The Truth About Cars » buick encore http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:44:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » buick encore http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Buick Will Likely Offer Diesel Verano, Considering More Powerful Encore http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/buick-will-likely-offer-diesel-verano-considering-more-powerful-encore/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/buick-will-likely-offer-diesel-verano-considering-more-powerful-encore/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 11:30:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=630930       Chevrolet will not be the sole brand in GM’s stable to offer a diesel passenger car. According to reports, Buick is next up for a diesel engine. It’s not known which Buick would get an oil burner but the likely candidate is the Verano, which shares a platform with Chevy’s Cruze, which […]

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Chevrolet will not be the sole brand in GM’s stable to offer a diesel passenger car. According to reports, Buick is next up for a diesel engine. It’s not known which Buick would get an oil burner but the likely candidate is the Verano, which shares a platform with Chevy’s Cruze, which is now available with a four cylinder turbo diesel in the U.S. The Opel Astra, even more closely related to the Verano, already offers a 1.9 liter CTDI diesel in Europe.

The European companies that Buick sees at its competitors are increasing the number of their vehicles offered in the U.S. with diesel power as more consumers look for better fuel economy.

While Buick is looking of ways to improve the fuel economy of the Verano with a diesel, the brand is considering options for what will likely be a more powerful of the Encore. While the company sold more than 3,200 of the small crossovers in September, according to GM sources the primary reason why people who had shopped the Encore didn’t buy it was because of a lack of power. The only available engine in the Encore is GM’s  1.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine that puts out 138 horsepower. The GM Ecotec 2.0 and 2.4 liter engines used in other Buick models won’t fit in the Encore’s engine compartment so GM will likely use their new 1.6 liter four.

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Buick Encore Pleasantly Surprised GM, Dealers As Demand Far Higher Than Analysts’ Predictions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/buick-encore-pleasantly-surprised-gm-dealers-as-demand-far-higher-than-analysts-predictions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/buick-encore-pleasantly-surprised-gm-dealers-as-demand-far-higher-than-analysts-predictions/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 11:30:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498405 When the Buick Encore compact crossover was introduced, some questioned if it was the right vehicle for the brand, but apparently GM underestimated initial demand for the Encore.   When the car was introduced in January, dealers report to Automotive News that demand was “red hot”, but subsequent shipments of the little CUV from GM […]

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When the Buick Encore compact crossover was introduced, some questioned if it was the right vehicle for the brand, but apparently GM underestimated initial demand for the Encore.

 

When the car was introduced in January, dealers report to Automotive News that demand was “red hot”, but subsequent shipments of the little CUV from GM Korea slowed as the Encore competed for production slots with its Opel Mokka sibling whose sales have been strong in Europe.  The supply issue was made worse when Encores were kept portside in New Jersey waiting for “a retrofit”. Currently, dealers report now having a sufficient supply after production has increased.

For their part, Buick says that tight supply is solely due to sales that were “triple or quadruple” GM’s projected sales in recent months. GM says that dealers now have an adequate supply but some say demand still “far exceeds” current supply.

Previous to the Encore, Buick’s most recent success has been the compact Verano, and the Encore’s sales of just over 12,000 units in its first six months was better than the Verano’s performance in its first six months on sale. They sold another 3,000 or so units in July so the Encore is already on track to exceed analysts’ predictions of between 13,600 and 18,500 annual sales. It’s already surpassed the lower figure and is likely well surpass even the most optimistic predictions as well. GM isn’t the only one who underestimated the Encore’s demand.

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Hyundai Next To Enter The Small Crossover Party? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/hyundai-next-to-enter-the-small-crossover-party/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/hyundai-next-to-enter-the-small-crossover-party/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 14:45:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495565 For all of Hyundai’s successes in Europe, it is conspicuously absent in perhaps the lone major growth segment on the continent; small crossovers. We’re not talking “small” in the sense of the Hyundai Tucson either. Think more along the lines of the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Ford EcoSport and the Dacia Duster. Even […]

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For all of Hyundai’s successes in Europe, it is conspicuously absent in perhaps the lone major growth segment on the continent; small crossovers. We’re not talking “small” in the sense of the Hyundai Tucson either. Think more along the lines of the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Ford EcoSport and the Dacia Duster. Even premium brands are getting into the fold, with the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA vying for market share.

It would only make sense that Hyundai would be whipping something up to compete in that space, and this was only confirmed by Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, who told Edmunds

“I think it is something that we have to look at,” Krafcik said. “We don’t have any plans. (But) it does seem like there is a lot of action in stuff below RAV4- and Tucson-sized vehicles. A new segment is emerging.”

Krafcik is certainly correct about the emergence of a segment that barely existed in the United States prior to the arrival of the Buick Encore. Sure, the Suzuki SX4 existed, but it was basically irrelevant in the broader context of the market. The Encore has had a relatively stable time on the market so far – inventories suddenly shot up this month to 72 days, but prior to that, they were firmly in the 30 day range. Sales have been in the 2,000-3,000 month ballpark, a respectable figure for a very niche vehicle.

Small cars have traditionally been less than popular in America, but when wrapped in crossover packaging, it may prove more palatable to Americans. In world markets, these cars have been astoundingly popular for different reasons. While small cars are the norm over there, Europeans tend to like the higher driving position without sacrificing the small size required for their tight urban spaces. In the BRIC countries, the SUV-aesthetics are considered a premium feature over regular small cars. Either way, it looks like we’ll be getting a few more of these products in the near future – Hyundai included.

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Jeep Consolidates Patriot/Compass Starting In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/jeep-consolidates-patriotcompass-starting-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/jeep-consolidates-patriotcompass-starting-in-2014/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 15:19:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494066 Buyers hankering for a more macho alternative to the Buick Encore won’t have to wait too long for something to fill that void. According to Edmunds, an all-new Jeep, similar in size to the Encore, will debut next year. The Jeep Compass and Patroit will both die in 2014 to make room for a B-segment Jeep […]

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Buyers hankering for a more macho alternative to the Buick Encore won’t have to wait too long for something to fill that void. According to Edmunds, an all-new Jeep, similar in size to the Encore, will debut next year.

The Jeep Compass and Patroit will both die in 2014 to make room for a B-segment Jeep built in Italy using a Fiat platform. The most likely donor will be the Small Wide architecture being used for the Fiat 500L, which has provisions for an all-wheel drive system built in to it. It’s a safe bet that it will be very similar to the Fiat 500X (above). Jeep’s Mike Manley cited global markets as the driving force behind this product

“The weight of that market today is outside North America, predominately Europe,” said Manley. “It is growing in China. I think when we launch our SUV here, you are going to see quite significant growth in that segment in the U.S.”

As Manley notes, the small SUV segment is explosive in world markets. Most of the examples sold are two-wheel drive car based vehicles with zero off-road capability, but Europeans couldn’t care less. That means the whole “Trail Rated” business won’t be an issue in Europe, but the Jeep faithful here may have something to say about that.

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Buick Encore Moving Off The Lots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/buick-encore-moving-off-the-lots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/buick-encore-moving-off-the-lots/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 17:08:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485609 I admit that upon first viewing the Buick Encore, I was repulsed by its goofy proportions and the poor fit and finish on the interior of multiple examples (yes, they were production examples, not hastily slapped together pre-production cars). But the market is what makes the winners and losers in the end, and the baby Buick […]

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I admit that upon first viewing the Buick Encore, I was repulsed by its goofy proportions and the poor fit and finish on the interior of multiple examples (yes, they were production examples, not hastily slapped together pre-production cars). But the market is what makes the winners and losers in the end, and the baby Buick is putting up some solid numbers.

Cars.com reports that Encores took just 14 days to turn in March, well below the industry average of 50 days, and a segment average of 44 days. Despite my dislike of the Encore’s looks, it is an interesting value proposition for many people; a compact, fuel-efficient, premium SUV-like vehicle. There really is nothing like it in the USA, though we may see a Europe-style expansion of that segment if the Encore continues to succeed. In Canada, the Chevrolet Trax, which is the Encore’s platform-mate, is being billed as the “City-sized SUV”, an interesting marketing message in a country where urban centers are densely populated and gas prices are high, but the desire for SUVs, trucks and other vehicles with a high seating position is still strong.

I often like to crow about how the market proves that enthusiasts taste in cars is a fringe segment of the automotive landscape – but with the Encore, I got a taste of my own medicine. At least for now.

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Review: 2013 Buick Encore (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-buick-encore-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-buick-encore-video/#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 15:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480264 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 […]

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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.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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.

2013 Buick Encore 2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore-004 2013 Buick Encore-005 2013 Buick Encore-006 2013 Buick Encore-007 2013 Buick Encore-008 2013 Buick Encore, Infotainmane, Buick Intellilink, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore-010 2013 Buick Encore-011 2013 Buick Encore-012 2013 Buick Encore-013 2013 Buick Encore-014 2013 Buick Encore-015 2013 Buick Encore-016 2013 Buick Encore-017 2013 Buick Encore-018 2013 Buick Encore, Engine, 1.4L Direct-Injection Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore-020 2013 Buick Encore, Instrument Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore, Interior, Instrument Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore-023 2013 Buick Encore-024 2013 Buick Encore-025 2013 Buick Encore, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore-027 2013 Buick Encore-028 2013 Buick Encore-029 2013 Buick Encore, Interior, Driver's Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Buick Encore-031 2013 Buick Encore-032 2013 Buick Encore-033 2013 Buick Encore-034 2013 Buick Encore-035 2013 Buick Encore-036 2013 Buick Encore-037 2013 Buick Encore-038 2013 Buick Encore-039 2013 Buick Encore Rear Seats Folded, Front Passenger Seat Folded, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Chevrolet’s Mini Crossover Is Making Trax To The Great White North http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/chevrolets-mini-crossover-is-making-trax-to-the-great-white-north/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/chevrolets-mini-crossover-is-making-trax-to-the-great-white-north/#comments Mon, 14 May 2012 19:04:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444451 As TTAC’s official reviewer of all things “emerging market cast-offs sent to Canada”, I’ll be busy again in Q4 2012, when I get my hands on a Chevrolet Trax. While General Motors American arm said that “…because of the strong position of the Equinox, there are no plans to introduce the Trax in the U.S. […]

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As TTAC’s official reviewer of all things “emerging market cast-offs sent to Canada”, I’ll be busy again in Q4 2012, when I get my hands on a Chevrolet Trax.

While General Motors American arm said that “…because of the strong position of the Equinox, there are no plans to introduce the Trax in the U.S. market…”, the Trax is a no brainer for Canada. And isn’t it so much more attractive than the gawky, pencil-eraser-proportioned Encore? I’m personally interested to see how different the interior is from the Buick and Opel version.

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Buick Encore May Get Chevrolet Variant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/buick-encore-may-get-chevrolet-variant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/buick-encore-may-get-chevrolet-variant/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2012 15:16:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436889 The “made for China” Buick Encore won’t be the last gawky micro-crossover put out by General Motors. In addition to the Encore and the Opel Mokka, it looks like Chevrolet will join the party too – perhaps what should have happened right from the start.  Reconciling the notion of a strange mini-hatch-cum-SUV is difficult in […]

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The “made for China” Buick Encore won’t be the last gawky micro-crossover put out by General Motors. In addition to the Encore and the Opel Mokka, it looks like Chevrolet will join the party too – perhaps what should have happened right from the start.

 Reconciling the notion of a strange mini-hatch-cum-SUV is difficult in the context of the Buick brand (at least on our shores) but as a Chevrolet, it makes much more sense. As these patent drawings from French outlet “L’Automobile” show, the Chevrolet version could be almost a baby Equinox, rather than just a bloated Sonic.

Yes, we know that our roads don’t need another crossover, let alone a small one, but for GM’s brand positioning outside the USA, a Chevrolet version of the more upmarket Opel Mokka makes a lot of sense. Chevrolet is being positioned as GM’s entry-level brand elsewhere, so a “world market” version of the car, rather than the more regionally focused Mokka and Encore, seems like a good fit.

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A Dozen NAIAS Takeaways From Michael Karesh http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/2012-naias-a-dozen-quick-observations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/2012-naias-a-dozen-quick-observations/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2012 17:53:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=426562 With all of the leaks, it’s not so easy to be surprised at NAIAS. But I managed to learn a thing or two by attending. My top dozen takeaways: 1. Compared to a Lamborghini, a Ferrari seems…normal. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve never even sat in these cars before. The view forward from […]

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With all of the leaks, it’s not so easy to be surprised at NAIAS. But I managed to learn a thing or two by attending. My top dozen takeaways:

1. Compared to a Lamborghini, a Ferrari seems…normal. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve never even sat in these cars before. The view forward from the driver’s seat of any Lambo is shockingly awful. I have a much easier time visualizing myself behind the wheel of the Ferrari FF, where the windshield design actually appears to have had forward visibility as a priority. Similarly, when behind the wheel of the Rolls-Royce you’re clearly looking down upon the common folk, while the Bentley comes across as a normal car, just lavishly furnished. I guess it’s a matter of whether you’re buying a car to make a statement or to drive (or be driven in).

2. The Subaru BRZ has a surprisingly nice interior, with open sight lines, supportive seats, and quality materials. The interior in the FR-S is very similar, but I wasn’t able to sit in the Scion and, from what I’ve read, it won’t be available with the Subaru’s up-level faux suede trim. How did the joint venture sports car end up with a nicer interior than you’ll find elsewhere in either partner’s lineup?

3. Lexus doesn’t have a clue. If you have to give a prepared speech to explicitly inform the press that you’re “exciting and dynamic,” then you’re not.

4. Chevrolet tries harder, but also doesn’t have a clue. The brand introduced two concepts based on “really getting to know Gen Y well.” Gen Y said it wanted functionality. Chevrolet responded with a pair of coupes, suggesting that GM continues to project its own preferences onto its target markets. Beyond their inherent functional limitations, both concepts were roundly panned on aesthetic grounds, one for being nothing new, the other for insufficient coherence.

5. I’m not Gen Y, but Chevrolet might yet become my best friend. I actually liked one of the concepts, the CODE 130R. Not because it’s attractive, and not because it’s a coupe. With three kids, I have absolutely no use for a coupe. But because it suggests that GM might actually offer an affordably-priced compact rear-wheel-drive car. Add a second set of doors, and perhaps a hatch as well, and I’d be very interested.

6. In another 30 years, Chevrolet might reintroduce the Cavalier. Or even the Aveo. After all, Dodge is bringing back the Dart, which old folks remember as a POS. To their credit, Dodge has packed the car full of features not often found in a mainstream compact, including reconfigurable LCD instruments, four-way power lumbar adjustments, and black leather with red perforations.

7. Honda, or at least Acura, might have finally rediscovered the plot. The semi-premium branch introduced a couple of cars that were pleasant to look at, and perhaps even a lot of fun to drive. The company’s turnaround doesn’t appear to have come soon enough to save the redesigned RDX (and across the aisle the Accord concept was also well short on wow value), but the Civic-based (if ill-named) ILX looks good. Perhaps it will fill the spot vacated a decade ago by the Integra? The new NSX also looks fantastic.

8. Acura is applying for U.S. citizenship. The brand will now be based in the U.S. The new NSX will be engineered in California and assembled in Ohio. An exotic from Ohio?

9. Pros and cons of the new Fusion. Biggest downside surprise: the car doesn’t look as good as I expected. The bodysides lack the fluidity of the Jags and Astons the car emulates. Why rake the windshield and backlight so dramatically, then make the bodysides so lean and stiff? Biggest upside surprise: despite the sweeping roofline, the back seat is very roomy and the most comfortable I’ve experienced in a mainstream midsize sedan. A nearly perfect height off the floor, seatback angle, cushion size, and shape. Don’t think rear seats sell cars? Check out VW’s sales.

10. The Buick Encore has a surprising amount of interior room for a 168.5-inch-long vehicle (a foot shorter than an Acura RDX). Adults will find sufficient space and comfortable seats in both rows. What the driver won’t find: sufficient power. Unless the Encore is packed with as much aluminum and magnesium as the ATS, and consequently tips the scales south of 3,000 pounds, the Sonic’s 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four will provide little joy. The Encore’s exterior design isn’t the most appealing, with proportions that recall the Rendezvous and odd little black plastic trim pieces on the rear pillars.

11. Cadillac, on only its third try in thirty years, might have finally matched, even beaten, the Bavarians at their own game. Unlike most other recent GM cars, which have been a couple hundred pounds overweight, the new ATS will check in below the competition. The ATS’s driving position is very similar to that in the C-Class, providing an excellent view forward, and better than the new 3, where you’re buried behind a towering instrument cluster. The engineering team is clearly fanatical about the car, especially how it steers and handles. If it handles half as well as they claim, I’m gonna want one. Especially if the wagon they’re not denying is offered in the U.S. with a manual.

12. Lincoln’s sales are low…by choice. Or so marketing VP Jim Farley would like us to believe. Lincoln dealers’ relatively low sales will enable them to provide their customers with more personalized service, compared to the “big box” luxury car retailers from across the oceans.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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OMG! The Buick Encore Killed The GMC Granite! You Bastards! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/omg-the-buick-encore-killed-the-gmc-granite-you-bastards/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/omg-the-buick-encore-killed-the-gmc-granite-you-bastards/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2012 21:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425623 While hit rapper Drake may favor Range Rovers as his ride of choice, the may have been talking about the new Buick Encore when he rapped on his hit song “Headlines” “You gon hype me up and make me catch a body like that”. The Buick Encore, barely unveiled just 48 hours ago, has generated […]

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While hit rapper Drake may favor Range Rovers as his ride of choice, the may have been talking about the new Buick Encore when he rapped on his hit song “Headlines” You gon hype me up and make me catch a body like that”. The Buick Encore, barely unveiled just 48 hours ago, has generated lots of hype at TTAC, and according to Automotive News, has already “bodied” a future GM product – the GMC Granite.

The Granite never got past the concept car stage, but plans were set for GMC to bring the car into production using the same underpinnings as the Chevrolet Cruze. The concept had suicide doors and a re-configurable cabin, although those likely wouldn’t have made it to production, lest GM invest substantially in lots of new tooling.

Buick’s Encore seems to have thrown a wrench into the Granite’s plans. Why bother selling the Granite and Encore side-by-side in GMC-Buick showrooms? Furthermore, what kind of brand equity does GMC have with the Granite’s target demographic of (here we go again) young, urban buyers.

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Buick Encore 75 Percent Revealed Thanks To Infuriating Internet Publicity Campaign http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/buick-encore-75-percent-revealed-thanks-to-infuriating-internet-publicity-campaign/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/buick-encore-75-percent-revealed-thanks-to-infuriating-internet-publicity-campaign/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2012 17:26:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424200 It wasn’t our intention to inundate you with Buick stories, but sometimes the improbable occurs. Buick has been slowly revealing their new Encore crossover via their Facebook page, and we’ve now been treated to 3 out of 4 photos – enough to discern what the vehicle really looks like (pretty close to what Ed’s photo […]

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It wasn’t our intention to inundate you with Buick stories, but sometimes the improbable occurs. Buick has been slowly revealing their new Encore crossover via their Facebook page, and we’ve now been treated to 3 out of 4 photos – enough to discern what the vehicle really looks like (pretty close to what Ed’s photo revealed).

Based on the Sonic platform, the diminutive Encore frankly looks goofy. Where this figures into Buick’s North American product lineup is anyone’s guess. It’s too small to have any appeal as a premium vehicle in America (would a rapper or reality TV star flaunt that thing? Absolutely not). An educated guess would deduce that the Encore was developed with China in mind, and American sales are a bit of an afterthought.

Regional implications aside, the Encore’s reveal campaign follows the annoying trend of car makers slowly revealing their products online via a set of teaser photos. Blogs love them because the “slow burn” allows them to post a stream of photos which help capitalize on the click-based advertising revenue model, and car makers get a “long tail” of publicity for their product. Sometimes the campaigns are agonizingly long (see: Toyota FT-86) to the point where cynicism-induced burnout occurs, other times they are shorter, like with the Encore. Not that a Buick mini-CUV could muster up the enthusiasm needed to sustain a multi-year launch anyways.

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