its toll on acceleration. For example, Motor Trend finds that the Enclave "moves okay," but thinks "it's too heavy for the 275-horse, 3.6-liter variable-valve timing V6 under the hood." That V6 is the only available engine.
Overall, however, reviewers are pleased with the Enclave's performance. Car and Driver claims, "The ride is surprisingly dynamic, with little body roll even on some winding, shoulderless rural asphalt." Other reviewers are similarly impressed with how the "crossover" -- that is, an SUV built on a car's underpinning -- comports itself. "We found body roll to be well controlled with little or no dive under braking," writes AutoWeek. "Taut handling doesn't come at the expense of ride quality; the ride is smooth, and this crossover responds well to steering input through the turns."
Acceleration and Power
The Enclave, reviewers agree, has a powerful engine. There is debate, however, about whether that power is enough for its significant weight -- nearly 5,000 pounds. An Enclave with optional all-wheel drive weighs even more. Pushing this weight around is a 3.6-liter V6 that creates 275 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. "While the 275-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 has a heavy load to carry, the Enclave isn't slow," decides Edmunds. "More important, the Enclave feels plenty quick." New Car Test Drive agrees, asserting, "The Buick Enclave offers brisk acceleration performance." AutoWeek, on the other hand, cites "somewhat lazy acceleration," and attributes this to "sluggish downshifts, likely engineered to maximize fuel economy." The resulting EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg in the city, and either 24 or 22 mpg on the highway, depending on whether it's equipped with four-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The Road and Track finds, "The engine provides power aplenty," and likes "the tap shift feature on the 6-speed allows you to select and hold a gear on hilly stretches or provide manual sequential shifting if you're feeling in a sporty mood." In general, the transmission is found to be adequate, but Car and Driver does have one minor complaint: "We detected some transmission hesitancy accelerating up a grade, which would only be exaggerated if all eight possible seats had lumpy butts in them, adding to the 5,000-pound curb weight."calls the engine "smooth and sophisticated, on par with any manufacturer's V-6," noting, "Eventually, we'll likely see a V-8 option, but for now, the V-6 works well."
Handling and Braking
Reviewers like the Enclave's handling. The Motor Trend finds the ride, "isolated" and "comfortable," but does report "moderate roll." New Car Test Drive argues the suspension "is far more sophisticated, far sharper in handling and far more compliant and comfortable than what we've come to expect from this class of vehicles." Many reviewers agree. "The softly tuned suspension and the tall tire sidewalls smother all but the biggest bumps," says Edmunds.reports, "On the road, the Enclave is stable and sure-footed, with no SUV tipsiness."
The steering is hydraulic power-assisted and largely praised. Road and Track deems it "spot-on, neither too heavy or light," and further explains, "it provides consistent feedback, great on-center feel and ease in parking maneuvers." Motor Trend, while complaining of poor feedback, concedes, "Precision is decent, though, requiring few steering corrections." The Enclave is available with either front- or all-wheel-drive. New Car Test Drive counsels, "We think the all-wheel drive is well worth the extra money," explaining, "The all-wheel-drive system operates automatically, full-time all the time, adjusting to road speed, throttle position and the relative speeds of each of the four tires, wet or dry."