2014 Buick Enclave Premium Group AWD

Enclave I

Buick, a company incorporated 100 years ago, has produced the Enclave full-size SUV for seven years, with the first offering introduced as a 2008 model.  General Motors employs what is called the “Lambda” platform for its Buick Enclave line, a vehicle architecture featuring easy-access three row seating, 3.6 liter V-6 power, and choice of front- or all-wheel drive traction.

Last week I conducted a test of the 2014 Buick Enclave Premium Group SUV, courtesy of Weld County Garage in Greeley.  The vehicle was painted White Diamond Tricoat metallic and the interior was Cocoa leather with seating for seven.  A facelift was incorporated into the 2013 Enclave, and carried over to my loaner, that included a new chrome waterfall grill, LED lighting front and rear, updated dashboard with IntelliLink display, and an industry-first front center airbag. Enclave TaillightEnclave Headlight

During my days with the Enclave, I had a great time driving the car.  Ruth (my wife) and I both noticed that there is a commanding feel with the firm ride, quiet interior experience, and visibility.  Acceleration, reportedly 8 seconds from zero to 60 mph, is provided by the 3.6 liter, 24-valve V-6 with 288 horsepower and 270 lb. ft. of torque.  It’s coupled with a 6-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission with console shifter.  EPA fuel economy ratings are 16 mpg-city and 22 mpg-highway, with a 22-gallon tank to provide a measure of cruising range.  The all-wheel drive system can, in slick conditions, send up to 50% of its torque to either front wheel or up to 85% to either rear wheel.

Inside, the Enclave is pretty cavernous, with 115.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, 68.9 cubic feet behind the second row, 23.3 cubic feet behind the third row, and ample seating for seven adults when all seats are upright.  Substantial equipment was on hand, including a dual power moon roof, blue mood lighting, a rear-seat entertainment system with drop-down 8”screen and 5.1 surround sound, navigation/backup camera, and Bose stereo.  The front buckets were powered, heated, and cooled, and the steering column had power tilt/telescope articulation.

Styling for the Enclave, updated for 2013, has a softer, more elegant look with the new grill taking on more of a Buick family appearance.  The C-pillars have been blacked out to tie in with the deep tint windows, Buick tri-shield emblems have been added there, and the wheels are ultra-bright, 9-spoke, 20” alloys with P255/55R20 all-season radials.Enclave

M.S.R.P. of my Buick tester was $54,850.00, and that included $2,240.00 for the rear entertainment, $1,400.00 for the moon roof, $995.00 for the paint, $575.00 for trailering equipment, $400.00 for the alloy wheels, and freight.  Buick sells over 50,000 Enclaves every year, including during the first eleven months of 2013, and after driving the vehicle, it is evident to this reviewer why the car is so popular.



“A Hybrid for Nice People” 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Sedan

Honda hybrid IHonda Motor Company started exporting motorcycles to America, from Japan, in the early 1960’s with a clever slogan, “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda”.  I became  an early customer when I purchased a new 1964 Honda while in high school in Grant,  Nebraska.  All three Wright brothers eventually bought Hondas, and of course mine was the smallest, the Honda 50, a little machine I rolled into my junior speech class to talk about in front of my classmates.564569_4530557393104_1470037628_n

It was later, in the 1970’s, that Honda started exporting automobiles to the U.S., and in 1999 they sent the first commercially-produced hybrid sedan, the Insight, to our shores.  Its introduction preceded Toyota’s Prius by seven months, but it had two fewer doors and carried three fewer passengers than the Prius.  Such limitations have since been eliminated, but nonetheless the Prius has outsold the Honda hybrids for the last thirteen years.

For 2014 Honda has re-introduced its Accord Hybrid, which features a 50 mpg EPA city fuel economy rating.  That mileage is a breakthrough, of sorts, for Honda, and the drive train features substantial technology with its 2.0 liter Atkinson-cycle gas engine and two electric motors (drive and generation).  Total system horsepower is 196, and three driving modes are available in the hybrid Accord – all-electric, combined gasoline-electric, and gas-powered overdrive.  The latter is a Honda exclusive, allowing the automobile to lock the gas engine to the drive wheels with a clutch, not a transmission, above 50 mph.  The 55 hp electric drive motor is, in that situation, available for bursts of acceleration.  And from a standstill, the Accord Hybrid goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, regardless of altitude.  Speaking of which, the drive train in this car has a “B” braking mode that is great for descending steep mountain grades safely while charging the 1.3 kW lithium-ion battery.

Recently, a 2014 Honda Hybrid Touring edition was loaned to me out of the press fleet, and I drove it for a week.  The Accord Hybrid comes in a standard, EX-L, and Touring edition, which is the top model and the one I tested.  For $35,695.00, including freight, the Touring edition has a leather interior, navigation system with backup camera, adaptive radar cruise control, lane departure warning, moon roof, and dual heated power bucket seats.  An item I particularly enjoyed was Lanewatch, a camera integrated into the right outside mirror that gives the driver a view of the lane (in the 8” screen) to the right and behind the Honda.  This operates any time the right hand turn signal is activated.

The driving experience when behind the wheel of the Accord Hybrid is excellent, with a somewhat quieter environment than the conventional Accord and similar guidance, handling, and ride; all good.  Visibility is top-notch (see above), and real-world economy for this reviewer came in at 37.5 mpg, 25% less that the EPA estimate.  Sub-zero weather during my week with the car was a factor.

The mid-sized Honda sedan rolls on 17” aerodynamic alloy wheels with Michelin P225/50R17 Michelin GreenX energy saving radials.  All Accords were re-styled for 2013, an improvement, and this hybrid had distinctive blue-accented grill and lighting, front and rear, plus a body-colored decklid spoiler.

In high school I  fantasized about someday driving an automobile with the quality and innovation of my little Honda 50.  Someday arrived a week ago when I tested the very capable, American made Honda Accord Hybrid.