By KBB.com Editors
Over the years Buick has earned a reputation as a builder of cars that are long on comfort, if short on excitement. It is a little surprising, then, to encounter the Buick Enclave, a family-friendly eight-passenger crossover SUV that proves Buick can build an exciting vehicle. The Enclave is Buick's entry into the growing luxury SUV category and competes with well-established offerings from Lexus, Acura, BMW and Volvo. With eye-catching exterior styling, a highly usable interior and a remarkably quiet cabin the Buick Enclave has what it takes to be a viable competitor in this hot segment.You'll Like This Car If...
If you appreciate the refinement of a luxury car but also need the flexibility of a crossover SUV, we think you'll like the 2008 Buick Enclave. It offers the image of owning a luxury vehicle, yet at a more affordable price than many of its competitors.You May Not Like This Car If...
You may not like the 2008 Buick Enclave if you plan to venture far from paved roads. All-wheel-drive is offered for the Enclave but it is engineered to enhance traction in the more realistic conditions of wet or snowy roads and is not intended for serious off-roading.What's New for 2008
The Buick Enclave shares its basic structure with its siblings the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook, but is aimed at the more demanding luxury buyer. Buick hopes the Enclave can succeed in the luxury SUV segment where its previous entries have had only marginal success.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2008 Buick Enclave is made to carry up to eight passengers in relaxed comfort and it does so with ease. At the same time it also manages to deliver engaging, even fun driving dynamics. The steering is light but firms up a bit at speed to give the Enclave a confident feel. The V6 engine provides good if not scorching acceleration and should be up to the task of hauling a full load of cargo or passengers. At cruising speeds Buick's attention to noise reduction pays off with very little wind, road or engine noise intruding into the cabin.Favorite Features
Getting to the rear-most seats in many vehicles can be a hassle. Not so in the Enclave, where the cleverly designed second-row seats, with flip-up cushions and the capability to slide far forward, provide a wide flat space to enter the third-row seating area.
Buick's QuietTuning method of in-vehicle noise reduction may seem like marketing hype, but it has to be experienced to be appreciated. At higher speeds the interior remains delightfully calm and free of the sounds that fatigue occupants on long drives.
The 2008 Buick Enclave's interior features a curvaceous dash design accented by camphor burl wood appliques and chrome trim. High-quality materials, a simple, logical layout and an impressively low level of interior noise make for an extremely inviting cabin. The Enclave is offered in both seven- and eight-passenger versions with slide-and-fold second-row seats that make getting to the third row extremely easy. Cargo space behind the third row is good and, with the second and third rows folded, the Enclave offers a cavernous, flat load area.Exterior
As one of the few vehicles to make it from concept to production without having its exterior styling diluted, the 2008 Buick Enclave offers a bolder appearance than many crossover SUVs. While large enough to accommodate eight passengers, the Enclave's artful body lines give it the look of a much smaller vehicle. The face of the Enclave features a "waterfall" grille, modern-looking portholes above the fenders and intricately detailed almond-shaped head lamps. Adding some flash to its svelte body are standard 18-inch wheels, chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets and chrome roof rails.Notable Standard Equipment
There are two trims offered for the 2008 Buick Enclave. The standard equipment list for the base CX trim includes 18-inch wheels, a power liftgate, power front seats and tri-zone automatic climate control. Stepping up to the CXL adds heated power adjustable front seats, leather seating surfaces and stylish 19-inch aluminum wheels. Standard safety features on all Enclaves include anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, front air bags, front-seat-mounted air bags and three-row side curtain airbags that stay inflated longer in the event of a vehicle rollover.Notable Optional Equipment
Many of the optional features available for the 2008 Buick Enclave are grouped into packages. Included in the Driver Confidence package are remote vehicle engine start, a heated windshield washer fluid reservoir and rear parking sensors. Available only for the CXL trim is the Luxury Package that adds power folding side mirrors, adaptive headlamps and a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel. Also available are a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a rear-facing camera, eight-passenger seating, a navigation system and a sunroof.Under the Hood
Powering the 2008 Buick Enclave is a strong 3.6-liter V6. It delivers energetic performance and excellent fuel economy with the help of modern technologies like variable valve timing and an electronic throttle. The V6 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A wide spread of gear ratios helps get the most out of the engine while maximizing efficiency. We did, however, notice some delayed reactions from the transmission and the occasional rough shift. An optional all-wheel-drive system is also available which requires no driver intervention and automatically distributes torque between the front and rear wheels.
275 horsepower at 6600 rpm
251 lb.-ft. of torque at 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 FWD, 16/22 AWD
Among the Buick Enclave's competitors are the Lexus RX350, BMW X5, Volvo XC90 and Acura MDX. With a starting price around $33,000 and a fully loaded price of nearly $46,000, the Enclave is a relative bargain in the luxury crossover SUV category. While the less-expensive Enclave doesn't offer a V8 engine like the X5 and XC90, it does offer seating for eight, more than any of its competitors. To compare the actual transaction prices that consumers are paying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. The price advantage offered by the Buick Enclave is somewhat offset by residual values that are expected to fall well below those of its competitors.