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.
KBB Expert Ratings
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.