Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: March 8, 2016
Following in Cadillac’s footsteps, GM is attempting to revitalize the Buick brand and get rid of its image as the go-to car for the geriatric crowd. Being the bridging point between Cadillac and the rest of GM’s products when it comes to luxury, Buicks often gave buyers a touch of class without demanding a large asking price. At the time, their logic was undeniable. Their slogan “wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” was a statement many of their buyers agreed with.
I am sure you have seen Buick’s recent advertisements on television that depict younger folk driving Buicks to pick up friends, roll up to clubs with, and even use as a prom-mobile. The main theme of these ads consisted of onlookers asking “is that a Buick?” The Buick Enclave however, was unmistakably and undoubtedly, a Buick.
If you’re simply looking for a spacious vehicle that can haul up to eight people, it is imperative that you take a look at the Enclave. Compared to classmates like the Ford Explorer, the Enclave can fit an additional passenger and still feel like it is composed on the road. Leave the school busses for the school bus drivers.
But this just scrapes the surface of the Buick Enclave. Is there actually any potential beneath that Ebony Twilight Metallic paint job? If we were to look at sales records alone, last year, Buick sold over 62,000 Enclaves south of our border, and over 3,000 here in Canada. Clearly, even with its long run of 9 years of production, Buick has struck gold with this particular formula. However, the Enclave still drives and feels like it is in dire need of a refresh and as we have seen time and time again, the competition waits for no one.
Powered by the same 3.6-litre V6 motor we have come to love from GM, the Enclave sails smoothly at highway speeds, effortlessly chugging along with 288 horsepower and 270 lb-ft. of torque. The steering is light and numb of road feedback—giving drivers the illusion that the Enclave is lighter than it actually is. You know that there are wheels at the front of the Enclave, but you just cannot feel them.
It even fools you as to how fast you’re going thanks to the absence of road noise. Buick has gone to great lengths to improve the NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) ratings on this Enclave. Thanks to laminated glass, foam-filled roof pillars, thicker carpets, and other sound absorbing materials, the Enclave is like a library on wheels.
As I mentioned before, this Buick is large and heavy, even if it doesn’t drive like it. This SUV tips the scales at 2,233 kg. The V6 motor really has to work to lug all around all that weight, which means terrible fuel numbers are your fate. Further, only having 6-speeds when many GM products have moved to 8-speed units is disappointing, especially on an SUV of this size. I averaged 14.5 L/100km during my test week and I only carried three people at most. Imagine a fully loaded Enclave with 8 travelers and their luggage, you’d probably reach Lamborghini-like levels of thirst.
My biggest grievance with the Buick comes with its exterior appearance. The round curves accentuate the car’s plumpness, the non-functional hood vents are tacky, and the overloading of chrome really turns me off. No matter how much LED accenting you add on the front headlights or taillights the Enclave looks like it is still a decade behind in terms of styling.
The interior stays true to Buick’s old school take on luxury with a heavy mix of wood trim, leather, soft-touch plastics, chrome, and more chrome – and it’s starting to feel a bit dated. There isn’t even a push to start button, as to not confuse some of the old-timers. For 2016, the Enclave features a heated, wood-trimmed steering wheel that is standard giving another touch of elegance. The center-stack is topped off with a 6.5-inch touchscreen that houses all of your navigation and audio needs.
There was clearly an effort made to reduce the number of buttons on the center-stack, and it works flawlessly. The touch sensitive infotainment buttons were finicky at first, but you do get used to them. I was particularly impressed with the HVAC controls, they felt superb and high quality. The interior is crowned with an analog clock settled between two air vents. However, I wish the clock were angled differently so that I did not have to combat the sun every time I tried to get a glance at the hour.
Even with the small reservations I’ve made, the Enclave still does present some good value thanks to its road manners and silent cabin. The Enclave makes an appealing proposition for someone looking for a laid-back driving experience with no surprises or frills. But for an SUV that has essentially reached the end of its current lifecycle, I’d personally wait and see if the next generation (expected in 2017) has made improvements on the fuel economy, drivability, and exterior styling before I would plunge into a purchasing decision – our tester was spec’d out close to $60,000.
While some Buick models like the LaCrosse are stepping forward into the future by attracting a younger crowd, the Enclave as is still features the remnants of the dark days of GM. But give it a year or two. A new Enclave is surely in the horizon. In the mean time, this well-mannered variant will keep eight passengers perfectly isolated, comfortable and content on their journey home.
型号 Model: 2016 Buick Enclave AWD Premium
顏色 Paint Type: Ebony Twilight Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $55,760
試車售價 Price as Tested: $58,995
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,020
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,128 / 2,202 / 1,821
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,717
引擎 Engine: 3.6-litre V6 with VVT and Direct Injection
最大馬力 Horsepower: 288 hp @ 6,300 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T75 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 14.6 / 10.7 / 12.8
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 14.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P255/60R19