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Help me choose an SUV - 2008 Enclave vs. Lexus RX350

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So I've been shopping for a reasonably sized SUV to make more or less weekly trips between the city and the mountains. Not going to use it for much of anything else and it won't be a daily driver.

This week, I test drove a whole bunch of models and ended up putting down a $500 deposit on a 2008 Buick Enclave, with 54,000 km (33,500 miles) on it. It is an Arizona vehicle originally - many people from here buy AZ vehicles because they get mostly highway-driven and don't get beat up as much as the harsh Canadian winters put on a car.

However, I have been waffling and humming and hawing because a 2008 Lexus RX350 was also high on the radar, and I'm wondering if it would be the better call. The price of the two vehicles is about the same and they're both from reputable dealerships.

2008 Buick Enclave - 54,000 km


Pros of the Buick:
-Huge. Massive. Seats 8 pretty comfortably, back row is actually fairly roomy. So I can take people with me to said mountains easily.
-Also, quite heavy, which should bode well for snow performance; I expect it'll be a tank.
-Good interior, lots of nice options (rear DVD etc.) but thankfully, no sunroof or navigation system, which are two problem areas people have had with this model that I can avoid having to fix.
-Super comfortable, quiet ride (best I've experienced in any similar vehicle). Nice when doing a 400km round trip.
-Dealer offers a lifetime engine warrantee for free.
-Basically in immaculate condition inside and out, might as well be new to look at the thing.

Cons of the Buick:
-Reliability might be a problem. It's a low km car but it's a first year model, and they have had issues with the timing belt and some other components. Somewhat offset by the warrantee, but I'd rather not be stuck in snow 200 km away and have my car break down.
-Fuel economy isn't exactly terrible considering its size, it's a V6 rather than a V8, but it is a big car so it's not good either.
-V6 is a bit underpowered for it but not really looking for performance here anyway.
-Hard to find decent snow tires for the stock 19" rims.
-Roof bar system is not the best but if I put anything up there it wouldn't fit into my 6'2'' clearance underground parking anyway.

2008 Lexus RX350 - 83,000km


Pros of the Lexus:
-Comes with a set of free winter tires, roof cross bars and tow package (though I don't know what I'd tow to be honest).
-Reliability; I can pretty safely expect it to make it to 200,000km on the odometer.
-Fuel economy is pretty decent for a mid-size SUV, and it handles a bit better than the Buick.
-Ride is comfortable and quiet, though not so much as the Buick.
-Interior is comfortable, and in overall very good shape.
-Has scotchguard on the hood to keep it lookin' nice.
-Dealer gives free nitrogen for life, couple of other minor perks.

Cons of the Lexus:
-Smaller than the Enclave. Could still probably get enough gear in to take a couple people with me but not as many or as comfortably.
-Has 83,000 km (51,500 miles) which is still fine but obviously more than the Enclave.
-Has a sunroof, which compromises head room (I'm tall), though it's still big enough up front.
-Has been driven here so it has plenty of the expected rock dings on the hood, which is a nitpick since it's been detailed and they're all invisible from 2 feet away.
-Doesn't have DVD or some of the other little niceties of the Buick, but I'm not sure I care THAT much about that stuff.

Any experience with either of these or advice in general? Help me make a call here.
post #2 of 9
lexus please. got to drive the 400h and it was good times. funny to see the car wash ppl trying to start the car because the engine is super quiet, they didnt know if it was on or not laugh.gif
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Given the 400h is a hybrid it probably wasn't running.
post #4 of 9
I personally prefer the styling of the Buick. It's somewhat reminiscent of American Luxury from the past.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
People either love or hate the Enclave's looks (guy I know referred to it as reminiscent of a bloated beluga whale) but I like it. However, I think I'm going with the Lexus. I just can't bring myself to not buy Japanese, it's all I've ever known and I've never had any problems with them, so there's a trust thing.
post #6 of 9
Of the two, my vote is for the Buick. Sorry, just cannot get past the fact that most RX's are driven by women and thus, the RX developed into a "chick" car.

Also, are you in AZ visiting?
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
No, the Buick was imported.

As for the "chick" car thing, don't get it - it's basically a toyota highlander. Even hardtop Jeeps are apparently chick cars according to some. Meanwhile Buick is for old people apparently. I cannot manage to interest myself in stereotypes associated with car manufacturers.
post #8 of 9
I don't know why, but for some reason I find the RX lacking in character. I have a cousin who drives a RX, and for the brief moment I've driven hers, or the one my wife received as a loaner, I never found myself excited or overly impressed. Disclaimer: I've yet to drive an Enclave, however I've always found them to be a stylish alternative to the Acura MDX.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
It's not a terribly exciting vehicle, I won't argue with that. I test drove an Acura RDX - now there's an exciting vehicle. Unfortunately it's also bafflingly small and low-clearance for a crossover SUV and the ride is stiff. So despite the drool-worthy whooshing sensation that occurrs when you floor that car, I opted for less exciting. I'll get something more fun down the line when I'm shopping for a summer toy.

The RX has the following in its favour. The interior fit and finish is superb, better than Acura's and as good as the infinitis I tested. While the driving experience and handling may not be adrenaline-pumping, it is a great environment to spend a long haul in. The ride is very quiet and comfortable (the Enclave's is better but the RX beats the MDX in this department). There is quite a bit of space behind the passenger seats, again the Enclave has a bunch more, but that's a much bigger vehicle. The RX has as good or better fuel economy than any comparable SUV that isn't a hybrid. It's cheap to insure - only the MDX was on par there. Most importantly, I have utmost confidence in its reliability. Honda and Acura are A-No.1 in the reliability department in my estimation but between Honda and Toyota it's pretty damned close.

Also, idiosyncratic to my deal, I got free winter tires and it comes with a roof box and tow package, which is good, because this is for skiing purposes after all.
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