By on April 1, 2013

Buick’s been on a roll this year, their sales are up and their owner demographics are younger than they have been in recent memory. The cynic in my says that’s because half their clientele died of old age, but it has more to do with their product portfolio. Say what? Yep, it’s true, the brand I wrote off for dead last decade is targeting younger buyers with designs imported from Europe and finding sales success. The Verano turbo shattered my preconceptions, but can Buick do it again? A brown Encore arrived one rainy morning to see if it was possible.

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Exterior

The Encore isn’t new, but neither is it an American rehash of a tired Euro model. Instead, it is “badge engineering” 21st century style. When I was a kid you knew a new Buick was coming when Chevy or Oldsmobile announced a new product. You also knew what to expect: the same sheetmetal with a Buick logo on the grille and some padded velour thrones. 30 years later Buick is up to the same old game with an important twist: Buick takes Opel models from Europe. Consequently you won’t find a brother-from-another-mother running around with a Chevy logo.

Like its sister-ship, the Opel Mokka, the Encore is a small crossover/hatchback closely related to GM’s other small car offerings. Euro origins are obvious when you park the Encore in an American parking spot, this Buick is tiny. The Encore’s tall profile further accentuates the Encore’s 168-inch overall length, which is surprisingly 6-inches longer than a MINI Countryman. My usual panel of passengers were mixed in their opinion of the styling, I found it slightly cartoonish, in a bubbly and cute sort of way. I kept resisting the impulse to smile every time I walked out to the car, but then again I’ve been told my style sense is not to be trusted. (Seriously Sajeev, what’s wrong with a sports coat over a Hawaiian shirt?) My only complaint on the outside, and this is a big one for me, are the trademark “Ventiports” which seem to be growing like a disease. In addition to getting larger, they have migrated from the fenders (where you only had to see them on the outside) to the hood where they are now visible behind the wheel as well.

Interior

Buick’s reinvention has focused on value pricing and interior quality. The latter is something new for Buick, and something that has impressed me the most about Buick’s latest vehicles. The Encore isn’t a terribly expensive crossover starting at $24,950 and ending at $31,110 for a full-loaded AWD model. Despite the low starting price, the cabin makes extensive use of soft touch plastics lending a more premium feel to the cabin than vehicles like the MINI Countryman, Acura TSX or Lexus CT. Speaking of MINI, the Countryman, (like the rest of the MINI lineup) is a mixture of trickle-down BMW technology, great switchgear, high-style, cheesy plastics and chintzy headliners. Of course MINI’s biggest asset is brand perception while Buick’s brand is more of a liability in some demographics. That’s really a shame because the Encore has not only a quality feel but a very uniform feel as well. While MINI’s cabins are full of highs and lows, everything in the Encore is consistently a notch above the rabble. Equipping the Contryman and Encore as closely as possible reveals the Encore is about $1,500 cheaper once you add to the MINI the features standard on the Encore. Comparing the top-trim of the Encore to the MINI the difference grows to $3,800 in the Encore’s favor. Want AWD? The difference grows by about three-grand.

It seems journalists have a genetic condition that causes us to love brown interiors. The trouble with most manufacturer’s attempts at “thinking outside the black” however is they go half-way. They give you brown seats and some brown trim on the dash, but they leave out the carpets, button banks, etc. Not so with the Encore. GM took the extra step to color-match the Encore’s interior which makes the transformation look well-executed instead of half-assed. I should point out that our Facebook readers didn’t feel the same sort of brown-love as I did, but they are of course wrong. (Sorry guys.)

The Encore may be small, but the interior is spacious thanks to the tall profile, stubby nose and upright seats. Taller folks will have no problems getting into or out of the front or rear seats thanks to large door openings and a low step-in height. I grabbed a few willing tall people for lunch and successfully (and comfortably) took two 6’5″ passengers, one 6’2 gentleman and myself (6′) on a 50 minute trek to the prefect burger joint without a single complaint.

Because the Encore shares seat frames with GM sedans, there are a few compromises. The lack of a power recline mechanism seems odd, especially considering the 2-positon memory seat found in our tester. Using the sale seat frames and rails as a sedan or coupé meant creating some unusual “platforms” in the floor stamping so the seats could be mounted high to get an SUV-like seating position. Consequently the rear footwells might be a problem for big-footed passengers on long trips. A manual front passenger seat is standard, but most models on dealer lots have the optional power seat

Four adults can travel in comfort in the Encore, along with four large carry-on roller bags in the back thanks to a cargo cubby that holds 18.8 cubes with the seats in place. Just don’t push your luck with a 5th passenger unless the trio in the rear are skinny folk, the Encore is a narrow vehicle. If you’re a skier or love box furniture from IKEA, the Encore’s front passenger seat folds flat allowing you to put long, wide items all the way from the dashboard to the rear hatch.

Infotainment and Gadgets

The Encore uses the same standard 7-inch “IntelliLink” infotainment system I praised in the Buick Verano. There’s just one problem, it isn’t exactly the same. Instead of positioning the LCD within arm’s reach, Buick located it in a “pod” on the dash. While the location keeps your eyes closer to the road, it makes the screen look smaller and it means it’s too far away to touch. Logically because of this Buick removed the touchscreen feature and that’s what I find vexing. The same software I found so intuitive and easy to use with a touchscreen made me tear my hair out when entering an address via an on-screen keyboard and the control knob in the dash.

Thankfully I didn’t need to use the keyboard often and the rest of the system is still one of the best infotainment units on the market at any price. The graphics are pleasing to the eye, its responsive and the menus are logical and intuitive. The system also sports one of the best iPhone/USB/Media voice command interfaces available. Compared to the Ford/Lincoln systems, the voice is natural sounding. Compared to the Toyota/Lexus systems, IntelliLink handles large media libraries with ease rather than turning off certain voice commands if you exceed a certain library size. I’d like to compare it to Cadillac’s CUE but I’m trying to forget that experience.

As if Buick’s hushed cabin wasn’t enough, even the base $24,950 Encore models use active noise cancelling technology by Bose. All Encores also get XM satellite radio, Bluetooth audio streaming/speakerphone and a backup camera. Stepping up to the $25,760 “convenience package” adds dual-zone climate control, remote start and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Leather will set you back $27,460 and brings with it heated seats, a power passenger seat, heated steering wheel and 2 memory positions for the driver’s throne. The $28,940 Encore “Premium” brings rain sense wipers, park assist, collision warning and lane departure warning. The $800 sunroof, $795 navigation system and $595 Bose premium audio system are standalone options on all trims. The collision and lane departure systems are worth skipping in my book since they are warning-only systems and not combination warning and prevention as found in other vehicles. Unless you want the rain sensing wipers and parking assist, spend the money on AWD, navigation or the excellent Bose speakers.

Drivetrain
The Encore uses the same 1.4L four-cylinder engine as the Chevy Sonic and Cruze. Producing 138 HP at 4,900 RPM this mill isn’t targeted at speed addicts. On the bright side, thanks to a turbocharger and some direct-injection magic, the engine manages 148 lb-ft of twist from 1,850-4,900RPM.

GM wisely mated the 1.4L engine to their “small” car 6-speed transaxle which features a low 16.17:1 effective first gear (including the 3.53:1 final drive) which helps make the Encore feel more sprightly in the stop-light races. A tall 2.65:1 effective top gear ratio is what allows the Encore to deliver fuel economy numbers of 25/33/28 (City/Highway/Combined) and 23/30/26 when equipped with the $1,500 optional AWD system. During our week with the Encore we averaged an impressive 32.1 MPG over 862 miles of mixed driving, 0-60 tests, photo shoot idling and my mountain commute.

The day the Encore arrived I needed to take a road trip to Sacramento (100 miles away) so I piled a few day’s worth of supplies in the Encore and hit the road. The Encore devoured highway miles, but not in the way I had expected. The small crossover’s cabin is eerily quiet, the driver’s seat is comfortable and upright but the suspension isn’t marshmallowy soft like my father’s Buick. This meant I changed course and decided to take the long way (you can’t get very excited about Sacramento anyway) through some of my favorite California coastal roads.

My opinion of the diminutive engine changed constantly during my week with the Encore. In the city the low-end torque provided by the turbo and the low first gear make easy work of 0-40 MPH traffic and the Encore effortlessly zipped into narrow gaps on busy expressways. Thanks to the way the throttle is mapped the engine doesn’t feel out of breath cruising on the highway, until you need to pass someone as getting from 60 to 80 MPH takes a Prius-like 8 seconds. Load the Encore up with two people and some luggage and forward progress is noticeably stunted in all situations. However, every time I wished for more power I glanced down at my fuel economy and was reminded that more power consumes more gasoline.

On the coastal switchbacks in California’s mountainous redwood forests, the Encore is back in its element thanks to a low 1st gear, moderately low 2nd gear and a well-tuned suspension. Let’s go over that statement again. A Buick that is “in its element on tight mountain roads.” Never thought you’d hear that did you? Neither did I. The Encore’s relatively low center of gravity, 215/55R18 rubber and tight turning radius make [relative] mince meat of tight curves. Let me be clear, the Encore is still down on power, but I have always said I prefer the slower, better handling vehicle to the vehicle that’s only fast in a straight line. The Encore’s suspension handled broken pavement with such composure I was surprised to find it still uses ye olde torsion-beam suspension in the rear. Could the Encore have what it takes to become Buick’s first hot hatch? I hope GM decides to put the Verano’s 2.0L turbo under the hood so we can find out.

It’s right about now that I realized I had the love that dare not speak its name. Could I have fallen for the charms of a Buick? Had I suddenly aged 30 years without knowing it? That is the only real problem I found with the Encore: brand perception. In many minds, people need a new car and their first thought is “I’ll pop over to the Buick dealer” are the same people in the market for a new mobility scooter. If Buick keeps producing products like the Encore however that may change.

Back in the Encore’s native habitat (the Taco Bell drive-thru or the parking garage at the mall), engine power complaints once again disappear. With a ground clearance of 6.2 inches, the Encore is about average for the modern crop of crossovers meaning you won’t catch your bumper cover on parking lot “headstones” and only tall curbs will cause you worry. The well-appointed interior will make you feel special and the value pricing will keep your accountant happy.

 

Hit it

  • High quality interior for a vehicle in this price range.
  • Buick continues to “think outside the black.”
  • The second Buick in 2 months I would actually buy. Seriously.

Quit it

  • Top level Encore trims still have a manual front seat recline mechanism.
  • Collision warning this late in the game without auto braking seems silly.
  • Buick’s reputation for elderly clientele.

 

Buick provides the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.27 Seconds

0-60: 9.6 Seconds (9.1 with overboost)

1/4 Mile: 17 Seconds at 80 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 32.1MPG over 862 miles.

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93 Comments on “Review: 2013 Buick Encore (Video)...”


  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I have no problem with brown interiors, but this particular shade of lighter brown is nauseating.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Three ventiports on each side? What kind of V6 does it have under the hood?

    Also, the mini-window near the A-pillar indicates a major DLO fail.

  • avatar
    Easton

    I appreciate many people are content with slow, underpowered cars, but I just cannot see how anybody can get beyond that styling. That thing is just plain fugly. Interior is a nice break from the all-too-common charcoal or beige limitations imposed by most manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      I concede styling is only subjective and this type of vehicle is attractive to a very select demographic of middle class, urban females.

    • 0 avatar
      amca

      This is one of those cars that looks much better in person than i photographs. Some cars are just like that.
      I was surprised at the Chicago Auto show to see that I liked it when from all the photos ‘d seen I thought the thing looked like a potato on wheels.
      So withhold judgment until you can actually see one.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    If you can get more room for the same $$, then this thing is D.O.A. In this class vehicle, interior space is crucial.

  • avatar

    For one thing it does not have a V6 under the hood, it has a three engines available 2.4 L 4 a 2.0 turbo and a 2.01 4 tubro, just waiting for CR to do a full reviews of this vehicle,I am not a big GM Fan having had several of there earlier models that gave me a lot of trouble even when I gave them lots tlc!

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’m liking the interior, other than the color-matched dash being a bit much. Very similar to the Chestnut Brown in my BMW. It looks hard to see out of to the rear – is it?

    Buick is certainly on a roll.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I’ve seen these in the wild, and I’m forced to ask if the car is proportioned so oddly so as to accomodate the pointy ears and curly toed shoes of the targeted demographic. The cargo area certinly looks accomdating for transporting large volumes of coookies to and from the Keebler Tree.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    This seems like more of a ford escape competitor than a mini one, also Fiat is bringing over the 500L. The type who would buy those 2 probably wouldn’t buy a buick. It seems like a nice vehicle, but I wouldn’t buy it based on exterior styling.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Encore has been heavily, HEAVILY marketed during CBS/TBS/TNT coverage of March Madness as a fresh, compact, nimble alternative to traditionally lumbering luxury SUVs, depicted as literal dinosaurs in the ad. They wisely chose not to try to fit Shaq (or even Peyton Manning) inside the thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Nice to hear this thing has Opel bloodlines; having watched a ton of March Madness (Go Cuse) I was convinced this vehicle was the resurrection of the Pontiac Vibe. Might have to toss my walker in the Grand Marquis and go check one out!

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      You’re right – Shaq’s knees are up to his chin when he’s sitting in the LaCrosse!

    • 0 avatar
      swilliams41

      Like Shaq practically lying down in the LaCrosse talking about what a roomy car it is. If he looks to the right he would be talking to the right rear passenger. The seat is so reclined. I like how they use camera angles to conceal this.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Ugh this looks like another case of GM shoving a motor in a car with no regard to how its going to be worked on. I highly doubt they moved the oil filters position from where it is in the Cruze.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Can’t comment on the location of the filter, but the engine bay is MASSIVE (don’t let the photos deceive your sense of scale). I was shocked at how much room there was on all sides. Not that having a “serviceable” engine bay matters much these days – the average buyer is not going to be wrenching it themselves.

      Maybe because it was a car show the one I saw didn’t have a huge plastic cover hiding everything, like most modern cars seem to have today.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yes! If there’s one thing that annoys me about GM cars, it’s the fact that they put ugly plastic covers over the engine blocks. I was particularly disappointed at the one in the 3.6L CTS, and even the one in our family-friend’s supercharged STS-V. Rolls-Royce (whose cars demand the ultimate in noise-cancellation and effortlessness) seems to get by with minimal engine covers, so (if not the buzzy four-cylinders), I see no reason why at least the V6 and V8 models have to be covered in monolithic plastic shields…

  • avatar
    Onus

    I saw the opel version in Russia when i was there at the mall. Quite nice, and for once the buick model looks better than the opel one.

    It’s really a tall little cuv or lifted car or whatever it is.

    Still would probably get a cruze eco with the 6 speed and same engine before i got this. But, if i needed a cuv i would check this out.

  • avatar
    kars

    for what is supposedly a premium sort of product, it is seriously under powered – needs something in the 200 hp range for a base engine

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I’m sorry but turning this little pug of a cute ute into a Buick to try and satisfy MPG requirements just doesn’t gel with me. The brown interior if done right is just fine. Black tan and gray are really getting old and boring. I would rather this be a Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      There already is a Chevrolet version called the Trax sold in Canada.

      Coupled with the Chevrolet Orlando available only in the
      Big Land as well, GM has applied Google-like targeted marketing skills to win over the parsimonious Canadian motorist. Uh, never seen either one on an actual road, I wonder why.

  • avatar
    mulled whine

    I was interested enough to actually poke my head into a Buick dealership (never done THAT before…) This was back in January, and they didn’t have any.

    I really think they have done a great job on the interior, and the noise cancelling technology sounds impressive.

    Then I look at the outside.

    I have never been a fan of the Buick corporate oval grill. It just looks bad on every vehicle they make.

    Finally, The shutlines are all over the place. None of them line up with anything – look at the rear door angle, and the bumper joining line. Look at the fake trim at the side of the rear hatch, masquerading as glass. The shutline of the rear door frame does’nt match the window line, and on and on ..

    (I hope it is a success though)

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Looks cheap to me, Daewoo designed? I think the biggest competitor this will have, in terms of likely market target, is the CRV. Yes, I understand the Honda is larger but the price isn’t. This, like the Mini, is a case of paying alot and getting alittle.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      If customers only cared about maximum size per dollar, everyone would buy an F150. This car’s biggest rivals will be the Juke and Countryman.

  • avatar
    threeer

    51% Korean + 18% Chinese=100% PASS for me (yes, I know…the math doesn’t quite add up). Calling this thing a Buick is a crime, and yes…I am painfully aware that China is Buick’s biggest market. Also understand that making sure my next car is about as “American” as it can be will be slightly less difficult than solving world hunger, but I just can’t bring myself around to even remotely considering this. Maybe most American CUV shoppers will care not a whif that this is mostly Pacific Rim in origin, but we all have our lines that we attempt not to cross.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    I’ve been following this CUV since it was announced over a year ago. I’ve been surprised by the polarity of opinion. Everyone has something to say about it. The Encore really seems to draw out the whole spectrum of comments.

  • avatar
    Petra

    “Consequently you won’t find a brother-from-another-mother running around with a Chevy logo.”

    …Unless you live in Canada! ;)

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    I love brown interiors, but my word that brown interior is fugly. Here’s a suggestion, guys: DON’T USE FOUR DIFFERNT INTERIOR COLORS (I’m counting the wood, here)

    Would it be too hard to not have a car who’s interior is the brown equivalent of a Golf Harlequin?

  • avatar
    mktimes5

    Can You fit a large lab in the trunk?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I would comment on the styling if IO weren’t so distracted by the panel gaps.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    What’s that you say, the smallest Buick CUV is now smaller than the smallest Chevrolet CUV? Yes it DOES make sense, let’s explain why.

    Opposite day.

    Additionally, you can tell it’s foreign and that it wasn’t designed to be a Buick. It’s too small, too cutesy, and too offensively overstyled.

    ++ on the brown buttons though.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “During our week with the Encore we averaged an impressive 32.1 MPG over 862 miles of mixed driving, 0-60 tests, photo shoot idling and my mountain commute.”

    That is very impressive, and it is greater than the EPA’s 30 HIGHWAY MPG! Are you sure you got the math correct?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    This Encore did much better:
    http://encarsglobe.com/photo/im/renault-encore/03/

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My wife (a current 2005 Vibe owner) loves it. Like “OMG WTF IS THAT?!?!?!” Loves it.

    Her only hesitation is her plan was that she wanted something BIGGER than the Vibe for her next vehicle.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    Buick is really on a roll, this car seems very competitive for its segment especially in pricing.

    But as a Buick guy, this doesn’t feel quite right to me. Its ugly as sin, underpowered like a tractor….and also ugly.

    I’d be perfectly ok if this vehicle was never introduced into the Buick lineup, but it seems of good quality and Buick should definitely sell quite a few, which is yet another step in the right direction for my favorite marque.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Ouch! Really hard on the eyes.

    I don’t see how the domestic auto market could possibly need another vehicle of this class.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I saw it at the NYIAS, sat in it, laughed at it. I think I prefer the Renault Encore.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I saw one of these at my local auto show, I only looked at it because I had already seen all the other GM products and saw that it was the only vehicle that had no crowd of people, or anyone at all for that matter, so I walked over to it, the first thing I noticed was how nice the interior was, I was highly impressed there…..
    Although I believe that author was honest in saying several big guys could and did fit, I myself at 6,2 190 lbs was much to scared I wouldn’t be able to get out if I were to get in, it was uncomfortably small looking from the outside, it reminded of a better looking although still fugly juke. I didn’t actually know that it wasn’t a concept vehicle, but rather something already available.
    Not my cup of tea but those that like that type and can fit would probably be very happy.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Completely agree on observations on the interior. Got to sit in a loaded brown leather equipped one at a car show and I was really shocked at how roomy the interior was compared to exterior dimensions and how nice the interior was in general.

    It really looks better in person (what is it with a number of cars that don’t seem to photograph well).

    I didn’t get to drive so no observations.

    To this comment…

    …I hope GM decides to put the Verano’s 2.0L turbo under the hood so we can find out…

    When I looked under the hood I noticed that the 1.4L was sitting in a massive cavern of space (which was also a surprise given how small the Encore is) and that was my first thought. GM could totally slap the 2.0L turbo four in here, give it say 220 to 225 HP of twist and give up a couple of MPG in the process.

    I’m eyeballing my future “3 to 5 year old” used car purchase right now to replace the commuter – after reading your review it appears I need some seat time in the Encore, and to see how its 2 and 3 year quality stats look like down the road (no pun intended)

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Come on children. This is Opel. Do I have to tell you how long this going to last?
    I’ll pass this one on. You play with it but don’t cry when it breaks.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    “Look, Daddy…. a egg cawr! Won’t it bweak?”

  • avatar
    ajla

    If this is what the mainstream new car buyer wants these days then I am so far out of the norm now that it’s kind of frightening.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This should compete well against the CRV, RAV4, Escapes, and I don’t know what else small CUV. Service should be better at your Buick dealer.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Unfortunately it couldn’t avoid getting its mandatory minimum of tacky, utterly unconvincing plastiwood. Ecch.

  • avatar
    V16

    Buick Encore…Maybe
    Mazda CX-5…..Definitely

    • 0 avatar
      Tifighter

      The same comparison was rolling around in my head watching the video. Hey Alex, you say it drives and handles better than you expect. So are we talking CX5 good? Just looking for some context.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    My mom is talking about upgrading from her ’98 LeSabre. This looks perfect. If a nicely finished vehicle can manage a semi-spirited drive, quiet ride, hold four 6′+ men without complaint, have decent cargo volume, and yield 32 mpg, what is not to like?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      There is nothing not to like about the fact that your mom will last longer than this car.
      People are still drinking GMs cool aid. Opel makes bottom quality cars. What do you expect from the company in constant turmoil. Constant strikes, etc. GM dresses up Opels as Buicks and here we go. I want to hear what buyers will sing in 3-4 years. Chevy Cruze is a problem. How could it be not? Opel-Daewoo product, do you expect it to be good? Just like Fiat-Chrysler. Neither makes good cars but together somehow it has to come with great products. We heard of revolutions at these companies all along only to find that the product that was supposed to be break-through in reality is a hoax. Just like Ford right now with all its euro models. They look nice and drive nice but they run reliability issues aplenty.
      Keep on buying Buicks people. In the end, there have to be some losers otherwise there wouldn’t be room for rest. My friend bought Enclave. I drove it. What a junk! 2nd and 3rd rows have no comfort, steering is terrible, road manners non existent. I don say Enclave means all Buicks are bad but yes, Opels are not reliable even thought Enclave is not Opel.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        How is this thing “Opel” any more than it is “Buick?” It is made up of 51% Korean components and another 18% Chinese. Not really sure that your condemnation of Opel is warranted here.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      It’s smaller than you think, and the 6′ men wouldn’t have much extra space. It’s a very nice car inside, jut not with room to spare.

      If you ask me, I drive passengers about 10% of the time, so they can be uncomfortable after an hour.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Yes, the Buick Encore uses the same basic Gamma-II platform as the Chevy Sonic, but a non-car-enthusiast would be hard-pressed to find a relationship between the two. From what I can tell, significant modifications and upgrades were made to the Buick (Opel).

    I saw an Encore at the local car show–pretty much identical to your tester–and was very impressed with the amount of space it had. My complaints, though, are the interior color (which comes off as being far too orange) and the amount of hard-plastic found inside.

    Seriously, I think that Lincoln needs to skip that forthcoming Escape-based crossover and get into this semi-premium subcompact CUV arena, which as of now only contains the Countryman, 500L and Encore. If Lincoln could make such a car and have it be noticeably nicer than, say, the Focus five-door, but at a good price (read: not more than $37K loaded) and with excellent fuel-economy, I think they could garner a lot of new customers.

  • avatar
    dundurrbay

    I didn’t think the LUJ (1.4T) engine had DI. I thought its an iron block with MPFI, correct me if I’m wrong. I really do like this vehicle though, I wouldn’t buy one, but it’d be perfect for someone like my aunt who lives in downtown Calgary. The interior is quite nice and the switchgear looks high-quality.. and if you actually averaged 32.5 mpg that is very impressive.. were you driving the FWD model? Either way, a good effort from Buick – and up in Canada we get the Trax as well. Interested to see how that car compares to this one and if the premium for the Buick is worth it, as they have the same engine.

  • avatar
    tikki50

    looks like They are selling over 3K for march.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Alex, I second the questions about whether the tested model was AWD or not…I’m assuming not? was that fuel economy on regular? How does the packaging of that interior space compare with a vehicle like a CX-5 or Escape? Is this about the same size inside, or a shade smaller?

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Nice, but like most Buicks, overconfident pricing? The Regal Turbo I saw at the Auto Show had a sticker price in excess of 40 grand. Similarly paying almost 30 grand for this seems like too much

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Judging prices by a top trim level is a bad idea. Kia sells a $35,000 Optima.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Agree to an extent. Buick doesn’t really do ‘base’ models anymore.

      My point is that the fully loaded Encores will probably be less than 20% of the build mix for those that like the vehicle and want more bells and whistles. Another 20% will be the $24k-$26k range. Most will transact around $26-$28k.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I sat in one at NAIAS (both front seat and back), and was very impressed by the amount of space and the level of luxury for this size and price. My wife is the target demographic, and it’s time to pry the Vue out of her hands. I’ll make sure she drives an Encore.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Those fake vents are more popular than you think. In my area (Hartford, CT) I see them tacked onto all sorts of vehicles. They look ridiculous of course, but SO MANY people like them, manufacturers would be fools to ignore the detail – especially Buick who at least has a history of fender vents.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Yes, a lot of people here in California buy fake plasti-vents at Vato Zone and put them on a variety of different cars. Pickups/SUVs are common, with Tahoes probably being the most common individual model, but I’ve also seen them on things like a 3rd owner Lexus ES. They look cheesy, and I don’t understand what the draw is.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The Encore has been recalled for steering wheel detachment, showing that GM learned its lesson when they had to recall the Cruze for steering wheel detachment. Oh, wait a minute. I guess that’s not what it shows at all!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Buick Encore, in just a little over one-half of a year, was ranked the highest in category and was awarded tops for a new release.

      http://highpointgm.vannyorkgmautopark.com/394/2013-buick-encore-j-d-power-initial-quality-study/

      The recall was for 144 models with heated steering wheel.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Sorry all for the late reply, I have been out of the country without internet access for two weeks. Yes, the model tested was the FWD model and we did get excellent mileage during a long week. The week was slightly highway heavier than normal, but not by enough to alter the numbers in any large way. Fuel used was regular 87 octane.

  • avatar
    JShu

    I learned to drive in a brown Buick Electra. From there it was a yellow Vespa in college, and living in Germany in the 1970’s a yellow Opel Manta. Now that the family has down-sized to just two of us and my ’02 Ford Taurus Wagon is closing in on 200,000 miles, I have allowed myself the pleasure/task of choosing a vehicle for me by me. Considerations have been clear from the start: a cross-range of social, environmental, luxury comfort, handling, milage around 30MPG, visibility, reliability, descent cargo space, warranty, out the door price of $32,000 or under, and back to BROWN. Choices have been overwhelming at times. In December 2012 Encore was only a whisper and nowhere to be seen. At the Boston Auto Show, the Encore was on a pedestal and nobody was allowed to touch it except the 6’ show-woman. I sat in everything on the show floor that day.
    My wish list immediately ruled out Lexus, Mercedes, Volvo, BMW, Acura, and VW in the price range. Size-wise Mini, Vibe, Fit, and the like were instantly out. Luxury ruled out KIA Soul,and a host of like sized smallish SUVs.
    So what did I test drive as I followed the progress of the Encore? Toyota Prius V for environmental concerns, Honda CRV for the most cargo and comfort for the buck, Toyota Venza for comfort and looks, not price and mileage, Subaru Outback for reliability, handling and cargo space, Hyundai Santa Fe for comfort and cargo but found it too massive for my combo needs of flitting around the city and small road trips, Ford Escape for curiosity, although after 18 years of Econoline 150’s and 11 years of the Taurus, I want a change from Ford, and something with more weather protection than my Yamaha Vstar 650.
    So if the production has to switch gears from Korea back to USA, I’ll be happy. The dealership I ordered from 8 weeks ago just call to say the Espresso Brown Premium Encore with Saddle Interior is “in transit”. I anticipate hours of enjoyable driving, easy parking without scraping curb stones and a refreshing interior color away from black or beige.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    OMG, the deep-set gauges on the dash remind me very much of the ones in my ’65 Wildcat.

    Well done, Buick, well done.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I just averaged 39.3 mpg on one tankful for my commute. The car really has impressed. After 3,000 miles in the first few weeks of ownership I am really enjoying the Buick Encore AWD. The handling and braking are spot-on if a little over sensitive. Brakes were fade free and easy to modulate turning at the bottom big hills on a recent trip to PA. And this is coming from someone who loves sports cars with manual transmissions. The fuel economy exceeded EPA’s combined easily and best all highway with a mostly AC on high, housing a property hunt for 2,000 miles averaging 34 mpg which included allot of stopping and turning around.

    As Alex mentions the power delivery is deceiving and quite quick for normal driving. I got the base model with AWD and find it quite comfortable and roomy. The transmission for an automatic is one of the best I have driven and is very intuitive. I could actually live in this car. Most new cars to me always have something that needs tweaked or changed but this one is about the first one I have no problems with at all. Just for kicks I did order Trifecta’s ECU and TCU computer update but I have really yet to open her up.


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