Capable, Comfortable

In its first year on the market, the Enclave's standard 3.6-liter V-6 felt so burdened by the crossover's plus-sized weight — it comes in at nearly 5,000 pounds, much more than most minivans — it had a hard time generating good passing power. That's not the case anymore. Aided by direct-injection technology, today's Enclave has surprising pep. It moves out from stoplights and makes quick work of uphill on-ramps; the standard six-speed automatic upshifts smoothly and kicks down without too much delay.

With seven adults in our front-drive test vehicle, getting up to highway speeds took about all the power the Enclave could muster — but the V-6 was up to the task. All-wheel drive adds another 200 pounds, but short of a full passenger load, that extra weight shouldn't bother the Enclave.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard. The pedal feels mushy, and even modest stops induce plenty of forward suspension dive. The Enclave's EPA gas mileage, at 17/24 mpg city/highway, nearly matches most mom-mobiles, and it's competitive with other large crossovers. All-wheel drive knocks mileage down to 16/22 mpg. The Enclave also runs fine on regular gas; several luxury competitors recommend or require premium.

Though all crossovers employ carlike independent suspensions, that doesn't always guarantee ride comfort. Buick has done a nice job here. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard, but even with my tester's optional 20-inch wheels and P255/50R20 tires, the Enclave absorbs bumps and masks highway imperfections well. What's more, it doesn't come off feeling floaty and uncontrolled, which is a downside of many soft-riding SUVs, in the process.

At low speeds, the steering wheel turns with light effort and buttery smoothness. The Enclave has numb reflexes and plenty of body roll, but it points where you want easily enough. At highway speeds, the wheel has appropriately low assist and requires few corrections to stay on course.

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