Yes Virginia, That’s a Buick in Our Driveway
By Joe Tralongo
If we could travel five years back in time and eavesdrop on a group of gay men or women talking about cars, it’s likely the Buick name would never reach our ears. Fast forward to 2007 and those same men and women are now settling down, raising families and rearranging their priorities. They need a manageable, fuel efficient and safe vehicle with abundant interior space, but they refuse to sacrifice style, sensibility and intelligent design. Enter the eight-passenger Buick Enclave, a brand new crossover SUV with the power to tug at the automotive heart-strings of style-conscious gay America.
Upon first viewing the Enclave, one can’t help but notice the artful blend of the new with the old. Curvaceous lines flow seamlessly onto bulging fenders whose sharp-creases carryover with precision alignment from fender to door. Buick’s trademark side vents are artfully incorporated into the hood’s outer edge, while chrome accents are applied conservatively to the front bumper, door handles and window surrounds. Examine the exterior in close detail and one discovers a level of fit and finish once only associated with the Acura or Lexus brands.
The Enclave’s interior materials, with their rich colors and textures, artful sew patterns on the seats and part Art Deco and part 21st century modern dashboard design are unlike anything I’ve seen in a recent GM product,. The principal controls for audio, heating and navigation are easy to understand and operate, and at night soft lighting fills the cabin upon entry and slowly fades to black once the last door is closed. Soothing blue backlighting illuminates the dash and door panel switches, as well as the rear console controls for temperature and audio. Heated seats, three-zone automatic air conditioning and a second-row center console are expected in this class, but little touches such as a driver’s dead pedal designed to accommodate the heel of a woman’s shoe expose the minute details sweated by the Enclave’s design team.
Similar in size to the Acura MDX, the Enclave possesses a spacious and inviting interior. The first and second rows are fitted with contoured captain’s chair seating (a three-passenger 60/40 second-row bench seat can be substituted) covered in perforated leather on CXL models and cloth on the base CX. Unlike the MDX, the Enclave’s third-row seat can comfortably accommodates two six-foot adults and the clever slide and fold second-row seats provide easy access. When not in use, the Enclave’s third-row seat folds flush to create a vast cargo hold with a wide, flat floor.
On the road, the Enclave scores high in three vital areas: Performance, handling and interior sound levels. Extensive use of sound deadening materials creates a cabin so hushed my second row passenger and I were able to hold a normal conversation with utter clarity while cruising at 75 mph. Reaching 75 mph was accomplished quickly thanks to a powerful 276-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine and smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Besides providing impressive acceleration, this mechanical duo, rated at 16-city/ 24-highway on front-drive models and 16-city/22-highway on all-wheel drive models, is responsible for the Enclave’s frugal fuel use. At first glance 24 mpg may not seem like much until you begin comparing the mileage of other eight-passenger SUVs which barely clear the low teens. Lastly, the Enclave handles twists and turns far better than any truck-based SUV to date. Body roll and lean are kept to a minimum, the ride is luxury car smooth and the steering response feels as quick and precise as similar jaunts in the Mazda CX-7 and Acura MDX.
The Buick name brings with it a plethora of standard and optional equipment, allowing drivers to add such features as DVD navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, Bose 5.1 surround sound audio, second-row skylight sunroof and remote start. Safety features such as front side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags covering all three rows come standard on every Enclave, as do GM’s StabiliTrak roll stability control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, OnStar Turn-by-Turn navigation guidance (a particularly nice technology for those who hate technology) and traction control.
Buick is a gay-friendly company.
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