Shopping For The Family Truckster: Buick Enclave, Jeep Grand Cherokee & Tesla Model S

So this week I wanted to check on actual SUV’s in my search to replace our family truckster.

The first vehicle was a 2014 Buick Enclave, essentially the model replacement for our GMC Envoy Denali. Now the Enclave is bigger, has three rows of seating and is more car like.

When you drive it, you can tell this is not a body on frame old school SUV. Its refined, drives smooth and has every amenity available. It reminds you of a old Buick, i.e Park Avenue, LeSabre or Electra 225 (“duece and a quarter”), its that conservative of a drive.

Which is not a bad thing, this is a big SUV that doesn’t quite feel like it, steering is predictable, acceleration in the 3.6 V6 (288 horsepower), is modest and it doesn’t rumble, it glides up to speed. The room in this thing is amazing, its more Chevrolet Tahoe like than an old Trailblazer.

Buick states the typical owner of a Enclave is a successful professional in their 50’s and has a salary in the six figures and the vehicle fits that profile. Its honestly over my head in price and stature, not a bad vehicle but its luxury sport utility. Not much emphasis on the sport but has plenty of upscale utility.

The next vehicle I drove was a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. The Grand Cherokee helped write the book on the modern day SUV along side the Ford Explorer in the early 1990’s, body on frame vehicles with off road capabilities, some luxury appointments and versatile.

The Jeep blew me away, its a off road vehicle but drives really well, not has smooth as the Buick but every bit of luxurious without the prestige, you know this is a Jeep but its a Limited top of the line Jeep and they do SUV’s so well, its balanced almost to perfection.

The Pentastar 3.6 V6 at 295 horsepower has the pull of a V8 and a little growl but its civilized. The seats are as comfortable as I ever sat in but supportive. Not too soft like a living room chair but they give you the prefect driving position. The steering wheel is thick like gumbo but also really comfortable.

The only knock is the Chrysler shifter for the transmission, its a modern shifter that doesn’t actually go down notches like most floor shifters, it moves the gears for you and you need to watch the dash to follow. That takes some getting used to.

Otherwise this thing is in the top echelon of SUV’s, I see why people say its “American Land Rover”, because it does off road with an on road touch.

The size inside and out is ideal, almost matches the size of my Envoy, which makes it extremely maneuverable and you never feel like you are driving an RV, its manageable. Now with the Grand Cherokee, some publications state its unreliable but its popularity is unrivaled and it drives the price up, its more expensive on the used car market than the Enclave despite as new vehicles they are comparable.

Lastly, I went to the Tesla showroom in suburban Oakbrook, its something to see, From the outside it looks like any other store in Oakbrook Center, but this isn’t a typical mall shop. Inside were two cars, a chassis and screens with the cars and all the options. Not to mention a host of knowledgeable (with no pressure), product people.

Tesla has turned the car world on its head, from all electric vehicles with 17 inch screens, to blazing fast speeds only seen in super cars and the technology what you’d expect from a smartphone. The whole store and ambiance made me think of one of the tech companies who has the latest in hardware and software.

These are cars that do everything well. The Model S (their original car and I sat in it today), is so comfortable but state of the art ad practical. The trunk is enormous bigger than class the class leading Ford Taurus & Chevrolet Impala. The front where most cars have an engine is also storage space. The batteries are underneath and still it gets a five star crash rating.

Yes we are talking about a $66,000 – $ 134,000 car but its worth every cent. Its why 500,000 people put money down on their forthcoming small car. Those in the front of the line should have one later this year, anyone starting on this now is looking two years down the road.

These cars or more than phenomenons, they are the future.

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