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Family Friendly: 2008 Buick Enclave

The Buick Enclave is not only family-friendly and nicely appointed, it will grow with the family, writes
Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2008 Buick Enclave

Finding a vehicle that will grow with the family is one of the ongoing challenges parents face when shopping for new wheels. What you can get away with when they’re infants is one thing; when the kids start growing up inches by the hour as pre-teens is something else. Then, you throw in the fact that some parents just don’t want to be driving a minivan and it makes the whole shopping process that much more challenging.

That’s why “crossover” vehicles — the blend between truck, sport utility vehicle and passenger car — may offer a good solution. There are lots of them on the market, but the 2008 Buick Enclave may offer something more for your consideration: Seating for up to seven or eight.

Interior (top and bottom) views of the 2008 Buick Enclave.

Those ar
e magical numbers for Moms and Dads. That means you can drive the kids and your friends can come, too, on all those field trips and shopping outings. And that third row is not so small only infants and a Chihuahua would fit back there; it is a good-sized third row of seats. In fact, the Enclave’s whole interior is roomy, with plenty of “move-about” room between the second and third row of seats, if you’ve selected the seven-passenger seating option. This is somehow accomplished without creating a vehicle of gargantuan dimensions.

Buick’s Enclave is available in the CX and CXL models, with eight exterior and three interior colors, a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Each is powered by a V6 engine with variable valve timing and Buick’s first six-speed automatic transmission.

The Enclave has been packed with lots of convenience features designed to make family outings that much more comfortable. For example, the front row’s center console armrest can move forward to accommodate those who want someplace to rest their elbows, but it also can be moved backward to reveal a pull-out tray and a deep space of more than 60 cubic inches. That’s large enough to hold a purse.

Other features — all standard — include six air bags (two in the front, two side-impact air bags and two roof-rail air bags that cover all three rows), a power lift gate, tri-zone climate control, XM Satellite Radio and On-Star, Xenon high-intensity head lamps, and “Smart Slide” second-row seating. Smart Slide makes entering the third row a little easier by using a one-handle pull to flip up the second row seat and fold it forward. The third row of seats can fold in a 60/40 split and tuck away when folded flat.

Safety features — also standard — include four-wheel anti-lock brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, rollover mitigation technology, traction control, and Panic Brake Assist. When panic braking is sensed, the system automatically adds brake pressure to more quickly trigger the ABS, which may help reduce stopping distance.

Enclaves have been built in such a way so that outside noise is seriously dampened: The idea is to be able to carry on a conversation between the third and front row passengers. This is accomplished with Buick’s QuietTuning engineering designs that includes strategically placed sound-dampening materials in dozens of locations throughout the vehicle, and by adding such things as triple door seals and seals on the windshield. Even the side view mirrors have been designed to minimize noise.

On the road, the Buick Enclave offers a smooth ride and is easily maneuverable, thanks to standard power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and independent front and rear suspensions. Visibility to the front and rear is good, but slightly diminished to the front sides because of large A pillars and side view mirrors.

The dashboard is nicely laid out and dressed in classy wood accents.

Overall, we found the 2008 Buick Enclave to be not only a family-friendly and nicely appointed way to get around, but certainly a vehicle that can grow well with you and your children.

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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