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Hi to all. Sharing a post on my now second favorite vehicle site . . . .

Background

Since I enjoy lurking and reading posts on acuramdx.org and other sites, I am taking the time to share our thoughts on replacing our 2001 Acura MDX. We have thoroughly enjoyed the MDX since picking one up in its inaugural month -- October 25, 2000 and number 281. We have been Honda/Acura owners and currently have a 2005 Honda Odyssey to go with the MDX. With 3 kids under 9 years of age, our situation is a little different than 7 years ago (only 1 then), but our goal was to replace the 2001 MDX with an up-to-date newer model that took all of the great things we enjoy about our current MDX and improve on them -- safety, utility, good looks, luxury features (Nav, DVD, etc.), handling and performance. The 2001 MDX truly was ground breaking for a car based SUV with a third row and unmatched utility in a sporty package. Until very recently, the car based SUV options that could match the MDX was limited at best. It has taken the rest of the industry nearly 7 years to catch-up, and thankfully for consumers, there are some real options today. In researching replacements, the focus was on car based SUV’s and did not include minivans since we have the an excellent one already and did not want another. We looked at the following:

2007 Acura MDX
2007 Audi Q7
2007 BMW X5
2008 Buick Enclave
2008 Ford Taurus X
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 Lexus RX -- mainly to see a great interior in person
2007 Mazda CX-9
2007 Mercedes GL
2007 Saturn Outlook
2007 Volvo XC90

The Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander were not on the list because we knew them very well already, they are both being replaced shortly, and we wanted to see the rest of the field. 3rd row capability was important to us as the list highlights. The list boiled down to three -- The MDX, Enclave, and CX-9. The Q7, X5, and GL were top notch luxury as expected, but definitely not worth the $20k price premium in our estimation and not the best regardless of price. The Volvo felt dated already; the Ford a complete waste; Lexus to small, but a larger RX like an RXL with a third row would be tough to ignore since they are always very sharp; The other two GM triplets were well done, but we preferred the Enclave in virtually every way. A short snippet on the finalists.

Finalists


Acura MDX. The best driving machine amongst the finalists. Acura did an excellent job in updating the dash and the interior overall minor quibbles aside. Inside, the utility definitely took a step back in the name of styling and that was disappointing. The third row is dark with the short, cut off windows, and space in the back has been limited do to the sloping rear and speakers in the headliner. Interior noise is better than our 2001, but Honda/Acura has never been great at isolating NVH. Exterior, not a fan. The front shield has been much debated and discussed, the side profile is pedestrian, and the rear while looking ok copies the Audi a bit to much for my liking. The muscular lines of the TL would have translated to MDX and removed any the debate on looks. Too bad. The MDX is still an excellent package and all around performer, but it’s not head and shoulders better than the pack anymore.

Buick Enclave. First it’s a GM and Buick at that. Our last two GM vehicles were a 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue (supposed import fighter at the time with well documented power steering rack issues) and a 1982 Olds Cutlass Supreme with a diesel engine. To say the least, our family has not had a positive experience with GM and we basically removed them from our shopping list after the diesel engine fiasco and how GM choose to handle it. For those not aware of GM’s 1980’s diesel engine nightmare, consider yourself lucky. I was a youngster then, but can vividly remember sitting on the side of the road when yet another diesel engine blew. To say it’s a big deal that a GM made the finals is an understatement for our family and highlights that GM has done something well and the imports have missed a trick -- namely size and an extremely well packaged interior space. Basically, there is not a more versatile SUV on the market. That extra size and versatility does have a price, handling/performance. But not as much as you might think. Out of the three, the Enclave is a clear third in handling/performance, but this is not a floaty Buick. Steering is precise and handling great for its size. Inside, that extra size is very well utilized. The dash is classic with a modern touch. The NAV reminds us of the awesome best-in-class touch screen Acura units from yester-year in an updated fashion. Dual sun roofs make the cabin feel even more airy and comfortable. Quiet beyond anything I have become accustomed to coming from Acura/Honda – impressive. Interior big miss -- No Bluetooth. Simply inexcusable given the competition and NO, Onstar is not an acceptable replacement. Exterior styling is athletic, well proportioned, and handles the extra length nicely. The big Buick logo on the front and back is over-the-top. A little restraint a la Acura/Lexus is in order given they are the target. Screams “I’m a Buick, aren’t you surprised” instead of expecting to be in the mix.

Mazda CX-9. The second best handling machine and not far behind the MDX at all. Once taking into account the extra size and lack of SH-AWD , the CX-9 has accomplished very similar performance. Kudos to Mazda. The exterior style was described by my significant other as the most station wagon-ish of the three due to the blended proportions. The styling is safer than the MDX and Enclave and will likely age well. The interior is not nearly as spacious as the outside dimensions suggest it should be. Similar in size to the Enclave and foot longer than the MDX, the space was adequate but not great packaging to say the least. The front seats are sandwiched by an oversized center console perhaps for a sport car like feel, but a bit to constrained for us. The interior materials and contrasting was our favorite of the bunch. In the tan leather interior, the CX-9 feels upscale and looks fantastic. The red gauges took some getting used to. From a product portfolio perspective, I really like what Mazda has been doing lately.


Verdict

In several initial reviews of the 2001 MDX, the tag “the swiss army knife of SUV’s” was applied (the tagline stolen from reviews of the 1999 Odyssey it was based on). Well, that tagline now best applies to the GM triplets and the Enclave specifically by best blending safety, utility, and style in a near luxury package -- just as the original MDX did better than anyone else for several years. We choose the 2008 Buick Enclave much to my surprise. We got past our bias (unfair or not depending on your perspective) and selected what we believe to be the best offering out there. The best part for all consumers is that the choices are improving, the choices are tougher, and competition is good.

I will still check in from time-to-time on acuramdx.org, but will obviously spend more time at a new home, www.enclaveforum.net, for the short term and until Acura/Honda regains the title.

Purchased
2008 Buick Enclave CXL AWD, 8 Passenger
Exterior - Cocoa
Interior - Cashmere
All Options except the Trailer Towing Pkg
 

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Congrats! I hope the Enclave treats you well!

Much like yourself I considered the CX-9 (too little headroom, no power folding mirrors and 1 setting only for the heated seats) & the MDX (most expensive, runs on premium, could use a 6-speed auto) as replacement for my 2006 Pilot. At this point I am hoping I can wait for the 2009 Enclave which may have a larger engine w/ Direct Injection. I can't wait!!! :)
 

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:welcome: to the forum dfc101a and congrats on the new purchase of your enclave :thumb:
very nice review btw.
 
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Hey dfc101a, congrats on the purchase and welcome to enclaveforum.net! Fantastic comparison. The wife and I had a very similar debate back in January when we were ready to replace our sedan with a 3 row people hauler in anticipation of our second child being born. Our early list also contained the CX-9 and MDX. But eventually, it became clear to us that, in our situation, we needed a 3 row vehicle with capts chairs to access the third row w/ two child seats occupying the 2nd row. That ruled out both of those vehicles. We still sat in and looked at practically every 3 row vehicle on the market at the DC auto show. I know this is a very polarizing topic, but I can't think of a vehicle in recent memory that took a more dramatic step backwards in exterior styling than the new MDX. I was a huge fan of the previous style, but think this new design is truly godaweful. My wife commented that the new front grill "looks like a bird's beak". I know some people love the new design, unfortunately I'm not one of them...

One final comment - you mention the need for bluetooth. While I agree it's desperately needed and OnStar is no replacement, it IS the reason for the omission, which is certainly no oversight or accident. GM owns OnStar and bluetooth would dramatically cut down on sales of their service, which would hit them in the bottom line. Unfortunately for GM most GM owners, it's a sad fact we have to accept.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you. We have enjoyed the Enclave this past week. I still have a like/dislike, hits/misses post sometime in the future. So far, I have missed bluetooth and a place to hang dry cleaning the most. Hard to understand how either could be missed - and yes I am well aware of the Onstar reason for the bluetooth ommision. A few minutes with Lutz and personally telling him how stupid that is would be time well spent.

A preview for another thread and already discussed some -- Beyond the actual vehicle, I will miss the excellent Acura service departments in my area. I have been thoroughly unimpressed with the Buick dealers to this point. If Buick is really targeting Acura, Lexus, and others, the dealer network in the DC area and Northeast in general has A LOT of work to do. I had to really search for our car because we wanted a loaded 8 seater. Must have dealt with 15+ dealers. 2 were good and none in my local area. The Acura dealers service department was awesome. Buick will certainly be hearing from me regarding this because we will have to live with the Buick dealer network going forward and they must improve.

For the 2009 model year besides any changes to the Enclave, the new Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, and I am sure a few other options will be out to increase the choices available. Gotta love competition.
 

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i still cannot see what all the fuss is about bluetooth.... my sister has it in her fx45 and she hates it. she still prefers to use her bluetooth headset... i for one am rarely in the car alone and i dont need everyone in the car hearing my entire conversation especially the children. im still waiting for someone to show me why it is a deal breaker for so many people. :confused:
 

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MsS42 said:
i still cannot see what all the fuss is about bluetooth.... my sister has it in her fx45 and she hates it. she still prefers to use her bluetooth headset... i for one am rarely in the car alone and i dont need everyone in the car hearing my entire conversation especially the children. im still waiting for someone to show me why it is a deal breaker for so many people. :confused:
In a word, integration. Integration into the cars display to show who is calling, integration into the audio system to mute the radio when a call comes in, integration with the interior where the microphones are placed and no wires running all over the place, integration to play the call through the speakers. Integration.

Glad that it is not something you will miss or want. Headsets work, but bluetooth is a popular feature and included on the Enclaves competition for a reason - the purchasing public as a whole values it. And with the quiet interior, bluetooth will work really well in the Enclave.

GM could have provided many of those integration points as a dealer installed option and still got some $$$. Better to pay GM for a fully integrated solution than have an extra display and wires. Maybe they will see the error in their marketing ways, but I am not betting on it.
 
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i personaly hate bluetooth all around. i have never used it in our lincoln and never will. also if i am going to talk in the car i am going to use onstar hands free. but i like to keep my destractions to a minimum when driving i dont care if other people do but i dont like to. the way i drive i can have any distractions, i need to be alert, especally when i am responding to somthing that i need to get there quick. which is why i got to that speed in my acadia.
 
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MsS42 - I have a bluetooth headset and got a Parrot bluetooth handsfree car kit for christmas. In short, I don't even KNOW where my headset is at this point! I think it's seriously in my winter coat pocket and has been for MONTHS! There's simply no comparison between having to fumble around and put on/take off a headset (I hate wearing them when not on a call, it's actually a pet peeve of mine when ppl do that) and having a bluetooth car kit (or integrated integrated bluetooth) that automatically syncs with your phone when you get in and drops when you get out. It's completely seamless. I don't even think about it. When I'm in my car, it syncs up and I can dial from it or answer from it with the push of a button. If I need to make my call private, I can simply hit another button and it drops back to "normal phone use". It's one of those things, like Tivo, that seem like a novel idea but wholly unnecessary.. that is until you have it. Then you realize what you've been missing your whole life! :)
 

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dfc101a,

Great post. When you really need a third row suitable for larger kids or adults, there really are only three main options... minivan, suburban (and yukon XL), or Enclave (and outlook/acadia). Thankfully the Enclave competes well with the luxury marques on most fronts so you don't sacrifice much if any when making that decision.

On Bluetooth, I'm in complete agreement - very frustrating that GM insists on backing their OnStar service in lieu of what consumers really want. OnStar may function just like a paired bluetooth phone once in the vehicle, but the fact that it requires a different phone number instead of pairing to the phone of the driver (or passenger) makes it a completely different animal in my book, superficial similarities be damned.

I'd suggest checking back with this forum from time to time, as bluetooth is something I'm very interested in and will be posting in the months to come on my research. There are of course aftermarket bluetooth kits from Motorola and Parrot that work very well, but I'd much rather have something that works with factory displays and did not require aftermarket buttons/keypads/screens to be surface mounted in the interior. I have read GM announcements that bluetooth will be available for Cadillacs as soon as the end of the year in the form of a dealer installed module/system. Information on just when this will be available, what vehicles it will work with, and how it will function (use factory display, nav touchscreen, onstar voice recognition software?) is simply not out there yet. Hopefully this isn't a ghost that never appears... if it does, there is a chance that it can be made to work with the Enclave as it shares the core electronics/navigation package with the Cadillac series, minor packaging and cosmetic differences aside. Also an outside possibility is for a third party, like the very adept coastaletech people, to develop a bluetooth integration module that goes between an aftermarket unit like a Parrot and the factory electronics/display. They have done this with the iPod, creating a module that connects the iPod to the factory electronics giving full control of the iPod using the vehicle's controls (including steering wheel and touchscreen functionality). Doing the same for a bluetooth kit isn't out of the realm of possibility.

So check back. Frustrating that this isn't something standard from the factory, or even readily available as dealer installed, but perhaps we will still have a solution before these cars age too much.

And welcome to the forums!
 

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ok well, i guess there are somethings some of us can live without and somethings some of can't.... we all have our preferences.... maybe someone will get me one of those parrott thingy's one day as for now, the headset just stays in the car. here lately, ive had my cell phone off lol.... tired of folks bugging every where i go.
 
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When you priced out the MDX with all the options that you wanted and then priced out the Enclave with all the options that you wanted, what was the price difference?
 

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Ms542 said:
When you priced out the MDX with all the options that you wanted and then priced out the Enclave with all the options that you wanted, what was the price difference?
FENWAH, I THOUGHT YOU WERE IGNORANT BUT I NOW I KNOW YOU ARE IGNORANT... YOU WANT TO BE A WOMAN OF MY CALIBER SO BAD THAT YOU CREATE USERNAME SIMILIAR TO MINE AND USE MY ICON THEN POST ON FORUM. HOW CHILDISH. YOU NEED TO GET A LIFE, A GIRLFRIEND OR A BOYFRIEND WHICHEVER YOU PREFER AND STOP HARASSING PEOPLE....
 
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MsS42 said:
. YOU NEED TO GET A LIFE, A GIRLFRIEND OR A BOYFRIEND WHICHEVER YOU PREFER AND STOP HARASSING PEOPLE....
He has his dog for that ;)
 

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Ms542 said:
When you priced out the MDX with all the options that you wanted and then priced out the Enclave with all the options that you wanted, what was the price difference?
Not sure about the name thing, but whatever. Here are MSRP prices for a few vehicles equipped as closely as possible to the Enclave we ordered (CXL, loaded):

$45,135 Buick Enclave AWD CXL
$72,018 Mercedes GL320 cdi
$50,480 GMC Yukon
$53,660 GMC Yukon XL
$42,745 GMC Acadia
$50,461 Acura MDX

Didn't take the time to price out the CX-9, Q7, Lexus GX/LX, Volvo, and minivans like the Quest and Odyssey.

Note that many of those vehicles lack features that the loaded Enclave has, and the Enclave is missing a few found in others (like 2nd row heated seats, bluetooth, rainsense, etc.).
 

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wow osli,

sorry you got caught up in the middle of that mess and although i wasn't the person who asked you to do but it sure was nice of you to put that info on the website for all of us to see.

thanks a bunch..... :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
osli said:
I have read GM announcements that bluetooth will be available for Cadillacs as soon as the end of the year in the form of a dealer installed module/system. Information on just when this will be available, what vehicles it will work with, and how it will function (use factory display, nav touchscreen, onstar voice recognition software?) is simply not out there yet. Hopefully this isn't a ghost that never appears... if it does, there is a chance that it can be made to work with the Enclave as it shares the core electronics/navigation package with the Cadillac series, minor packaging and cosmetic differences aside. Also an outside possibility is for a third party, like the very adept coastaletech people, to develop a bluetooth integration module that goes between an aftermarket unit like a Parrot and the factory electronics/display. They have done this with the iPod, creating a module that connects the iPod to the factory electronics giving full control of the iPod using the vehicle's controls (including steering wheel and touchscreen functionality). Doing the same for a bluetooth kit isn't out of the realm of possibility.
Osli -- Thanks for the information. I had seen the the coastaltech thread and found their solution interesting. I have not found the limited functionality of the Nav and XM to be a bother yet and the Bluetooth support from coastaltech seems to be limited to muting the speakers (something a straight bluetooth install would address regardless). I still may end up going the coastaltech way, but the Cadillac note is very encouraging. Thanks for sharing.
 

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dfc101a

I copied your letter and past it around here at the plant that built your Enclave. People can see you put alot of thought into your choice and thank you for choosing us.

People loved your letter.

:thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Don Willems said:
dfc101a

I copied your letter and past it around here at the plant that built your Enclave. People can see you put alot of thought into your choice and thank you for choosing us.

People loved your letter.

:thumb:
Don - Glad everyone enjoyed it. Please thank those at LDT for their hard work and attention to detail. Keep up the good work.
 
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