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  • Drew Dowdell
    Drew Dowdell

    Buick Week: 2013 Buick Enclave First Drive

    December 4th, 2012

    Drew Dowdell

    Managing Editor - CheersandGears.com

    Day two of Buick Week. Yesterday we gave you a review of the 2013 Buick Verano, up today is a First Drive of the 2013 Buick Enclave.

    Buick first introduced their jumbo-sized Enclave crossover in 2007 for the 2008 model year. The Enclave quickly made a name for itself as a true luxury ride and also brought down Buick’s average buyer age dramatically. Though that body generation of Enclave just completed its fifth year on the market, sales remained very strong, reporting around 50k units sold as of the end of November 2012. Enclave’s conquest rate is just about 45% with most trades coming from Lexus, Ford, and Honda. Enclave is able to boast the highest sales in the 3-row Luxury Crossover market. With such good sale results, Buick is understandably reluctant to make huge changes to the Enclave’s formula for the 2013 model year.

    Buick invited me to Louisville, KY to sample the 2013 Buick Enclave and report back to you on my thoughts.

    Less cushion, more pushin…

    We sampled a 2010 Buick Enclave 2 years ago and looking back at my notes, one phrase stood out: “Feels like riding on a cloud, but don’t push it around a corner”. That feeling no longer applies to the 2013 Enclave. While the suspension is still quite supple, it no longer has that vintage Buick floaty feel that the previous Enclave had. Buick fitted the new Enclave with new dual-flow damper front struts. These new struts receive most of the credit for the more athletic moves the Enclave is capable of now. There is no mistaking the Enclave for a CTS-V, but you can take an off-ramp with some authority and not feel like you’ll end up in the weeds.

    The 3.6 liter V6 carries over, but the 6-speed transmission is heavily revised to address complaints of busy shifting. During my drive, I found the setup to be just about perfect, though I did wish for a little more torque at the low end.

    Refined style, now with more refinement

    The Enclave styling complaints response department was likely a lonely place. In this author’s opinion, the previous Enclave was one of the most handsome of luxury crossovers available. While most others try to be edgy and sporty, Buick goes for curvy and classic. In the updated Enclave, all of the main styling themes remain. The all new front clip is capped with a grille that is now more upright and toothier. Those of us who like vintage Buicks might see a hint of the 1949 model in the grille. Gone are the two-tone bodies with a monochrome palette taking their place.

    The tail lights now use LED and light pipe technology. Difficult to capture with the camera, the tail lights give off an eye catching and haunting glow rather than the harsh LED light you are used to from other models with just LEDs out back. The rear accent lights mimic the eyebrow look we see on the 2013 Buick Verano tail lights. LED accent lighting has been installed up front as well.

    Inside, designers moved away from wood-look trim and instead incorporated more stitched leather into the design. Layout of the controls is largely the same, but the controls themselves have been updated. The dials of the HVAC controls remind me of the high end NEST home thermostats that are becoming popular. One missed opportunity is the lack of update to the gauge cluster and the monochrome driver information center, the second, which will likely get the most noise in the reviews is the lack, even as an option, of keyless ignition.

    Aft of the driver, the interior is largely carry over for the second two rows.

    Pricing for the 2013 Enclave starts at $39,270 including destination charge.

    The Long and Short

    Buick realizes they have a market leader in the Enclave and for 2013 sought to simply take what was successful and make it better. From this first drive, they've largely succeeded in that regard.

    Tomorrow, we take a first drive with both the manual and automatic versions of the Buick Verano Turbo.

    Disclaimer: Buick provided transportation from Pittsburgh, PA to Louisville, KY and one night of accommodations for this review.

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    How was the fit and finish of these models? Did everything feel solid to you? I wonder how this will sale in comparison to the Acadia when they are side by side. Comparing this to the Acadia Pics I uploaded from the Seattle Auto Show leaves this car with some glaring omisions. My gut tells me GMC will win between these two, but this comparison while a solid review does not seem to deliver a the goods.

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