When I was young, I bought some of those x-ray glasses out of the back of a magazine. Although my parents tried to warn me, I insisted that they would work, plus they looked really cool. After weeks of waiting, checking the mail every day when I got home from school, the package finally showed up. I rushed to my room and ripped open the box throwing all the packing all over my room. As I pulled the glasses out and put them on my face, I felt an immediate sense of dissatisfaction. I ran around the house looking at everything I could thinking they have to work, yet they wouldn't look through a thing. Not only did they not work as advertised, they were also cheaply made and broke within the first few days of having them. It has been a long time since I've felt this kind of dissatisfaction, that is until this week.
This week, we took delivery of the all new 2010 Buick Enclave CXL-2 AWD. So I know what your thinking, “How can you compare a seven-passenger SUV to x-ray glasses?” Well, we'll start out with the initial excitement and looks of the car. Last week, we drove the new 2010 Equinox and loved it. We have also driven the Acadia and loved that as well. The Enclave is built on the same platform as the Acadia, but the Enclave is the most expensive vehicle that GM builds on that platform. So forgive us for thinking that we get the great interior and gadgets from the 2010 Equinox, but more luxuries, and the great practicality and ride of the Acadia for a seven-passenger SUV.
The looks of this big SUV are right in line with what Buick needs to do to attract more buyers and keep the brand alive. Along with the new LaCrosse and the upcoming Regal, Buick seems to be doing a fantastic job in the design department. The curvy and swoopy lines of the Enclave almost make it look like a smaller crossover than it really is. The optional 20 in wheels that we had on our test car really fill the wheel wells and give this car a great, big stance. From the stylized headlights and the waterfall grill to the aggressive arches and taillights in the rear, it is apparent that this is a beautiful car. As far as SUV's go, we got more looks in this thing going to the grocery store or stopping at the gas station than any others.
Now that we have taken care of the looks, on to the interior. Here in the interior of the car is really where all my gripes about this car begin. Keep in mind our test car bleeds your wallet for a total of $49,655 (including destination charge). When you first look at the interior of this car, you dont get an overwhelming sensation of cheapness. No, it takes a few times stopped at stoplights and really feeling the materials used and focusing on the clutter and disarray encompassed in the dash. The first thing that bugged me was the technology in this car. Yes, it has the standard slew of interior tid-bits; including navigation, XM radio, rear DVD entertainment system, OnStar, rear audio controls, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats, bluetooth connectivity, and steering wheel mounted controls. With all these features, how could we complain about the technology within the Enclave? Simple, it's all old technology, at least compared to the significantly cheaper Equinox we drove just the week before. The technology in this $50k car is the same old stuff you would expect to find in a 2007 Equinox, not a new luxurious and beautifully designed SUV.
Okay so the technology is a bit old, and that could be forgiven by most drivers seeing as how it all still works, but what about those materials and clutter? First off, the seats look good and in our test vehicle were a tan leather. They looked fat and comfortable, and although it wasn't like sitting on rocks, they just were not as comfortable and soft as we would have liked. The headrests, on the other hand, were hard as rocks. The top of the dash was made of what looks like a decent soft touch material, but wasn't. Under that, you had a light woodgrain – plasticky – material, and if you know me, I'm not a fan of cheap looking woodgrain in luxury cars. Beneath the woodgrain, you have a plastic material made to look like brushed aluminum and in between both is a hard black plastic material and the analog clock with a plastic chrome strip around it. Under those is a big slab of hard black plastic that encompassed the infotainment system, which I can attest to the fact that it doesn't hold up well to a few Texas summers before it starts warping. Then you have another, clear plastic, material that covers the gear selection on the shifter. This was probably the cheapest feeling material in the entire car. Move over to the steering wheel and you find leather wrapped grips with woodgrain along the top and bottom, although this woodgrain doesn't match the woodgrain on the dash. Moving to the rear of the seven-passenger SUV, you get a fantastic look at the uncarpeted floor; looking at, instead, the area where the seats roll forward and backward.
Space in the Enclave is nothing to thumb your nose at. This is a true seven-passenger SUV, unlike some stretched SUV's that only small children could fit in the rear two seats. Although all this space comes at a price; weight. Although you get the bigger 3.6 liter v6, it still feels underpowered when you are trying to merge onto the highway. The fuel economy ratings for the vehicle is set at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, although with mostly highway driving we struggled to climb over 17 mpg average.
I'll continue to say that this is one of the best looking big SUV's out today. And comparing it to a pair of x-ray glasses might be unfair because yes, the Enclave works. I just dont think it works as a $50k luxury SUV. I think Buick, and GM in general, is moving in the right direction with style. They are making cars that people are not just okay with, but eager to be seen in everyday. Where I still see GM struggling though, is interior quality and overall ride. They have made great advancements in the quality of their interior with the Equinox and the Camaro, but they need to keep that in the forefront when trying to build a luxury vehicle. It really felt like they spent all their time designing the outside and forgot the interior. Although the car did disappoint, it wouldn't take much to really bring this SUV to where it needs to be. All I can say for now is that if you need a good seven passenger SUV that has good looks and is a good price, pick up a GMC Acadia and save yourself about ten grand.
Stats as Tested:
2010 Buick Enclave CXL-2 AWD
- Exterior: Cocoa Metallic
- Interior: Cashmere W/Cocoa Accentes
- 3.6 liter SIDI V6
- 288 Horsepower @ 6300 RPM
- 270 lb.-ft of torque @ 3400 RPM
- 6-Speed Auto Transmission
- Curb Weight 4780 lbs.
- 20” Chrome-Clad Aluminum Wheels
- Power Sunroof with 2nd Row Skylight
- $49,655.00 as tested price