First Drive: Buick Enclave & Buick Verano Turbo

Buick EnclaveBuick Enclave & Buick Verano Turbo
By Bill Schaffer

Louisville, KY ? Not too many years ago Buick?s product line was faltering in the U.S. with cars that had a reputation for appealing mostly to older people, and apparently upscale car buyers in China, where more than two million Buicks have been sold in the last 11 years. ?Sales continued to increase in China, but were declining quickly in the U.S.

Buicks were noted for their conservative styling, handling and performance.? Enter the Buick Enclave in 2008.? Like reinforcements coming over the mountaintop, the full-size, three-row crossover SUV had styling that required a second and even a third look ? it is beautiful and it became the standard bearer of the new Buick brand.? Enclave sales were good, then better and better.? Where most new vehicles peak in sales the first year or two, the Encore continued growing, even after five years.

For 2013, the Enclave was freshened, with careful attention taken not to mess with the winning formula.? New are body-colored fascias (front and rear) and rocker moldings along with a new hood and grille. ?It also gets the popular LED daytime running light treatment and LED taillights.

Inside the instrument panel and door trims are new and look richer with stitching on the panels.? ?Ice-blue ambient lights and new climate controls cap off the changes. ?In addition, it still has one of the better third row seating access systems and an outstanding potential cargo capacity of 115.2 cubic feet when the second and third rows of seats are folded.

Buick Enclave - DashboardMechanically there has been some tuning with new suspension technology, which made subtle improvements to the ride and handling.

A 3.6-liter direct injected V-6 engine powers all versions of the Enclave.? The engine produces 288 horsepower, driving the front wheels through a six-speed Hydra-Matic transmission ? all wheel drive is an option.? Fuel economy is listed at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the FWD and 16/22 mpg for the AWD.? The Buick Enclave accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.? The towing capacity of 4,500 pounds is sufficient for taking along some adult toys like snow machines or personal water craft.

Buick Enclave has some innovative new safety features, too.? It?s the first vehicle to use the front center airbag, which fills the space between the front two seats in a side impact crash to protect the front seat passengers from colliding with each other.?? The rear camera includes a cross traffic alert system that becomes very helpful in avoiding vehicles sneaking up behind you as you try to back out of a parking place.

Buick Enclave - rearBuick Enclave comes in three trim levels, which numerically are 1SD, 1SL and 1SN, or by name Convenience, Leather and Premium, respectively.? Pricing runs $40,095, $44,110 and $47,275 including the destination charge.? All-wheel drive adds $2,000.? Pricing peaks at about $55,000 when all the options are included on the Premium.

Driving through the beautiful farm country near Louisville, the Buick Enclave was very quiet, and comfortable in typical Buick fashion, but the crossover feels well controlled bordering on agile, which is surprising considering its full-size stature.

Where the Buick Enclave shines is styling, it?s a head turner, and the kind of vehicle you get out of and turn to take one more look as you walk away.? The Enclave has blazed the styling trail for all the new Buicks since 2008 and those to come.

Consumers must like the Buick Enclave, too, because it?s the bestselling three-row luxury crossover in the U.S. significantly beating out competitors like the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and Lincoln MKT.? In fact, Enclave sales were nearly as good as all these competitors combined.


Buick Verano Turbo

Buick Verano For those keeping score, Buick is doing a lot of other things right, too.? The all-new Buick Verano compact sedan has shown continued growth through its first nine months on the market pushing sales significantly ahead of the main competitors: the Audi A3, Acura ILX and Lexus IS 350 and IS 350.? It?s also interesting to note that 50 percent of the sales are conquests from other brands.

Buick just introduced page two of the Verano history in the form of the Buick Verano Turbo model.? Now in addition to the standard 180-hp, 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, shoppers can select the new Turbo model which is powered by a 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-charged four-cylinder engine, which was lifted out of the Regal GS. ??The Turbo has a standard six-speed automatic transmission with an optional (no cost) six-speed manual transmission.?? You don?t see many Buicks with a manual transmission, but this one has a nice feel, and adds a new dimension to the littlest Buick.

The Buick Verano Turbo becomes the fourth model of the Verano lineup and the top model in terms of price and performance.? Although Buick doesn?t talk about tweaks to the suspension and brakes, what is there appears to work well for fast drives on curvy and hilly roads.? The Verano is not going to be a racer, by any means, but it can certainly add some excitement for the commute and Sunday drives in the country.

Buick Verano - DashboardMaking the benchmark 0 to 60 mph acceleration run takes only 6.2 seconds.? Fuel economy still comes in at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Buick Verano planners loaded up the Turbo model with nearly all the features as standard equipment.? They also gave it the full complement of safety equipment, too, including 10 airbags, a rear vision camera, Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert along with StabiliTrak stability control and four-wheel disc brakes with all the electric enhancements.

The well outfitted base model Buick Verano has a starting price of $24,850 and the top non-turbo model, the 1SL Leather, is $28,525, both including the $885 destination charge.?? For $30,875 you can get the Turbo ? Go for it!? It?s well worth the extra $2,350, and for about $2,000 more you can have it with ?everything.?

The Buick Verano Turbo is a very cool sedan that?s going surprise many people including some car enthusiasts who might normally turn up their noses at ?a little Buick.????Buick Verano

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