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2012 Buick Enclave Road Test Review - Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 SUV Buyer's Guide

2012 Buick Enclave Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 SUV Buyer's Guide - Road & Travel's Top 10 Picks

Acura RDX

Honda Pilot

Buick Enclave

Hyundai Veracruz

Ford Explorer

Subaru Tribeca

How often does a vehicle have a hush factor to brag about? Take some top dollar luxury vehicles and that's a known requisite. It's what's dictated by a breathtaking price tag, a snob appeal selectivity, and the rarified atmosphere where it resides. Transfer those bragging rights to a more populist, premium vehicle and you have the 2012 Buick Enclave sport utility vehicle.

For anyone familiar with Buick, that hush quality is nothing new. It’s been a trait of GM's elite import fighter line for a long time. With Enclave launched to lure more American buyers, it's one of those delicious traits that can make driving pampering and fun at the same time. Perhaps you could consider the experience roughing it light.

After all, this is a sport utility vehicle with serious road owning credentials thanks to advanced technology, although one shouldn't plan on heavy duty off-roading adventures as one of them. That signature “hush” quality while driving comes from engineering called “quiet tuning” that prevents noise and harshness from entering the cabin.

Alphabet soup goes away with Enclave for 2012. CX and CXL trims have been eliminated, replaced with equipment packages that seem just a bit more confusing. They are: 1SB (Enclave Base), 1SD (Convenience), 1SL (Leather) and 1SN (Premium). To take best advantage of the noise muted interior, one can add the Bose premium audio system to the 1SB, 1SD and 1SL packages. It comes standard with the Premium equipment group package. Buick cites well-executed premium soft touch, low gloss interior materials that complement the flexible interior space. It lists storage space comparable to a large sedan even with three rows of seating in place that can accommodate as many as eight. Second row seating slides forward for easier access to the third row.

Available features abound in the 2012 Enclave such as leather, cooled seats, rear seat DVD and navigation system. Tech conscious drivers should appreciate the remote start, rear park assist, power liftgate and the rear vision camera standard with 1SD, 1SL and 1SN packages. Standard halogen fog lamps have projector technology.

Inside there's a tilt and telescoping steering column. Among premium touches, is a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mahogany wood inserts and wheel mounted controls. Solar ray blocking tinted glass is in rear side and liftgate windows.

Outside, the Enclave bears a handsome, contemporary appearance, closely akin to its cousin Chevy Traverse. It retains the signature Buick waterfall grille tucked between high intensity xenon projector headlamps that lend a more formal appearance to the overall look. Body color side view mirrors for 2012 are heated and power adjustable and have integrated turn signal indicators. Dual exhausts are bright chrome tipped as are luggage rack side rails.

Under hood is GM's powerful 288-HP, 3.6-liter direct injected V-6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission designed to improve fuel economy. Variable effort power-assisted steering (rack and pinion) benefits from Enclave's “premium ride” 4-wheel independent suspension. Available, full-time all-wheel drive is an intelligent system that adjusts functions to accommodate road conditions 

Enclave's 2012 mileage is among the best for an eight-passenger sport utility, rated at 17/24 with front wheel drive and 16/22 with all-wheel drive using regular fuel. Enclave gains an extra seat when the second row is a bench rather than captain's chairs. For those with towing needs, the Enclave can trailer as much as 2,000 lbs.

Enclave safety is enhanced with GM's StabiliTrak stability control with roll over mitigation. It sports a full complement of air bags including side curtains for all rows with passenger sensing and roll over protection. Added safety for 2012 comes from a pedal override system that reduces engine power if the brake and accelerator pedals are depressed at the same time. Hill hold braking assist helps prevent sliding on steep hills if the brake pedal is released.

Enclave also aggressively battles the threat of stolen cars with a deterrent system that can immobilize the vehicle and cause it to stop during a theft.

Positioned against sport utility vehicles from Audi, Volvo, Lexus and Acura, Enclave benefits from a competitive premium segment price, with front drive model starting at $37,325 before options.

Just a peek into the future. Enclave gets a freshening for the upcoming 2013 model. We'll keep you updated.

For more info on Buick brands, click here.