By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.6
The 2014 Buick Encore SUV takes the division into uncharted waters, wading into a crowded pool of compact crossovers, but with a level of luxury and sophistication uncommon in this class. Buick hopes its miniaturized Enclave will appeal to style-conscious youth, as well as empty nesters hoping to downsize, but not downgrade, their ride. With room for five, the Encore should accommodate most needs, and its turbocharged engine is both peppy and easy on fuel. The big question is, will buyers shell out the $25,000-35,000 premium when cars like the Kia Soul offer many of the same features for far less money? Buick doesn't seem to be worried. It views the Encore's key competitors as more upscale rides such as the Mini Countryman and Mazda CX-5.
Those who subscribe to the axiom "good things come in small packages" will have their beliefs validated by the 2014 Buick Encore. Front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), a long list of available equipment, and an inviting interior design make this Buick the Cadillac of compact SUVS.
There are plenty of eye-catching compact SUVs out there, many with more power under the hood than the Encore. If a low price or the need to tow is a must, it's best to cross the Encore off your list.
New options for 2014 include Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Side Blind Zone Alert, both of which are included in the Convenience package.
Driving Impressions As a crossover SUV with global aspirations, the 2014 Buick Encore platform has been tweaked and tuned for a world market that demands a firm suspension, precise steering and minimal...body roll. To this equation, Buick has added its own modifications giving the Encore a ride better aligned with American tastes, but without sacrificing any of the car's handling or cornering ability. A stiff frame and advanced sound deadening technology result in a cabin well isolated from the road noise typically generated by rushing wind and the Encore's big 18-inch wheel/tire combo. As for caveats, the Encore's 1.4-liter EcoTec engine 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 (AWD)
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 interior of the 2014 Buick Encore shows significant thought went into both its design and detail, with the same upscale ambiance found in Buick's larger sedans and SUVs. The Encore's interior is further complemented by an even more sophisticated variation on the Quiet Tuning theme. Whether rendered in cloth and leatherette or available leather, the cabin offers room for five with a 60/40 split rear bench that accommodates two average-sized adults plus a kid in the center spot. A 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
From its signature Buick waterfall grille and faux portholes to the painted lower body panels, the Encore for 2014 puts a 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 and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, 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 for 2014, 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 some 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 2014 Buick Encore starts right around $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 close to $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. To make your best deal on a new 2014 Buick Encore, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their car.
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."
9 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Superman on Tuesday, March 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,444overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price and a pleasure to drive."
Cons: "I do miss a wider arm rest in between the seats."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the car I was looking for luxury and dependability. The warranty is great and it stands out on the road. If I had to do it all over I would do it again. I need to get more miles on to make this statement stick."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By BobN on Tuesday, March 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Empty-nester special"
Cons: "2 golf bags without folding the rear seats, please"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I'm retired. With age, my criteria have evolved. I no longer even want neck-snapping power (like my dear, departed Alfa Romeo... sniff). Now I want ease of entry/exit, and silence! And comfort, of course. Good ride, good seats, and all the creature comforts. We have had the car for five months, and have yet to carry anyone in the back seat, so I would have preferred a bit less rear seat room and a bit more trunk space -- two golf bags, please!! I literally have no criticism of this car. It is smooth and quiet. We have done eight-hour days without distress. Still... would someone please tell me why the passenger seat does not have an inboard armrest? And why the seat-back inclination is not electric... but the lumbar support is?? Gotta have a little bit of wackiness!"
9 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By CHI to LAX on Friday, March 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,055overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price; great add-ons; fun to drive"
Cons: "no a/c seats; a little slow on pick up"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Profile: 28 y/o female; professional. I recently purchased this car after trading in my 2011 BMW328i x drive. I started seeing ads for the Buick Encore in late 2013 and was interested. I wanted an SUV so we looked at the Encore, the Audi Q5 and the BMW x3 and x1. I couldn't come to terms with paying almost double for the Audi or BMW seeing with what I could get with the Encore. I test drove the Encore and was very happy with the handling and interior. The car looks small from the outside but the inside is surprisingly roomy! I ended up getting the Encore Premium with all the bells and whistles except for AWD. Since my husband and I were in the midst of moving from Chicago to LA, I figured AWD wasn't necessary anymore. The value and quality are top notch. It handles easily, is quiet and is quite stylish. The nav and entertainment is really easy to use. The Bose speakers are really nice too! I highly recommend this car."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Softball Jack on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great SUV for the senior crowd,just the right size"
Cons: "tight with back seats put down,no tailgate remote"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Easy to get in and out of.Wife has no trouble sliding in and out of seat,she has bad arthritis.No need for running board. This SUV is only 14'6" long so it is easy to park and drive.Has premium package and feels very expansive inside but was priced moderate to other SUV's in its class.The gas mileage was 25 around town and 32 on highway. If you went over 75 on highway your gas milage went way down . The 4 cyl.engine and the 6 speed tran. didn't help at that speed. My recommendation would be to get a 6 cyl. I would also say to keep On Star as it is a big help to anybody looking for anything in areas you are not familiar with.It also tells you how the SUV is running and if the tires have the right amount of air in them. Well worth the money. The only thing I can find wrong is the tailgate is not remote.My wife needs a electric cart to get around in and I can lift the cart into the back cargo space and it fits just right.But it would have been helpful if the tailgate went up and down by itself. I am in my 70's and I have had a lot of cars in my life time but this SUV has to rate at the top for all things my wife and I need now. I would say this is a great SUV for two people ."
11 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Jimbo on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Lack of remote hatchback control makes life difficult for a short person. Bad oversight on Buick's part. Driver seat uncomfortable regardless of available settings. Additional fuel capacity would have been appreciated as well.Overall a reasonably acceptable vehicle for what it is despite the no-brainers."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful