By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.3
For style-conscious young buyers, as well as empty nesters looking to downsize but not compromise, Buick’s 2017 Encore compact SUV makes a tempting prospect. Although it shares the same platform as the Chevrolet Trax, Buick’s take on the 5-door SUV brings a decidedly upscale flavor more in line with the Mazda CX-3, Mini Countryman and Jeep Renegade Limited. Though it may be tight on interior space, the Encore delivers big in the areas of luxury, efficiency and high-tech. When equipped with the optional all-wheel drive (AWD), the Encore becomes a winter warrior ready to tackle Mother Nature’s worst. We think so much of the Encore we awarded it Best Compact Crossover in KBB’s 5-Year Cost to Own segment.
If you’re looking for a small, efficient SUV with year-round driving comfort, but you don’t want to sacrifice on style or frills, the 2017 Buick Encore compact SUV is bound to impress.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2017 the compact Buick Encore SUV receives freshened styling inside and out, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an updated gauge cluster with 4.2-inch Driver Information screen, keyless entry and push-button start, plus redesigned 18-inch wheels and some new paint colors.
While Buick’s 2017 Encore SUV does share many parts with other GM products, we would never accuse it of being a “parts-bin” car. Buick uses the best of...
... GM’s global design to its advantage, massaging the Encore’s European-derived suspension just enough to smooth it out without giving up agility, handling or stability. The tiny 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine does its best to deliver power when needed, but it struggles when the Encore’s passenger count exceeds two persons. All-wheel drive adds even more weight, although it also adds an added measure of security when driving in snow or rain. Things improve slightly with the more powerful engine offered on the Sport Touring and higher trims, but you’ll have to pay an extra $900 premium to get it. Regardless of engine choice, the Encore’s fuel economy is near best in class as are the interior’s fit, finish, equipment level and overall comfort.
QUIET TUNING WITH ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION
To keep the Encore’s cabin in line with Buick’s high standards, the company employs Active Noise Cancellation technology combined with ample insulation and Quiet Tuning engineering. By using the car’s speakers, Active Noise Cancellation sends out noise-canceling sound waves that help hush wind, road and engine noise.
“ACTIVE ON-DEMAND” ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Buick’s Active On-Demand all-wheel drive allows the 2017 Encore SUV to deliver maximum traction when it detects wheel slip or when starting from a standing stop. When driving conditions are normal, only the front wheels receive power resulting in improved fuel economy.
The interior of Buick’s compact Encore SUV shows significant thought went into both its design and detail. An 8-inch color touch screen moves from atop the dash to the center stack, while the larger gauge cluster includes a 4.2-inch driver-information screen. 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 newly designed winged grille and sculpted hood to the stylish new 18-inch alloy wheels, the Encore compact SUV for 2017 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 LED-accented projector-beam headlights and LED-infused taillights. Brushed-aluminum faux rear skidplates and an 18-inch wheel/tire fitment add a bit more aggressive flair to the overall mix.
The well-equipped Encore Preferred has air conditioning, Buick IntelliLink telematics with an 8.0-inch touch screen, a tilt/telescoping steering column, cruise control, a power driver’s seat, push-button start, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot and a rearview camera. The Sport Touring gains fog lights and a rear spoiler, while the Encore Preferred II adds dual-zone climate control, remote starting and fog lights and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The Encore Essence adds leather trim, heated front bucket seats/steering wheel, a power passenger seat and LED headlights. The top-line Encore Premium boasts Bose audio, front/rear park assist and Forward Collision Alert/Lane Departure Warning.
Largely prepackaged within its trim hierarchy, Buick’s 2017 Encore does offer several individual extras. All but the base and Preferred trims can be fitted with the more powerful 153-horsepower engine. Other options offered include 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.
Every version of the Buick Encore compact-crossover SUV for 2017, whether front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), shares the same basic powertrain, although higher trims can be upgraded with 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 upgraded). 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 (base, Preferred)
138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850-4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/33 mpg (FWD), 26/31 mpg (AWD)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Opt. Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence and Premium)
153 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (FWD), 24/30 mpg (AWD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2017 Buick Encore starts around $24,000. Moving up the line, the Encore Preferred opens around $25,300, the Sport Touring at $26,500, the Preferred II at $27,800, the Essence around $30,000 and finally the Premium at just below $31,400. AWD 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 and low 5-Year Cost to Own. The Encore’s resale values are better than the Fiat 500L, on par with the Chevrolet Trax but still below the Mini Cooper Countryman, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade and Kia Soul. To make your best deal on a 2017 Buick Encore, check our Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.