Buick Shows Off its Enclave
In this case, the Enclave is not really a country lying within the boundaries of the Buick, but the company’s preview of a vehicle to replace the Rendezvous crossover SUV (and Rainier?). Buick’s replacement for the Rendezvous moves to a new platform (the Lambda platform) and will carry the new Enclave name. The choice of “Enclave” demontrates how tough it is for any car company to identify catchy names for its vehicles.
The Enclave is due in early 2007 as a 2008 model-year vehicle and was shown at GM’s first press conference at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were there to get the scoop. And while getting the scoop several agreed that the Enclave may, indeed, be the first Buick they would actually consider and that this Buick may actually appeal to other than geriatric buyers.
2006 Concept: The New Vision of Buick Style
The 2006 Enclave concept closely previews the vehicle, though it still offers a significant amount of concept eyewash. Unless there is too much confusion and laughter, Enclave is the name the product is due to wear in production. The Enclave concept focuses on furthering Buick’s luxury position, with a highly sculpted and detailed design. Buick describes the Enclave name as evoking images of style, luxury, and the privacy of a quiet, protected space. The style and luxury association with the word Enclave seems a bit of a stretch when compared with the definition of the word, but the Buick concept does succeed with demonstrating images of style and luxury.
While the concept of the Enclave may be suspiciously similar to the Chrysler Pacifica, the Enclave styling is much more upscale and serious looking. Additionally, there is likely little risk that Enclave will be confused with a Minivan or station wagon.
The interpretation of the Buick grille is nicely proportioned to the rest of the nose, and moving the portholes from the fender to the hood gives them the appearance of being functional, whether they are or not. The chrome accents are nicely done and not overdone. Among the styling elements that are more concept than production is the way the front and rear fascias completely hug the twenty-one-inch wheels. More bumper would be needed for production, and it is unlikely twenty-one-inch wheels would be offered. The jewel-like headlights incorporate GM’s version of cornering headlights, and those will be included on the production car.
Note: All Enclaves will have portholes (Cadillac calls them “gills”). Six-cylinder vehicles will have three portholes per side while eight-cylinder vehicles will have four per side.
Comfort for Six
Inside, there is seating for six and a higher level of leather and wood than you’ll find on the production car, though the layout and gauges are likely close to what will be in showrooms. Circle and semi-circles dominate the dash, with round gauges, HVAC vents, and a semi-circle hood over the instrument cluster that follows the line of the steering wheel. Now that most SUVs and many cars offer in-car DVD players, it is apparently time to add more. There are four screens in the Enclave concept, one for the front passenger, one each for the middle passengers, and one for the rear passengers. Now on your family trip, each person could have the ability to watch their own movie. How’s that for family togetherness! Seating for six is in three rows of two, similar to the R-Class, with individual leather seats. Likely as not, when Enclave reaches production at least a third-row bench would be optional.
The Enclave concept’s powertrain was a 270HP version of GM’s 3.6L high-feature DOHC 24v V6, mated to a six-speed transmission. This is likely the launch powertrain, though these entries are being engineered to take GM’s dual-mode hybrid system and Enclave likely will add that option.
New Buick Returns to U.S. Production
Production of the GM vehicles sharing the Lambda platform starts with the Saturn Outlook in late 2006, followed by the Buick in early 2007, and finally a GMC product. General Motors has a new plant for these products in Delta Township, Michigan, so the Enclave will be built there instead of in the Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, facility that currently builds Rendezvous.