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  • 2009 Buick Enclave CX

    Posted on March 28th, 2009 ninarussin

    Not your father’s Buick (and that’s a good  thing)

    By Nina Russin

    2009 Buick Enclave

    2009 Buick Enclave

    When I was a kid, the coolest car on the block was a  Buick Wildcat that one of the neighbors owned. Its Nailhead V-8 engine roared like a tiger; the air filter was the size of a landing strip. When I looked under the hood of that car, I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license.

    As time passed, Buick lost its path: sporty Invictas gave way to milk toast sedans. As a result, the circle of Buick loyalists aged and shrank: a subject of justifiable concern to company execs. Buick needed a clean sheet of paper. The Enclave cross-utility vehicle is just that.

    With seating for up to eight passengers, the Buick Enclave is an affordable cross-utility vehicle for young families on the go. Available with either front or all-wheel drive, the Enclave has the features active buyers look for: a V-6 engine with good gas mileage, and a versatile interior.

    Available all-wheel drive improves the Enclave’s all-weather performance. Towing capacity is 4500 pounds.

    Standard OnStar automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel when the airbags deploy. Other standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability control, front, side and side curtain airbags.

    While the Enclave’s base price of $34,130 puts it in our luxury class, the car is less expensive than other vehicles in its competitive segment. GM’s powertrain warranty covers any repairs due to manufacturing up to 100,000 miles.

    Something old, something new

    Stylists pay homage to classics such as the Buick Roadmaster with the Enclave’s toothy chrome grille. Inside, an analogue clock flanked by air vents resembles an old-fashioned radio. Since the Enclave is built on a shared platform (GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook),  those flourishes give it some brand identity.

    Buyers can upgrade from the base eighteen-inch wheels to twenty-inch rims: a dealer-installed option. While bigger wheels dress up the exterior, the standard ones are large enough to give the Enclave good steering response at speed.

    A direct-injection V6 engine saves fuel by delivering gas directly into the combustion chambers rather than through the valves. The design reduces the amount of gas that gets caught in quench areas: cold spots that prevent it from combusting. Ninety percent of the engine’s peak torque comes on at 2500 rpm: a long flat torque curve improves towing performance.

    A transversely-mounted six-speed automatic transmission has large overdrive gears for high-speed cruising. The driver can manually choose gears using buttons on the shift lever knob.

    GM engineers fixed a long-standing brake performance problem in the current truck line-up. The four-wheel discs on the Enclave don’t have the mushy pedal-feel of former models. They stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.

    A new option package allows buyers to purchase a rearview camera without the expensive navigation system. The camera display appears on the left side of the rearview mirror when the driver shifts into reverse. The option, which costs a fraction of comparable systems with navigation, is a great safety feature for parents with small children.

    Car-like ride and handling

    Despite its size, the Enclave handles much like a passenger sedan. The 288-horsepower engine in the CX test car has plenty of power for merging into highway traffic and passing other vehicles at speed.

    GM’s hydra-matic transmissions do an excellent job of adjusting shift logic for road conditions. They don’t hunt excessively on hills, or downshift hard at wide open throttle. The transverse transmission mounting eliminates a floor tunnel that could cut into passenger legroom.

    Engineers designed the fully independent suspension to be unobtrusive as well. The rear suspension is a linked H-arm design: compact enough to fit below the load floor and under-floor cargo bay.  A standard front stabilizer bar keeps the chassis from rolling excessively in the corners.

    Steering is a bit on the soft side, but responsive enough at speed to maintain good handling. The Enclave’s turning radius is just over 40 feet.

    The Enclave has a tall beltline and narrow greenhouse: a style almost universal in crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. It limits visibility and makes the body, in this writer’s opinion, look heavy. Fortunately the side mirrors minimize blind spots at the back corners. Thick D pillars result in an unusually small rear window.

    Standard high-intensity discharge headlamps provide a bright beam of light for night driving. Buyers can add optional adaptive headlamps that swivel when the driver corners.

    Versatile interior

    Buick Enclave Interior

    Buick Enclave Interior

    The test car comes with cloth upholstery. Bench seats in lieu of captain’s chairs add room for two passengers and take $495 off the price tag. Both second and third-row seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern.

    All four doors have map and bottle holders. Front-row passengers have access to two additional cupholders in the center console, as well as a change-holder and small storage bin. There is enclosed storage in the glovebox and center console bin.

    The armrest slides fore and aft to adjust to drivers of various sizes. A standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel contains redundant audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls.

    An optional power sunroof with second-row skylight ($1400) brings extra daylight into the car: a nice addition considering its narrow windows. The rearview camera is part of an option package that also adds audible warnings, remote start, and a heated windshield ($970). Overhead reading lamps light up all three rows at night.

    Grab handles on the passenger-side A pillar and both B pillars ease access and egress. A lever on the second-row seatbacks collapses the cushions and slides the seats forward to ease access for third-row passengers. I was surprised at the amount of legroom in the third-row seats.

    Standard tri-zone climate control keeps all of the passengers comfortable. Four ceiling vents circulate air throughout the cabin.

    The standard audio system includes an AM/FM/CD player with an auxiliary audio jack. Standard satellite radio with three months of free service appeals to buyers who spend lots of time in the road.

    Twelve-volt power points allow first and second-row passengers to plug in portable electronic devices. There is an additional power point next to the liftgate for use in the cargo area.

    Spacious cargo area

    Both second and third-row seats are easy to fold flat using levers on the seatbacks. It isn’t necessary to remove the seat cushions or headrests, making the Enclave bicycle friendly. Its standard power liftgate is a great feature for loading in the weekly groceries.

    An under-floor storage area conceals cargo from prying eyes. All models come with standard chrome roof rails.

    Standard safety

    Front, side and side curtain airbags are standard on all grades, along with four-channel antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and OnStar. Buick builds the Enclave at its Lansing Delta assembly plant in  Lansing, Michigan.

    Likes: A versatile cross-utility vehicle with seating for up to eight passengers, a configurable cargo area and a high level of comfort and convenience features. Standard OnStar automatically notifies police and medical personnel in the event of an accident.

    Dislikes: Narrow greenhouse and small rear window limit visibility.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Buick
    Model: Enclave CX FWD
    Year: 2009
    Base price: $34,130
    Price as tested: $36,965
    Horsepower: 288 Hp @ 3600 rpm
    Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 3400 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: Yes
    Fuel economy: 17/24 mpg city/highway
    Comments: Base price does not include a $735 delivery charge.

     

    49 responses to “2009 Buick Enclave CX”

    1. as far as i feel is that 288 horse power is pretty less for this huge SUV and should have been approximately 400 hp or more. As the design goes with such curvy body and cute front grille the car needs some power work. Even being big and low on power the SUV has offered a good deal of performance in terms of mileage.

    2. As you know Robert, engineers always have to consider the relative benefits of horsepower and fuel economy. Although the Enclave is a fairly large crossover, they felt that the horsepower was adequate to deliver the performance they were looking for. and 288 horsepower is nothing to sneeze at. My 1994 Z28 Camaro had 275 horsepower, and it was pretty quick off the line. Thanks for writing in.

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