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Buick Enclave Mechanics
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Buick Enclave Engine

2009 Buick Enclave CXL Engine Bay. enlarge.

16 September 2008     Top of Enclave Review     More Car Reviews


The engine is a new direct-injection V6 with variable valve timing (VVT).

Direct injection is new. It means the fuel nozzles squirt fuel directly into each cylinder.

Since the 1950s, fuel injection has meant squirting fuel into the intake port, which means the air/fuel mixture still has to travel past the intake valves into the combustion chamber. Squirting the fuel directly into the combustion chamber gets better fuel economy and more power, but is difficult to do because the fuel injection system now needs to withstand all the heat and pressure of the combustion cycle, since it's not shielded from it by closed intake valves as are earlier fuel injection systems.

Variable Valve Timing, used since at least the 1980s in Mercedes, means that the cams are degreed to give optimum performance at every engine speed. IN the old days, one could design an engine for smooth running, or design it for fuel economy, or design it for power and racing, or have to compromise between these. With VVT, engines can adjust themselves for super-smooth idle at idle, great torque and fuel economy at middle speeds, and race-level performance at redline. Every engine should do this, and all good ones today do.

The photo above shows the engine's vanity cover. Darned if I can see any part of the actual engine; it's tiny and hides under the cover.

The engine is on the left, as seen from the front above, and the transmission is on the right.

Hidden Dipstick       top


The dipstick is well hidden. It's the yellow thing in the middle, about a foot down.

There is an oil pressure light, but I see no mention of any electronic oil level check. Mercedes have had oil level sensors and warning lights since the 1980s, which eliminate the need to check the oil by hand.

I still had to pull the dipstick to check the Enclave, unless possibly there is an oil level check in the menus someplace. Heck, my 2002 Mercedes lets you check the level from the dashboard when parked!

Fuel Gauge       top

Like many American cars, the fuel gauge reads full until you've used about 2 gallons of fuel.

Fuel Door       top

The fuel door is on the wrong side. At least the side is marked on the fuel gauge

What ever happened to GM's brilliant design with the fuel filler located behind the licence plate? I loved that! I could fuel from either side, and never dripped on my paint.

The fuel door does not lock, as it does on BMW, Porsche and Mercedes.

Drivetrain       top

The overdrives are so tall that the engine can pull only 1,600 RPM at 60 MPH, and cheerfully pulls only 1,200 RPM cruising at 45 MPH!

Upshifts       top

At full throttle, upshifts come at 40 MPH at 6,900 RPM and then 65 MPH at 6,400 RPM.

Materials       top

The accelerator pedal and the linkage which connects it to the bottom of the dashboard is all plastic. There is no rubber foot pad.

The brake pedal and lever seems like alloy, except for a rubber pad.

The parking brake arm seems to be stamped steel.

Voltmeter and Electrical System       top

The Enclave's electrical system plays many tricks to ensure long battery life and lower fuel economy. Instead of float-charging the battery all the time, it tends to charge the battery in cycles only as needed, and let it sit otherwise.

Therefore the users manual warns, and I confirmed, that the dashboard voltmeter will read all over the place. I tended to see 13V while cruising, and as much as 15.2V when it felt like charging.

Ignore this. It's supposed to vary.


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Competition (to other SUVs, not how to race-prep an Enclave)



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