by Joe LaMuraglia
Monday, August 25, 2008 – With fuel prices fluctuating like Oprah’s weight and news channels reporting consumers running to economy cars like Lemmings jumping of a cliff, you may think that the SUV is dead. It is true, sales of full-size SUVs and trucks have fallen drastically but there are many of you out there that NEED a big vehicle whether for passenger or cargo hauling needs. Have you ever tried to get 4 kids and their friend into a hatchback? What about going to Costco for your brood in a Prius? It just doesn’t work. Some situations simply require something bigger.
One such scenario is a move or relocation. I’m in the middle of doing just that and will be testing out a 2008 Buick Enclave CXL by schlepping my stuff from Nashville to New Jersey. The title of this post is “Emigrating in an Enclave”. Technically, emigrating involves moving from one distinct culture to another. If you’ve ever been to Nashville and Northern New Jersey, you’ll agree this qualifies.
We pack up the Enclave tonight and the boyfriend is convinced that I won’t be able to get all my stuff into the back. I’m confident that the Buick can handle it all and will deliver me back to the land of the Yankees (and the instigators of the “War of Northern Agression!” according to the locals here in TN) in quiet comfort. Look for updates from the road tomorrow and Wednesday of this week.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 – Greetings from the Pennsylvania turnpike. I’m under two hours from my destination and stopped for a Starbucks just north of Philadelphia. It is so gorgeous outside that I thought I’d relax and update the entry while enjoying the flowers and my coffee.
We packed the Enclave on Monday night and despite my efforts to be be prepared for the misery, it really stunk. It wasn’t the fault of the Enclave but rather my allergy to packing and moving. The big Buick surprised us both with the amount of my stuff it swallowed. With both rows of seats folded down, it offers a generous 116 cubic feet of space and we used every inch!
For a reference point, that is 7 cubic feet more than a Chevrolet Tahoe with its seats folded down. Impressive.
I left yesterday morning early from Nashville and thanks to tropical storm Fay, I spent the next 8 hours drudging through torrential downpours. The Enclave felt very solid and confident in the rain. I’m not sure if it was the AWD on the CXL we drove or the hefty 4,985 curb weight plus cargo that made it feel so planted. Either way, we plowed our way forward with confidence.
One of the selling points for the new crossover SUVs from GM (Enclave, GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and the new Chevy Traverse) is best-in-class fuel economy. Our Buick Enclave CXL with AWD is rated at 22 MPG on the highway but on the first leg of the trip I was only able to get 18 MPG. I would have attributed that to the extra weight but then the second and third tanks delivered 20.1 MPG according to the trip computer. It must have been the mountain driving and the all the rain that killed the MPG. I could see an Enclave with a few passengers and good weather achieving 22 MPG with a light foot.
The ride has been incredibly comfortable and even with the Enclave packed to the gills, the visibility with the large mirrors is good. My only complaint thus far has been the transmission. It is a 6-speed that likes to get into the highest gear as quickly as possible and is then hesitant to kick down smoothly. I got around that by shifting it manually but people might find it annoying. Rumor has it the 2009 Enclave will have a more powerful engine that may remedy the issue.
Off to finish the trek. Next step is to unpack and I hate that almost as much as packing!
Thursday, August 28, 2008 – I made it to Northern NJ yesterday afternoon and spent the better part of the afternoon schlepping my crap out of the Enclave. Did I mention how cavernous the back of that thing is? There are a few items left that will have to wait until the boyfriend arrives tonight to unload. In the meantime, I’ve been running errands in the Enclave and I am impressed. For such a large vehicle, it drives very “small” and now that I can see out of the rear, the visibility is quite good. The Buick “quiet tuning” does its job and if you choose to keep your windows closed, it is one of the quietest vehicles on the road.
I’m heading up to CT tomorrow to see my sister and will put it to the test with her 4 ankle biters…I mean children. More to come.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 – I’m happy to report that the Enclave passed the niece and nephews test with flying colors. They climbed right in, grabbed the wireless headphones for the optional rear entertainment system and settled down for a ride to the local pond and back. We had a total of 6 people with an even ratio of adults to kids and the Enclave seemed very much at home. The roads in Ridgefield, CT are narrow, and undulate and weave their way through the countryside. The Enclave handled the curves with ease and delivered its cargo on both ends of the trip in comfort.
While the munchkins were impressed, their mother wasn’t sold 100%. She liked the ride, the power and the functionality of the interior but wasn’t a fan of the styling. She said it reminded her of our Uncle Ray’s Buicks (he only ever drove Buick LeSabres). Keep in mind that this is a mother of 4 that drives a 2001 VW Eurovan. She likes funky styling and pure utility. The Buick doesn’t deliver on either. She claims the rear cargo room isn’t big enough for her boys’ 3 hockey bags. For that she’ll most likely have to go for a Suburban.
While my sister wasn’t on the cheerleading squad for the Enclave, it does seem to garner a lot of stares at stoplights and in parking lots. It is very distinctive looking and provides a competitive solution for those of you that need passenger and cargo capacity in a luxury package.
Enjoy the photos below courtesy of Buick.
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