- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2008

Why does the one of the world’s greatest athletes drive a Buick? Like Tiger Woods, the Buick Enclave is approachable, down to earth, yet something the rest of the pack keeps chasing.

The Buick people say the 2009 Enclave CXL is a combination of style and grace with elegance and precision. Before I got into this seven-passenger, four-door crossover, I walked around it, observing its size, shape and how the body lines swept from front to rear.

The headlamps have similarity to the eyes of a human; in fact they even turn sideward to the illuminate the area in turning (adaptive headlights). The entire headlight assembly sparkles, giving a hint of a personality that’s inviting. It makes you want to get inside.

When I opened the door that sparkle could be seen everywhere, as the interior ambience is upscale and very sophisticated. Not only are the seats comfortable, they are luxuriously covered with soft-stitched leather. The trim also contains leather that blends with the burl wood mixed with brushed aluminum trim.

This atmosphere seemed to set the tone for what occurred after I started the engine and dropped the gear shifter into Reverse. The heated sideview mirrors tilted downward and the rear camera projected images onto the dash-mounted screen, allowing me to see objects behind the Enclave. Then I shifted the electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission into Drive and was on my way to a very enjoyable ride. Had the Enclave been trailering-prep equipped, the tester would have been capable of towing up to 4,500 pounds.

A V-6 engine that produces 288 horsepower and accelerates briskly powers the 2009 Enclave. The automatic transmission also can be shifted manually through the six gears.

Like greatness in golf, things to aspire to don’t come cheaply. The 2009 Enclave CXL tester had a base price of $38,440 and with a load of options the bottom line was $46,785. Enclave’s 2009 EPA mileage rating is 16 city and 22 highway.

Although the Enclave has a large interior, it’s very quiet inside. The tester featured second row captain’s chairs, and the third-row split-bench seat flipped flat to make room for added storage. One touch of a button on the keyfob and the rear liftgate rose easily, so I could store my clubs and get back to hacking around the greens.

Buick has an exclusive engineering process to reduce, block and absorb unwanted noise from entering the Enclave cabin. I’m also told the quiet, car-like driving experience is attributed to the stiff structure, its purpose-built suspension and aerodynamic shape.

The driver has eight-way power seating and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The passenger seat has four-way power - and both seats can be heated or cooled. Of course, the Enclave has one-touch up/down power windows. On the leather-wrapped steering wheel are audio controls, and my tester had a Bose sound system and XM Satellite radio.

Enclave has received the top five-star ratings for frontal crash for both the driver and front passenger. It also rates five-stars for side crash tests. As for rollover, it gets four stars.

The 2009 Buick Enclave also has Bluetooth hand-free phone interface and as a General Motors product, it also offers OnStar, a system that not only offers emergency help, it provides live advisor assist, turn-by-turn directions by the simple touch of a button.

When you put these qualities together, it’s understandable why Tiger Woods and Buick are together in the same stratosphere.