DETROIT – General Motors Corp. unwraps the Buick Enclave concept, the much-anticipated look at the Lambda platform of cross/utility vehicles, here at the North American International Auto Show here.

The luxury CUV will go into production in 18 months, says CEO Rick Wagoner. Prior to that, a Saturn version, the Outlook, is due to market in the year's fourth quarter.

The GMC Acadia is expected to follow as a third member of the midsize CUV family.

While the concept is shown as a 6-seater, Anna Kretz, vehicle line executive, says the production model can be configured for as many as eight passengers.

The concept has a 3.6L DOHC V-6 with variable valve timing, rated at 270 hp, with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

'06 Buick Enclave

Kretz declines to provide detail on the production model, which is expected to offer a V-6 as standard, with optional V-8 power.

The concept has all-wheel drive and a 4-wheel independent suspension.

The Enclave has an athletic yet elegant presence, with its wheels pushed to the corners and arched fenders.

It is fronted by Buick's signature waterfall grille, but in black chrome, adding to an overall look that sparkles with chrome and jeweled headlamps.

The headlamps feature high-intensity discharge lighting technology and are integrated with GM's adaptive forward lighting system, so they turn in the direction of the front wheels. The taillamps have a light-emitting diode high-mounted stop lamp.

A skylight runs the length of the vehicle.

The interior makes ample use of leather, wood and brushed aluminum. There is mood lighting, directed lighting and ambient lighting in the vehicle.

There are individual, adjustable power seats for all, and the in-dash/in-seat overhead DVD system allows passengers to view as many as four different selections from screens popping out of visors, consoles and a movable overhead vanity.

While Kretz says there is no competition for the Enclave on the market, the Chrysler Pacifica and Mercedes R-Class immediately spring to mind. All are 6-seaters with center consoles between seats in each of the three rows.

The new vehicles from the Lambda platform are expected to be built at GM's new Delta Twp., MI, plant, near Lansing.

Meanwhile, Wagoner defends the pushed-up launch of GM's new fullsize SUVs, while the CUVs, in arguably a more popular segment, come second.

It is not a question of focusing on one over the other, he says. GM has no intention of abandoning profitable fullsize SUVS, a 750,000-unit segment in which the auto maker has about 40% share.

The market is segmenting, and GM needs the right number of entries in each to receive proper support, Wagoner says.

He declines to say how profitable the CUVs will be.

apriddle@primediabusiness.com