The 2008 Buick Enclave has been baking in the oven for a while. We first glimpsed what would become the Enclave in 2003 when General Motors showed us the Centieme Concept at that year's North American International Auto Show. Though highly stylized as a concept, the Centieme was somewhat of a sleeper hit that year. At last year's Detroit Auto Show (2006), GM debuted the Buick Enclave Concept. The production version you see here is essentially a clone of that year-old show car.
Follow the jump for our take on the production version of the Buick Enclave, as well as 80(!) high-resolution images and GM's officlal press release.
Tiger Woods drives Rick Wagoner on stage as Buick introduces the 2008 Enclave
Rick Wagoner, Steve Shannon and Tiger Woods Introduce 2008 Enclave
LIVE REACTION: While the basic shape reminds one of the Huyndai Santa Fe a bit more than would seem prudent, the execution and attention to detail on the display car were extraordinary. Perhaps even Lexus level, which seems appropriate. The front end is quite reminiscent of the LS, RX and GS in particular. It comes across as more station wagon (which we like) more than SUV, but it is a substantial vehicle. Buick did this vehicle right and the preview party was pretty good too, although a notch below what Ford was doing across town. Check that out over here.
So here's the skinny on the production version of the Enclave that you'll be able to buy sometime in mid- to late-2007 as a 2008 model. First off, it's powered by a 275-horsepower, 3.6-liter VVT V6 that's mated to Buick's first-ever six-speed automatic. Both are standard on the CX and uplevel CXL trims. Front- and all-wheel drive is available, which will spin either two or four of the Enclave's standard 19-inch rims (dubs are available as a dealer option).
The Enclave's lengthy 118.9-inch wheelbase can swallow either seven or eight(!) passengers. Those on board will find what appears to be a pretty tasty interior with a good dash design (except for the rounded panel above the center stack that houses two air outlets and a clock, which seems to harsh on the interior's mellow). Materials include plush leather, decent-looking wood trim, and what appears to be two tones of high-quality plastics. We'll wait until Wednesday when can get a butt in those seats and paw the dash before draw our conclusions.
The safety-conscious shopper will be pleased to know the Enclave features six standard airbags, anti-lock brakes all around, Stabilitrak to prevent rollovers and standard traction control to keep things moving on the slide.
Our preshow verdict: Buick will be much better off if the brand can spread some of the Enclave's magic across its entire lineup.
BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: The Enclave's 275-hp, 3.6-liter V6 is almost the most powerful V6 that GM has ever produced. It missed the top spot by one horsepower. That honor goes to the 1987 Buick GNX SFI Turbo, which was "officially" rated at 276 horsepower, though probably produced much, much more.
BUICK CENTIEME CONCEPT - 2003 DETROIT AUTO SHOW:
BUICK ENCLAVE CONCEPT - 2006 DETROIT AUTO SHOW:
ALL-NEW 2008 BUICK ENCLAVE REPRESENTS THE NEW FACE OF BUICK
LOS ANGELES – Tiger Woods, the world's top-ranked professional golfer and long-time Buick partner, teamed up with Buick to introduce media to the brand's newest vehicle: the all-new 2008 Enclave luxury crossover SUV, on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Enclave was unveiled at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena , one of the world's most prestigious art and design schools.
The Enclave is Buick's first luxury crossover SUV. It is purposely built on an all-new crossover architecture and motivated by one of GM's most powerful V-6 engines ever. The Enclave creates its own niche in the fast-growing crossover market by melding elegant interior and exterior design and a confident ride in a quiet, well-crafted roomy cabin capable of carrying up to eight passengers with space for gear. It arrives in dealer showrooms next summer.
"Enclave is the new face of Buick and everything we want in future Buicks," said General Manager Steve Shannon. "It's an absolutely stunning, high-quality crossover SUV that delivers all the product attributes that define the new Buick – a confident ride, relevant technologies, more luxury features, elegant design and a quiet, comfortable and well-crafted interior. These are the hallmark traits of future Buicks."
Enclave will be available in CX and CXL trim levels, with eight exterior and three interior colors, front-wheel or all-wheel drive, a new 275-horsepower V-6 powertrain featuring variable valve timing (VVT) and mated to Buick's first six-speed automatic transmission. The 3.6L V-6 VVT is a sophisticated dual-overhead camshaft engine based on GM's global V-6 architecture. It was jointly developed at GM technical centers in Australia , Germany , Sweden and North America . The engine uses full four-cam phasing, rapid data processing and torque-based engine management to optimize power, economy and emissions performance.
"The Enclave is just beautiful to look at and a sign of things to come from Buick", said Tiger Woods. "I'm really excited for Buick and the all-new Enclave."
A host of innovative features that are uncommon or unavailable in competitors' vehicles adds to the Enclave's standout status in the segment, including a second-row seat console that unfolds to contribute to a flat load floor when the seats are folded. Also, the armrest slides back and forth. The center console storage area is equipped with a pull-out tray. When removed, the tray reveals a deep space for storing a pair of 16-oz. bottles or other tall items. Enclave also features a power-operated liftgate, Smart Slide second-row seat feature and a DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system with one of the segment's largest display screens.
Peace of mind while maneuvering in the Enclave is enhanced with Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist and a rear back-up camera, which work integrally to provide not only a visual reference of objects directly behind the vehicle, but an audible warning of the objects' proximity. Displayed on the navigation system display screen, icons and audible chimes provide an easy-to-understand reference to items behind the vehicle. Enclave also is equipped with power-adjustable outside mirrors that automatically angle downward when the vehicle is in reverse, providing a view of the curb or parking lines. The mirrors can be programmed so that one, both or none of the mirrors provide this view.
The innovative and exclusive features mentioned above are only a few of Enclave's more than 45 standard and optional features. Highlights include:
- Rear back-up camera
- High-intensity discharge headlamps
- Articulating Headlights
- Power liftgate
- Automatic Grade Shift Logic
- Smart Slide second-row seat
- Voice-activated and touch-screen DVD navigation
- Second-row center console
- Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist
- Power tilt and telescoping steering wheel
- Power folding mirrors with integrated turn signal lights
- Heated windshield washer fluid
- Heated front leather seats
- Tiffany-style analog clock
- Bose 5.1 10-speaker surround sound system
- Rear-seat DVD entertainment system
- Factory-installed extended-range remote start
- Large sunroof and skylight
- XM Satellite Radio
- OnStar with Turn-By-Turn voice-activated navigation and more
Delivering on the promise of the concept
The production Enclave delivers on the promise of the concept vehicle that debuted at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January. The exterior design of the Enclave is a virtual twin of the concept version, while the interior retains the elegant design and craftsmanship that made the concept Enclave popular.
Buick's luxury crossover hints to legendary design cues such as a new waterfall black chrome grille – with a bold tri-shield emblem – and portholes. Enclave's grille represents the new face of Buick that will be shared across future product offerings. The portholes, which are similar in design to those on the new Lucerne sedan, form a distinct "V" shape as they flow out from the grille and into the hood.
Enclave sits on a 118.9-inch (3,021 mm) wheelbase and has a wide, confident stance, with the wheels pushed out to the corners. This creates a "wrapped" appearance between the body and the wheels, which enhances the sure-footed stance. Large, 18-inch flangeless wheels are standard on CX models; 19-inch machined wheels are standard on CXL, while chrome, seven-spoke, 19-inch wheels are available on CXL. Twenty-inch wheels are available though Buick Accessories.
Standard high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and three-dimensional taillamp housings spotlight the Enclave's craftsmanship and attention to detail. Uncommon in the crossover segment, Enclave's HID headlamps have one bulb for high and low beams. The Xenon HID headlamps are standard, and GM's Articulating Headlights are available. They turn with the direction of the front wheels, providing enhanced illumination around corners.
Interior like a private jet
Enclave's interior is designed as an extension of the exterior form with complementing curves and warm, inviting colors, as well as premium, soft-touch, low-gloss materials. The instrument panel and other interior elements have precise attention to fit, finish and flushness throughout.
Buick's exclusive QuietTuning engineering process reduces, blocks and absorbs unwanted noise from entering Enclave's cabin. Some noise-reducing components include an acoustic laminated windshield, laminated safety door glass, triple door seals, flat-blade windshield wipers, strategically placed sound deadening material in more than two dozen locations throughout the vehicle and outside rearview mirrors and tires designed to minimize noise. The result is a library-quiet interior that allows passengers seated in the third row to hear a conversation between first-row occupants.
When it comes to function and roominess, Enclave looks smaller on the outside but lives bigger inside. The vehicle can be configured for seven or eight passengers, with three rows of seats, and still have space for gear behind the third row. Enclave offers 18.9 cu. ft. (535.2 L) of cargo space behind the third-row seat when in the upright position – a trunk capacity of some large sedans and room that some crossovers cannot match. With 116.2 cubic feet (3291 L) of cargo room behind the first row when all rear seats are folded, Enclave has more maximum cargo volume than the 2007 Lexus RX350 (84.7 cu. ft.), 2007 Volvo XC90 (85.1 cu. ft.), 2007 Audi Q7 (71.8 cu. ft.) and 2007 Acura MDX (83.5 cu. ft.). More than two dozen well-placed storage areas, including the instrument panel, center console and covered rear cargo convenience center, allow items to be stored out of sight.
The first row includes two bucket seats, and the standard third row features a 60/40-split bench seat that can accommodate three adult passengers. The second-row seats come standard with two captain's chairs (two passengers) with an optional second-row center console that features two large storage compartments, two cupholders and is capable of folding flat into the load floor. A second-row 60/40-split bench (three passengers) seat is also available. Seat back bolsters in the third row retract to fold flat and deploy to provide additional comfort. Second- and third-row fold-flat seats extend the load floor and maximize cargo space while providing flexibility between cargo and passenger needs. All seats have a tailored appearance, with premium cloth standard on CX models and perforated leather seats standard on CXL models. The first-row seats on CXL are heated and perforated for increased comfort and enhanced quietness.
Entering and exiting Enclave's third row is made easy by maximizing the door opening and reducing the space between the rear door and leading edge of the door opening. Enclave's car-like step-in heights for the front and rear doors also contribute to easy entry and exit. GM's Smart Slide feature allows entry in the third row with the pull of one handle. With Smart Slide, the second-row seat cushion flips up while the seatback slides forward, effectively compressing the space occupied by the seat. Second-row seats also have fore/aft adjustment. When adjusted rearward, the second-row seat provides more legroom for taller passengers; when adjusted forward, it provides more storage space or additional legroom for third-row passengers.
Enclave drives like a high-end luxury car
Enclave rides on a long wheelbase, with wide 67.3-inch (1,709 mm) front/rear tracks – a combination that lowers the center of gravity and enables confident ride and handling, similar to a high-end luxury car.
Enclave's precise driving feel features standard variable-effort power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering supported by independent front and rear suspensions. The front suspension features a MacPherson strut design, with a direct-acting stabilizer bar and aluminum steering knuckles. Isolated mounting points help reduce noise and vibration. The rear suspension uses a compact, state-of-the-art linked "H" design, which has an isolated mounting system that reduces noise and vibration transmitted to the passenger compartment. This design enables the handling prowess that comes with an independent suspension, but with minimal floor pan intrusion – a feature that helps the Enclave offer generous passenger and cargo space.
The available, intelligent all-wheel-drive system provides increased traction on slippery roads and other driving situations – such as freeway ramps – where increased traction would enhance handling. The system works by delivering a controlled amount of torque to the rear wheels. There is no driver intervention; the system automatically decides how much torque to apply and delivers it to the wheels with the best traction.
Enclave is motivated by one of GM's most powerful V-6 engines ever. Surpassed only by the 1987 GNX SFI Turbo, which gave 276 horsepower, Enclave's aluminum-intensive 3.6L V-6 VVT delivers 275 horsepower (205 kW) and 251 lb.-ft. (340 Nm) of torque. It is designed to deliver its performance with world-class smoothness, quietness and durability.
The engine's four-cam phasing operation of the variable valve timing system ensures linear delivery of torque across the rpm band, while features such as electronic throttle control deliver crisp, immediate response and feedback. The engine uses electro-hydraulic vane-type phasers, allowing infinitely variable combinations to optimize performance and efficiency.
A new Hydra-Matic 6T75 electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission backs the 3.6L V-6 VVT. It is an advanced transmission with clutch-to-clutch shift operation for front- and all-wheel-drive Enclaves. Clutch-to-clutch operation allows for reduced complexity and compact packaging. A wide, 6.04:1 overall ratio helps the transmission deliver both performance and fuel economy, enabling up to 7 percent improved performance and up to 4 percent improved fuel economy when compared with current front-wheel-drive four-speed automatics. The transmission has been designed so that the Enclave can be flat-towed in FWD and AWD configurations. Enclave can tow up to 4,500 pounds (2,041 kg) when properly equipped.
Comprehensive safety system
The 2008 Buick Enclave has a comprehensive safety system designed to protect passengers before, during and after a crash. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control system – with rollover mitigation technology – and GM's tire pressure monitoring system are standard. Traction control is standard on all models.
Enclave is equipped with six standard air bags: two dual-stage frontal air bags, two seat-mounted side-impact air bags in the first row and two roof rail air bags that cover all three seating rows. Complementing the air bags is GM's rollover sensing system, which activates the roof rail air bags if sensors determine an impending rollover. Because rollovers are typically longer events than non-rollover crashes, the roof rail air bags stay inflated longer to provide increased occupant protection and containment. Additionally, first-row positions feature safety belt pretensioners, which activate at the moment of a crash to take up any slack in the safety belt and hold the passengers in place.
All Buicks including Enclave come standard with OnStar Generation 7 (with a one-year Directions and Connections plan), which features the Advanced Automatic Crash Notification system. If a crash activates an air bag, the OnStar system automatically notifies an OnStar advisor, who immediately calls the vehicle and/or summons emergency help.
Like all Buicks, the 2008 Enclave is also equipped with OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, the first factory-installed, fully integrated GPS navigation system from OnStar. Turn-by-Turn allows consumers to talk to a live advisor, who in turn sends complete step-by-step directions to customers' vehicles through their OnStar system. The audio directions are automatically played through the vehicle's stereo as needed, triggered by the OnStar system's GPS capabilities. This enables drivers to be led to their destination while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Enclave is built at GM's new Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Lansing, Mich. The state-of-the-art, flexible manufacturing complex is designed with people-focused production processes that ensure high build quality and represent the best of GM's manufacturing systems from around the globe. The 2008 Buick Enclave is backed by the industry's best warranty with a four-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty as well as five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain coverage.
Enclave will be sold in the U.S. and Canada. Pricing has not been announced.