The Buick Enclave is like the hot mom in the subdivision, the Mary-Louise Parker of crossover vehicles, if you will. It's a significant step up for Buick, a brand most fondly cherished by teary-eyed grandparents recalling the good old times in their 1953 Skylarks. Well, happy days are here again. The Enclave leads Buick out of its Greatest Generation grotto while still incorporating classic Buick notes like portholes on the hood and the "dollar grin" waterfall chrome grille.
But the most compelling aspect of the Enclave is the interior. For starters, this seven-seater's got a lot of acreage. Flattening both of the back rows opens up 115 cubic feet of cargo space. That's enough room to fit two full-size refrigerators, should the need arise. You'll find upscale touches like the sleek analog clock and mahogany-trimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel. It's also a quiet space, thanks to a number of sound-reduction technologies, such as an acoustic-laminated windshield and plenty of sound-absorbing foam, which do a great job of sealing out the outside.
Of course, the noise-reduction system can't do anything about the racket coming from inside the vehicle. If you often find yourself chauffeuring around fussy passengers (be they 5-year-olds or visiting clients), it might be wise to pony up the extra $2,000 or so for the optional entertainment package. That buys you an eight-inch touchscreen that flips down from the ceiling, two sets of wireless headphones, a 10-speaker Bose surround sound system, and a few minutes of being able to hear yourself think.
$32,055; $36,260 as tested
3.6-liter 275-hp V-6 engine; 251 pound-feet of torque; 16/24 mpg
Besides the slick entertainment package, the Enclave offers other handy options like a rearview camera and heated mirrors and washer fluid. Plus, there's an elevated footrest for your left foot, a.k.a. "dead pedal," which is, according to Buick, perfect for drivers wearing high-heeled shoes. I can't attest to that, but it provided fine relief for my Chuck Taylors.
The powertrain gets you where you need to go, but the Enclave has more class than sass. It could do with a V-8 engine; there's speculation this might be offered at a later date.
"The Enclave gets high scores for a well-designed comfortable interior that's not too cluttered," says Trisha Hessinger, host of Car Care & Repair on the DIY Network.