By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.4
Buick’s compact Encore crossover SUV for 2016 charts new territory for the luxury automaker, one that hopes to lure in younger, style-conscious buyers. Based on the same platform hosting the Chevrolet Trax, the 5-door Buick Encore brings an upscale vibe that puts it in the same league as the Mini Countryman, Mazda CX-3 and Fiat 500L. Comfortable, efficient and fun to drive, what the Encore lacks in interior space it more than makes up for in personality and capability, especially when outfitted with AWD. Named Best Compact Crossover in KBB’s 5-Year Cost to Own segment for 2015, the Encore has more than its fair share of admirers, even if its $25-35K price range places it well above the Kia Soul or Jeep Renegade.
Just because it’s little doesn’t mean the 2016 Encore compact SUV is any less a Buick. From its bold exterior to its impressive list of standard and available features, the Encore is one well-rounded (and proven) SUV.
If front-wheel drive (FWD) is more than sufficient, there are a number of equally cool but less expensive alternatives. The Jeep Renegade offers a standard turbo engine and 6-speed manual, while a loaded Kia Soul tops out close to the where the Encore’s pricing begins.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016 the Buick Encore gains a new Sport Touring trim featuring a 153-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and unique exterior styling ques.
Sharing its underpinnings with a number of GM global products doesn’t lessen the 2016 Buick Encore’s appeal. Buick has massaged the Encore’s European suspension roots to create a ride more...
... in keeping with its own brand, but without losing any of that fun-to-drive factor so admired by the rest of the world. The standard 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine delivers peppy performance, but can feel bogged down with more than two passengers onboard. The same is true when all-wheel drive is added. The more powerful version in the Sport Touring trim is much more desirable. Regardless of which engine you choose, fuel economy is near best in class. Inside, Buick has focused on creating a quiet cabin uncommon in this class, and the front seats are surprisingly comfortable and supportive, even for people with longer legs.
QUIET TUNING WITH ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION
Quiet Tuning engineering and ample insulation are backed up by Buick’s Active Noise Cancellation technology to ensure the ultimate in cabin isolation. ANC works by sending sound-canceling waves through the car’s speakers, canceling out unwanted noise.
“ACTIVE ON-DEMAND” ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
When the weather gets bad, Buick’s Active On-Demand AWD system is there to see you through. The system automatically engages when the wheels begin to slip or when the vehicle comes to a complete stop. Once traction is regained at the front wheels, the AWD disengages, helping to maximize fuel economy.
The interior of the 2016 Buick Encore SUV 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.
From its signature Buick waterfall grille and faux portholes to the painted lower body panels, the Encore compact SUV for 2016 puts a contemporary spin on each of these elements to create a package that’s skewed toward 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 skidplates and an 18-inch wheel/tire fitment add a bit more aggressive flair to the overall mix.
The well-equipped base Encore has air conditioning, Buick IntelliLink telematics with a 7.0-inch touch screen, a tilt/telescoping steering column, cruise control, a power driver’s seat, satellite radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot and a rearview camera. The Encore Convenience trim adds dual-zone climate control, remote starting and fog lights and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, while the Encore Leather trim brings 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. The Sport Touring gains a more powerful engine and unique exterior styling.
Largely prepackaged within its base/Convenience/Sport Touring/Leather/Premium hierarchy, Buick’s 2016 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 compact-crossover SUV for 2016, whether FWD or AWD, shares the same basic powertrain, although the Sport Touring adds direct-injection technology for an added 15 horsepower. The engine is GM’s familiar 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec 4-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque (153 horsepower/177 lb-ft in the Sport Touring). 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. 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: 28/34 mpg (FWD), 26/32 mpg (AWD)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Sport Touring)
153 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (FWD), 23/30 mpg (AWD)
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2016 Buick Encore starts right around $25,000. Moving up the line, the Encore Convenience opens around $27,300, the Encore Sport Touring at $28,275 and the Leather close to $29,250. The Encore Premium commences just below $31,000. All-wheel drive on any version will add $1,500, and a fully loaded top-line Encore will hit the street close to $35,000. Although not the lowest priced among competitors, the Encore does become a far more compelling value when you factor in its extensive roster of standard features, low 5-Year Cost to Own, and good resale value, not to mention potential savings in fuel costs. To make your best deal on a new 2016 Buick Encore, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.