By Bob Nagy
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
A well-mannered, well-finished compact crossover SUV that goes on sale in February, the 2013 Buick Encore expands the division's reach into an entirely new market segment. Intended to capture the hearts and minds of both younger urban buyers as well as empty nesters that want a versatile vehicle but no longer need an Enclave-scaled SUV with seating for seven, the 5-passenger Encore matches premium character with an accommodating interior and attractive pricing. Powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the Encore delivers exceptional fuel economy in both front-wheel-drive (FWD) and available all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations. Collectively, those admirable qualities should serve it well against key rivals like the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Mini Countryman, Nissan Rogue and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Fans of basic Buick panache will find plenty to favor in the new Encore, thanks to its combination of refinement and comfort complemented by a bounty of standard/available features, solid value orientation and outstanding fuel economy.
Some will find alternatives with more horsepower preferable to any potential fuel-economy gains the Encore has to offer. This new Buick's lack of a tow rating also may be a deal breaker for those who demand a vehicle with light-duty trailering capabilities.
Armed with an attractive package that Buick believes will appeal to a wide range of both the young and younger-thinking mature buyers, the Encore provides the automaker with a more than competitive entry in the hot-and-growing compact crossover SUV arena.
Driving Impressions Spun from GM's small global small-crossover platform, the Buick Encore's solid core structure, well-sorted suspension and electrically boosted power steering endow it with a confident and well-controlled feel that properly...complements its quiet, comfortable passenger compartment. This enlightened chassis tuning delivers a smooth ride in cruise mode and keeps body roll well in check when negotiating corners while the Encore's generously proportioned 215/55 low-rolling-resistance tires – on 18-inch alloy wheels – serve up a surprisingly high level of grip. As for caveats, the 1.4-liter EcoTec engine in this versatile Buick hauler proved quite capable of holding its own in city traffic and freeway running, but the added mass of the all-wheel-drive system does impact its enthusiasm, particularly when the passenger count rises or on sustained uphill runs.
QUIET TUNING WITH ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION
In addition to the benefitting from Buick's highly-efficient Quiet Tuning regimen, the Encore introduces a new element to the mix: Active Noise Cancellation circuitry that effectively filters out low-frequency engine sounds to ensure an even more serene passenger compartment.
"ACTIVE ON-DEMAND" ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Available on all Encore variants, this computer-controlled AWD system automatically engages the all-wheel drive as surface conditions dictate as well as each time the vehicle stops to ensure smoother off-the-line acceleration. If no slip is present, it progressively disengages to promote better fuel economy.
The Encore's passenger compartment displays the same kind of upscale ambiance and Buick character cues found in all of the division's latest offerings – packaging that's effectively complemented by an even more sophisticated variation on the Quiet Tuning theme. Whether rendered in cloth and leatherette or available leather, the well-finished, well-appointed cabin rich in soft-touch surfaces offers room for five with a 60/40 split rear bench that accommodates two average-sized adults plus a kid in the center spot. The Encore's large hatch provides easy access to its 18.8-cubic-foot cargo bay, which expands to 48.4 cubic feet with the aft seatbacks folded.Exterior
A bastion of 21st century Buick styling cues – from its waterfall grille and faux portholes to painted lower body panels – the new Encore puts a more contemporary spin on each of these elements to create a package that's skewed towards a more youthful, progressive mind-set. The Encore's highly sculpted bodywork and a tasteful assortment of bright accent bits are effectively set off by prominent blue-accented projector beam headlights and LED-infused taillights. Brushed-aluminum faux front/rear skid plates and an 18-inch wheel/tire fitment add a bit more aggressive flair to the overall mix.
The well-equipped base Encore includes numerous power assists, air conditioning, Buick IntelliLink telematics with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a tilt/telescoping steering column, cruise control, a power driver's seat, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-view camera, and more. The Encore Convenience trim level adds dual-zone climate control, remote starting and fog lights, while the Encore Leather trim nets the obvious plus heated front bucket seats/steering wheel, a power passenger seat and driver-seat memory. The top-line Encore Premium boasts Bose audio, front/rear park assist and Forward Collision Alert/Lane Departure Warning. All models feature StabiliTrak, OnStar with six months of Directions and Connections and 10 airbags.
Largely prepackaged within its base/Convenience/Leather/Premium hierarchy, the Buick Encore does offer several individual extras. All but the base model can be fitted with a GPS-enabled navigation system, a power sunroof, an oil-pan heater and 18-inch chrome-alloy wheels as well as the 7-speaker premium Bose Audio system – which is already included in the Encore Premium kit.
Every version of the Buick Encore, whether front-drive or all-wheel drive, shares the same basic powertrain. The engine is GM's familiar 1.4-liter turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Here, it's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that features manual-style shifting capabilities via a lever-mounted rocker switch on front-drive Encore models. The combination yields respectable acceleration and impressive EPA figures for a vehicle of its type, with front-drive Encores earning 25 mpg/33 mpg stats on the city/highway cycles and AWD models netting 23/30 mpg numbers. To complement its mileage-maxing prowess, the engine is designed to run on regular gasoline, not the premium grade required by many of the Encore's chief rivals.
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850-4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (FWD), 23/33 mpg (AWD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2013 Buick Encore starts at just under $25,000. Moving up the line, the Encore Convenience opens around $25,800, the Encore Leather commands close to $27,500 and the Encore Premium commences just below $29,000. All-wheel drive on any version will add $1,500, and a fully-loaded top-line Encore will hit the street just below $34,000. Although not the lowest priced among its competitive set, the Encore does become a far more compelling value when you factor in its more extensive roster of standards in each trim grade, including features like IntelliLink telematics, Active Noise Cancellation and a rear-view camera, not to mention potential savings in fuel costs. On sale early in 2013, Kelley Blue Book has not yet established a resale value for the Encore. However, residuals on the full-size Buick Enclave have tended to fall slightly below other vehicles in its segment.
By mike on Sunday, June 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Compact, Economical, Luxurious, Good MPG"
Cons: "Low Performance, No Garage Door Opener"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This car is great for us! We live in a major city and need a small SUV with good gas mileage. The car is small, but it is very efficient with the space it has. It's small enough that you can fit in a lot of parking spots and the rearview camera makes parking easy. The interior features are great! I love the Pandora link and the voice controls. The gas mileage is fantastic, we have the AWD model and get an average ~27 MPG. I love the two glove compartments, one of them is quite small but it stores sunglasses and a garage door opener just fine. There are a few comfort items that are worth pointing out: 1. The visor is not like a normal visor, it's quite small and you can't extend it. As a result, it doesn't block the sun very well. 2. There is only one armrest for both front passengers, and it's not much of an arm rest. 3. The car has OnStar but no garage door opener! For a car with so many great features, it's disappointing that I have to still carry around a garage door opener. Additionally, I personally think OnStar is worthless. Especially if you have navigation in the car. 4. You need to be aware that the performance is very poor. It's a small engine and you need to be ok with that when you make this purchase. For us, we don't really care that much. You can't get this size and gas mileage without some trade off."
13 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By j on Friday, May 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"shortcoming is wiper system because the passenger side clears to right into line of sight of driver and driver side wiper does not do very good job at higher speeds, obscuring view of driver. should be reversed to passenger side instead"
10 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Mel on Thursday, April 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage and love the GPS/Bluetooth"
Cons: "Could use a larger storage space in back"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Has all the bells/whistles, a comfortable ride and great on gas. I'm only filling up once every 6 days and I love it. Would recommend to anyone on the market for a compact SUV."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By JoJo131 on Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage, very comfortable, quiet ride"
Cons: "Can't think of any at the moment"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We were in the Ford family of fine cars for the past 40 years. Although our Fords have always been reliable, this time I wanted a comfortable, luxurious interior and better gas mileage without sacrificing space. After much research, we decided to buy an Encore and could not be more pleased. With city/highway driving, I've been averaging an impressive 31.3 miles/gallon. I can't help but smile each time I pass a gas station without filling up! The seats are extremely comfortable and the ride is smooth and noise-free. The technology is impressive, although coming from a car without all of the bells and whistles, I must admit, there is a learning curve. The Encore has more than enough get-up-and-go for me. The Buick warranty is excellent. I could not be more pleased with our purchase."
12 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Jane on Thursday, April 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"The front seats have no padding. You can feel the springs. On a 200 mile trip it will just kill you. My spouse and I both had back pain. Even with taking breaks it still was agony. The available adjustments to the seats didn't help. We are buying padded covers, if that doesn't help we will trade rather than have to live with this problem."
13 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By bnicenyc on Monday, March 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "handles remarkable well in the snow, fuel economy"
Cons: "no heater/aircondioner vents in the back seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought this car for my wife. She likes SUV's but wanted something compact yet luxurious. The Encore was the only car that came close to fitting these requirements. We bought the convenience package with sunroof and upgraded radio. Couldn't be happier with the car. great fuel mileage and surprisingly handles remarkable well in the snow."
15 people out of 21 found this review helpful