Road Trippin’ in the Buick Enclave

#Buick #Enclave

I confess: I drive a minivan, and I like it. But like many moms who have been driving one since their children first came into the world, now that I’m not toting strollers and other baby paraphernalia, I’m now ready for a more “grown up” vehicle.

Mind you, I still need a third row for car pooling to soccer games and kid events, so I’m starting to look at SUVs and crossovers. When Buick and GM offered me the use of a 2015 Enclave for a week, I jumped at the chance to try one out. Isn’t she sleek and pretty with her Dark Sapphire Blue color?

#Buick

She was delivered just in time for a trip to San Antonio to SeaWorld and AdventureCon. Of course, as our family slogan is “normal around here is just a setting on the dryer” this trip kicked off with a twist.

More like, a kick. To my son’s knee.

Three days before we were to leave, a visit to the orthopedist culminated with crutches and an immobilizer, and an invitation to his first (and hopefully only) MRI. True to form, when we hobbled to our minivan in the lot, we discovered we couldn’t actually get him in the car – his straightened leg was too long! He couldn’t swing into the front seat, even with the seat all the way back. We scuttled the front seat as far forward as it would go, and pushed the second row seat to its furthest position…and we could just get him in.

Sideways.

He was near tears. I was panicking over how he was going to have to contort himself for the five-hour drive to San Antonio in the Enclave that had just been dropped off for our drive experience, as if he couldn’t get into a minivan comfortably, how could he fit in an Enclave?

Silly me.

The situation easily resolved itself when Boo figured out that the Enclave second row seat, folded down, was the same height as the rear seat, so it made a nifty footrest for him. Problem solved. (And just imagine the cargo capacity with ALL the seats folded down!)

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When fellow minivan driving friends heard I was test driving the Enclave, the questions came rolling in: “Do you like it?” and “what did you think?” With the perspective of the minivan driver in mind, I’m sharing my thoughts.

The Details

Leg room was generous, even with a small cooler for water bottles and a bag for snacks taking up some space – particularly in the third row.

The car packed up easily for our trip. The rear cargo compartment neatly held three carry-on sized suitcases, a very large pool bag filled with beach towels and sunscreen for our time at Aquatica, our shopping bag of snacks for the hotel, and hats for the weekend. For a trip to the OBX, we would be folding down a third-row seat to accommodate boogie boards, beach toys, boxes of food staples and full size suitcases, but for a 4-day trip, the cargo space was perfect for this over-packer.

#Buick

This photo would be more impressive had I remembered to take a shot of the packed trunk before we left. #momfail

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As we pulled out of the drive, the day was already heating up, and I was happy to try out the cooled seats. It’s one feature that I’m definitely going to have in the next vehicle given the hot summers here in Texas. (I refuse to think about the need for heated seats and a heated steering wheel yet, but the Enclave offered both of those, too.)

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Speaking of backing up, the Enclave’s rear-view camera guides turn as you turn the wheel so you have a better indicator of where you’re headed; the side-view mirrors angle down when you put the car in reverse, which I found very helpful for both seeing that parking block and painted space dividers, and finding the curb when parallel parking. My husband, Mr. “I learned to drive in a pickup truck and I use my side view mirrors, not a camera”, wasn’t as much of a fan of the tilting mirrors, but this I happily informed him that this feature can be switched off. It offers something for everyone, y’all.

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I’ve found that drivers are even more aggressive here in the DFW area than they were in Chicago, and so having the side blind zone alert was a safety feature that I really appreciated. When a car enters your blind zone area, an icon on that side view mirror lights up. Another safety feature that was helpful was the rear cross traffic alert, beeping when a car was coming into my space. With so many people driving large vehicles lately, it’s a great feature to have when backing out at a super-store lot, where everyone seems to be in a hurry. It also beeped at me when people came too close to the back of the car, although this isn’t an indicated feature.

All the construction going on this summer means narrower lanes. If you are like me, I HATE driving in the right-hand lane when concrete barricades are set right next to the outside line – the lane departure feature beeps at you when you cross a line marker without signaling, and so I didn’t worry that I was too close to the lanes to my right as I nervously eyed the concrete barrier to my left.

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Inside the car, it felt quite grown up. Beautiful leather seats (a must for cleaning up after kids), electric adjustable seats (with memory) in front, touch-screen controls for Sirius XM/radio/CD/DVD and Navigation, all in one spot, temperature controls for the kids in the 2nd row, control of the DVD player in the second row – because, yes, DVD. The leather seats in this, and in any car, should definitely be regularly maintained to avoid deterioration. See here to learn about caring for automobile leather. It also includes the much-needed dual headphones so you can listen to your tunes while the kids watch their DVDs. Speaking of the kids, the 2nd row console also had USB ports and more, including a place to plug in the Xbox if needed. No more “my iPod is dead” complaints coming from the rear seats.

This model also features a dual moon roof equipped with solar shades. My husband isn’t a fan of the lack of a solid cover, but I like the sunroof open (I feel less claustrophobic) so the solar shade was a nice compromise for blocking the harsh Texas sun. The remote start was a great feature, too – I could turn on the car so it could start to cool down before we stepped foot in the garage.

The 3.6L V-6 engine was peppy and quiet – no need to crank up the radio to drown out highway noise here, and on my drive to San Antonio we averaged about 24 mpg – about the same as my minivan. The ride was smooth, and the seats were comfortable – so much that on the entire ride, my sciatica did not kick up. THAT is a huge positive for me, as long trips in the minivan require a lot of seat adjustments to keep the pressure off my leg when driving. The third row seats, according to my 11-year-old, were quite comfy.

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Now, as a mom, one important feature is having enough cup holders. While the kids appreciated having second row cup holders that are easily reached, an awkward ridge on of the Enclave doors made for a tight but not impossible fit for drive-thru cups, although the bottled water fit fine. Likewise, the front seat cup holders were a snug fit for my Starbucks cup. (First world problems, I know.)

A handy feature I didn’t pick up on until too late was all the extra nav options available with the OnStar included on the Enclave. I’m a planner, and prefer to map out my route ahead of time and I could have sent my chosen MapQuest directions directly to OnStar! Mapping them out on the OnStar RemoteLink app would have been an alternate option. Note to self: turn the flyer for the OnStar over.

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The Takeaway

So for my minivan driving moms who were after my two-cents, here is my take: the 2015 stylish Buick Enclave scored high with both me and the kiddos. It was fun to drive, had great acceleration, and all the safety features are a welcome addition. There was plenty of room for our family of four (and dog), and while the cargo space is smaller than my minivan with all seats in use, it isn’t less than what I would need on a day-to-day basis.

And I’ll be honest, the difference in the number of cup holders was more than made up for by the cooled seats, particularly when it’s 100 degrees outside.

Disclosure: It was my pleasure to work with GM and Buick with this drive experience. They provided me with the 2015 Buick Enclave for 7 days. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
My apologies to Buick for any dog hair Macy contributed to the car during my week’s drive.

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