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Family Road Trip: 2011 Buick Enclave on Route 66

Submitted by on June 28, 2011 – 12:52 pm

Logging just over 1,400 miles on our round-trip journey from Madison, Wisconsin to Branson, Missouri, the majority of our “big” summer vacation this year was spent on Historic Route 66. Mile after magnificent mile, Illinois eventually gave way to St. Louis and then the Gateway Arch. Turning left in Springfield, rolling hills became The Ozarks and The Live Music Show Capital of the World lived up to its reputation for live entertainment and multi-generational fun.

Because we are a serious road tripping family, a dependable, safe, fuel-efficient vehicle is key to the success of our summer travels (not to mention, stretching our travel budget). Last year, the folks at GM presented us with a 2011 Chevrolet Traverse. Continuing in the tradition of the week-long test drive, the 2011 Buick Enclave was our ride this year. Known as a luxury crossover with with dynamic performance, I expected nothing less in an SUV from Buick. Currently the proud owner of a 2005 LaCrosse, the timeless elegance and solid performance of the Buick name has been upgraded for the high-tech family on the go.

With a 52- page chapter in the user manual just for the Infotainment System, you’ll find details for the satellite radio, CD/DVD player, bluetooth telephone connection, and rear-seat entertainment system. With auxiliary controls for USB supported drives, wireless headsets, and (get this) parental control, the GPS-based Navigation System is just as futuristic. Those of us who Go on VaCachen, love the ability to enter latitude and longitde coordinates and mark waypoints as we geocache our way across the country.

Between the Infotainment System and an active OnStar subscription, I never felt less than one touch away from assistance (a mom traveling solo with three kids this time around). Oh, did I mention there’s even an AC power outlet for charging your laptop (or, say, nebulizers for families with asthmatic kids)?

Traveling through wind, heat, and (like death and taxes) summer road construction, the ventilated front seats and tri-zone climate controls singlehandedly saved the flesh of my legs in 103-degree heat (thank you magical snowflake button).  Barreling up and down mountainous terrain and slopes unfamiliar to this flatlander, we white-knuckled to a picturesque overlook with Table Rock Lake as a backdrop. In general, roads in and around Branson are great fun for kids and passengers.

Finding ourselves heading home and on the urban cobblestone driving range otherwise known as “The Landing” in St. Louis, I’m proud to report that the 2011 Buick Enclave barreled on through without as much as a bottom out or a spilled chocolate milk. Like the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse, we played a bit of luggage Tetris, utilizing the floor console, center console, and the cargo management system like seasoned travelers. Then again, we’re packing a little smarter with each passing trip.

Overall, we’re sad to see the 2011 Buick Enclave go. The combined comfort, technology, class, and convenience of this vehicle has it high on our “next vehicle” list—making us an entirely GM family.