This is one super sweet ride.

The brand new Enclave, which has just been released as a 2008 model, is a definite head-turner.

It also makes a bold statement for Buick as the premium division from General Motors continues to distinguish its brand through unique and powerful products.

It’s the right vehicle at the right time.

Crossovers are hot. They deliver a sedan-like ride and fuel economy, but with the versatility of an SUV.

It’s kind of like having the best of both worlds.

The new Buick Enclave not only fulfills that niche, but it takes it up a notch.

Based on GM’s new crossover architecture — sharing the same platform as the GMC Arcadia and Saturn Outlook — the Enclave provides seating for up to eight passengers in an elegant, luxury-oriented environment.

Actually, the Enclave’s three rows of seating can be configured for either seven or eight passengers. With all three rows of seating in use, there’s still 18.9 cubic feet of room for cargo behind the rear seat.

With the second and third rows of seating folded flat, there’s more than 115 cubic feet of cargo room — more than the Lexus RX350 (84.7 cubic feet), Volvo XC90 (85.1 cubic feet), Audi Q7 (71.8 cubic feet) and Acura MDX (83.5 cubic feet).

That’s mostly due to the fact the Enclave rides on a longer 119 inch wheelbase, which also enhances the ride and handling.

Available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations, the Enclave is powered by an impressive 3.6-liter V-6 engine delivering 275 horsepower. Mated to an extremely impressive six-speed automatic transmission, it has a 2008 EPA fuel economy rating of 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway — not bad for an eight-passenger platform that also offers plenty of room to carry cargo.

While I absolutely love this powertrain (the V-6 with variable valve timing delivers exceptional performance in all driving situations and as I referenced earlier, I think this six-speed automatic is close to perfection), what’s even more impressive is the Enclave’s level of style and luxury.

Inside and out, the Enclave is distinct.

From the Buick signature waterfall chrome grille to the hood portholes, the Enclave not only stands out in the ever growing crossover crowd, it makes a statement.

That statement is also carried out in every detail of the interior — from fit and finish to the craftsmanship of the premium leather and wood surfaces to the high level of premium amenities.

A short list of standard features include Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps, tire pressure monitoring system, electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation, traction control, leather-wrapped real mahogany wood-accented tilt and telescoping steering wheel, tri-zone climate control system, Smart Slide second-row seat, analog clock with quartz movement, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar with Turn-By-Turn voice-guided navigation and six standard airbags.

When it comes to safety, the Enclave has also earned the government’s Five Star safety rating for frontal- and side-impact collisions.

Available in two trim lines — CX and CXL — the Enclave has a base price starting below $33,000 while all-wheel drive models have a base price of $34,790.

For luxury crossover buyers, the Enclave is a must test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at