By on February 4, 2015

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Against all odds, the Buick Encore has managed to sell in fairly decent numbers. Despite looking like a four-wheeled rollerskate, Buick’s trucklet moved nearly 49,000 units in 2014, up from roughly 31,000 during its debut in 2013. Part of the Encore’s success must be attributed to the fact that it was the first to show up to the party. The small CUV craze is only just heating up now in America, and the Encore is arguably the premiere (in terms of chronology, not quality) premium entrant in the segment. Demand is strong enough that GM has expanded production to two plants (Mexico and Spain as well as the initial Korean location) and will import 50 percent more units versus last year.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why. The Encore is one of the worst cars I’ve driven in a long time.

Ok, to be fair, there is a case to made for an Encore – a flimsy one – but it does exist. According to Automotive News, the Encore is a hit with empty-nesters who are between the ages of 45 and 65 and looking to downsize. This is right in the sweet spot for Buick’s demographic, and the Encore lets buyers have the comfort of a CUV (the ride height, the ease of entry and exit) in a compact package that’s easy to park and maneuver. Seriously, it’s not half bad to steer around, owing to its Chevy Sonic roots.

The steering is light but responsive and the chassis seemed, dare I say it, agile, while providing a comfortable, utterly silent ride. The Buick version of MyLink isn’t bad either. Not as good as UConnect, but so much better than Cadillac’s CUE system, and right around the same level as the new MyFord Touch system. And that’s about it. And really, that’s probably all that the target buyer is looking for. From any other perspective. The rest of the car is an absolute mess.

The Encore could very well be GM’s ugliest car since the Aztek. It’s difficult to make a vehicle with the proportions of a roller skate look attractive, but the Buick-appropriate levels of chrome (including the wheels, grille and ventiports) make the car look like a four-wheeled approximation of an apple-shaped, post-rehab Liza Minelli sashaying in a sequined evening gown. Inside isn’t much better. The materials and surfaces deserve some credit, but GM’s approach to the center stack appears to be “stick all of the buttons, everywhere”.

In concept, this isn’t a bad idea. Older buyers are more likely to gravitate to tactile controls rather than complicated touch screens. In execution, it rarely works (Acura is also guilty of this on the last generation TL, for example), since there are so many functions on modern cars that a button-based user interface ends up looking cluttered and haphazard. In the Encore, they don’t feel very good either. For a $32,000 car, it’s not much better than what you’d find in a $14,000 Sonic, and no amount of faux-stitching on the dashboard panels can make up for that.

The Encore’s chassis and 1.4T engine are worthy of merit on their own, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. With a curb weight of 3200 lbs, 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft is simply not going to cut it – especially when the power is delivered by GM’s 6-speed automatic. This unit, which appears on a wide range of transverse-layout cars, is a wretched one. Shifts occur in what seem to be geological ages, and it only serves to exacerbate what should be “plain old underpowered” into a situation where 60 mph comes up in over 10 seconds. It’s not particularly smooth or conducive to outstanding fuel economy either. While the EPA rates the Encore AWD at 23/30/26 mpg city/highway/combined, you’ll end up hammering the gas to make any reasonable forward progress – about the worst thing you can do for a turbo engine. Replacing the transmission would be one of the best things GM can do for its entire lineup, and would go a long way to redeem the Encore. Not even a Trifecta Tune can solve this problem. It looks like GM is considering a larger engine as well.

As a crossover, the Encore doesn’t hold up particularly well either. At 18.8 cubic feet of cargo room (48.4 cubic feet with the seats down), it’s not particularly spacious. Honda’s HR-V has 24.3 feet of space for stuff with the seats up, and an additional 10 feet over the Encore when the seats are down. At best, the Encore is built for four. You can forget about stuffing an adult in the rear middle seat, and anybody over 6 feet is going to have a miserable time on anything approaching a long trip.

Our tester, a fully loaded AWD model, stickered at $32,000. That’s big money for a tiny crossover with a barely premium badge and equipment that is shared with lesser GM models. If I were to invoke the hyperbolic prose that journalists tend to fall back on, I’d question why anyone bought this car (particularly when there’s the Jetta Sportwagen blah blah blah). But I get it. Even though it’s not very good at doing anything particularly well, there’s a growing demographic of older, affluent buyers who want something with the ride height of a CUV and the footprint of a smaller car and the soft, quiet driving experience of a luxury car. The Encore fills that niche. When placed in the wider context of the automotive market, it starts to look silly.

 

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130 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Buick Encore...”


  • avatar
    geozinger

    Why is it “against all odds” that this car would sell? I think a better phrase may be “unlikely as it seems”… The odds were that GM (correctly) saw the need for a car like this. They bet on this subsegment growing and it paid off.

    I give them credit for identifying the need for such a vehicle in the USDM and actually being nearly first to market. Years ago they would have been 17th to market with an effort such as the Aztek. While it ain’t the prettiest thing on the road, recent fish-mouthed Lexus (Lexi? I never know) got nothing to brag about.

    Where are the J3’s entries in this market? Oh yeah, Honda finally has it’s Vezel (Weasel?) and the Nissan Juke is here, but doesn’t seem to be in the same market…

    • 0 avatar
      Speed3

      I think the sub-compact crossover market has blown up more than anybody anticipated.

      A lot of issues with the Encore are things that can be addressed in a mid-cycle refresh. New transmission, engine, interior trim, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      The increased production suggests that GM was as suprised as we were that it sold so well, but now that a lot of other players are populating the segment, it’s no surprise anymore.

      I think GM has had so many “moon shots” turn out to be busts, that when they stumble upon a modest but legitimate hit, their self-confidence is so low they’re not sure what to do.

      Most of the time, they do absolutely nothing. Take the Chevy Cruze. Had they kept improving it inside and out as the years have gone by, it could have been a 300K-a-year model for Chevy.

      Instead, they’ve been too conservative.

      The Encore was a wacky idea that just happened to be first. January sales certainly suggest it has staying power, but to maintain this level of success, the Encore must get better. It will need styling tweaks. The number of buttons lessened. The engine and fuel economy improved.

      Will Buick do any of this? Probably not.

    • 0 avatar
      Bing

      1st let me say his review is terrible, the biggest pc. of crap I ever read in a auto review. I have wanted a small suv for awhile, and thought of Kia Sportage, new Jeep Renegade, Mazda MX5, or even waiting for the new Honda HR-V and Fiat 500X to come out. 3 weeks ago I drove my new Buick Encore home. I got a Convenience Pkg. for 28005.00 rebates, and cash down my final price was 23805.00 Let me tell you at that price you get a lot for the money in a small easy to move package. For a single guy who likes a little utility, nice comfy ride, with some nice bells and whistles, and great gas mileage I couldn’t go wrong. Everyone that has seen it so far has really liked the styling. My only 2 things I haven’t been a big fan of is the infotainment system could stand to be a bit more user friendly while driving, and the center cubby needs to be bigger than a school kids pencil case. Though the under front passenger seat drawer is a nice touch. What I would say to anyone looking would be don’t listen to reviews, forget what you think about Buick, and go look at 1 for yourself. You will be pleasantly surprised. Whether or not you sign on the dotted line is all up to you. All I know is I have had an enjoyable 3 weeks in mine. Now if only it would get warm enough to get that moonroof open. =)

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Buick-appropriate levels of chrome (including the wheels, grille and ventiports) make the car look like a four-wheeled approximation of an apple-shaped, post-rehab Liza Minelli sashaying in a sequined evening gown.”

    (Spits coffee)

    Did you write anything else about the Encore after this?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      After I read that bit, I scrolled back up to look for the chromed ventiports, which I had not bothered to look for before. My eye of course went to the fender, and I thought HEY they aren’t even there on this one. But there a little higher, they resided. On the hood in a completely ridiculous place.

      Boo.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I dunno, I’ve always thought this is a good looking car, though ruined by chrome and small details like all buicks. It’s much better looking than the trax, and I’d probably say it’s one of the best looking vehicles gm sells, only because everything else is so ugly and this thing works visually. Of course I agree with everything else in this article, especially the underpowered and overpriced. Also didn’t the BMW X1 come out a while before the encore?

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      It’ll sell because people buy anything that gm pushes out, especially buicks. Just look at how many thousands of Rendezvouzes (now THAT’s an ugly vehicle) are still on the road.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “providing a comfortable, utterly silent ride.”

    That counts for a lot for many people.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      And especially for Buick buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I rented an Encore when I was in DC. I jumped in almost as a goof. I agree it looks odd.

      I ended up loving it.

      At least for one guy traveling in DC, tight traffic, it performed flawlessly. I probably found its sweet spot, and to be fair, there was no freeway driving. It was downtown traffic, a meeting, and back to the airport for my next flight. Heck, I didn’t even have luggage because my bags were forwarded to my ultimate destination.

      I found the Encore to be a well screwed together, easy to drive, spunky little thing. It burned so little fuel, I returned it to the rental lot “full” without having to add a drop of fuel.

      I travel a lot and rent a lot of cars. Not many stick in my head as being worth a crap, and fewer still give me the impression I’d want to own one. And yet, the Encore is one I would consider owning*

      *I’d want to spend a lot more time in one, in my typical driving environment.

      One great feature the Encore has that I wish all cars had, is the fold down passenger seat. It makes so much sense, opens up the cargo hold, and can’t be that hard to implement.

      I think if you can get past the awkward look, and the goofy chrome ventiports (really I don’t know who within Buick thinks these are a good idea, or stylish, but enough already), you’ll find a neat little vehicle.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    When I see one of these on the road, I always smile because the design appears to have been borrowed from a cartoon sketch. That said, give the people what they want. As Jimmy Buffett says “you never know what people will buy”.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    But if you fold the rear seats and the front passenger seat, the Encore has almost as much space as a CR-V with it’s rear seats folded! Plus you can Trifecta Tune the Encore! Then it will not only create gasoline, but it will also time travel.

  • avatar
    86er

    It ain’t a looker, that’s for sure, but then what is these days.

    I imagine this is not always a primary vehicle for the empty nest segment you cite in your review. They might have an Encore or god forbid, even a big sedan for highway trips and “the wife” uses this in the city.

    This vehicle is hitting a sweet spot of aforementioned demographics who aren’t going to be satisfied with a lowly Chevrolet.

    With those odds in its favour, it sells.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Older buyers are more likely to gravitate to tactile controls rather than complicated touch screens”

    From my experience, it’s older buyers that buy cars with touchscreens and such. Younger buyers just use their smartphone.

  • avatar
    cltwxguy

    “but GM’s approach to the center stack appears to be “stick all of the buttons, everywhere”.”

    Reminds me of Pontiacs in the 80’s and 90’s.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Surely you don’t mean Bonneville.

      http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/2284/1601/30708300018_large.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Pontiacs of this era look like the interior was designed by Playskool. So cheap and plasticy, even for the time.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          They really were. I don’t get why they felt the need for so many similar buttons, all in grey. Compared to a similar model, like the 88 LSS – they didn’t have this issue.

          http://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/oldsmobile/eighty-eight/1996/oem/1996_oldsmobile_eighty-eight_sedan_lss_i_oem_1_500.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I always think of dirty Pontiacs as having pet hair in them, and around all those buttons. I am not sure why.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            The last Olds 88’s had rather clean interiors for being GM products. Still very cheap and plasticky, but rather clean. Especially compared to the pictured Bonneville.

            Anyone miss having a graphics equalizer in the car,that isn’t an out and out audiophile?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @CoreyDL: What a find, that Bonneville photo – eeks.

        I can only imagine what it was like to get dirt down in the console buttons.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a dealer product highlight guide for the 2000 Bonneville and it literally has a column that reads:

      Pontiac Advantage – Bonneville – Acura TL – Lexus ES300 – BMW 525i
      Cabin HVAC Vents (Total): 10 – 6 – 8 – 8

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Pontiac was always very generous with their HVAC vents. They were round, and you could flip them around. Good feature.

        Clean Bonnevilles always fetch good money.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This would be a hilarious series to start here. Scanned copies of such brochures showing their ridiculous claims.

        Dealer Delusions

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        HAAAaaaaa!

        Reminds me of the Thomas L. Cooley Law School, which always ranked in the top 5 in the Thomas Brennen law school rankings (Thomas Brennen being the dean of Thomas L. Cooley Law School), based on such factors as “Library square footage.”

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      That is the exact same center stack as the Verano, and its actually extremely intuitive and nice to use. Its one of the features on the Verano that I haven’t soured on, because it works.

      • 0 avatar
        PJmacgee

        Yeah, I read the part about “all the buttons”, but that center stack looks fine to me. I’ll take buttons over touch screen any day and twice on Sunday.

        If you need to be reminded what button diarrhea looks like, check out a ’06-’09 Acura RL steering wheel…

        http://images.thecarconnection.com/lrg/2010-acura-rl-4-door-sedan-tech-cmbs-steering-wheel_100256326_l.jpg

  • avatar
    bryanska

    This is a “review” but not a balanced one.

    You implicitly say that for those who find the car suited to them, they can look forward to a quiet ride, capable handling, a good UI, and a package that’s easy to park.

    You find just two quantifiable faults with the car: the button experience and the powertrain.

    All other “faults” you mention are purely subjective and totally useless to anyone who likes the car. In other words, these other faults are chocolate and you like vanilla.

    These subjective criticisms may be valid if the car was a sales dud. But it isn’t. It’s a runaway success. Therefore those subjective criticisms don’t really hold much water other than “IMHO”.

    Whether GM can fix it in the face of new competition is a valid question.

    Note: I have bias. I like this car. I live in the city and don’t want a loud, stiff HRV or a fragile Fiat 500X. Yes, the Encore is underpowered but so is the Fit. I’m in my 30s, I like small cars, and I have a kid.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I think that Derek is just bitter because he predicted that the Encore would be an idiotic mistake in North America. I do agree with Derek that it’s too damn expensive at msrp.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        There is a nearby dealer with 3-4K off sticker so there is no excuse to pay full price on one of these. And I agree that it must hurt TTAC that any GM product out sells there expectations.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I agree. A small competent car. You cant criticize it for not being big (can only seat 4), and the worst you can say about it is it’s inoffensively styled. Agile but slow – hey, I’m a former Previa owner – I know slow, still never had a problem in the real world – and I have no doubt this is quicker.

      But it’s a tough crowd. I, all too often, mention what a great driver’s car the Kia Sportage is and the reply is- it’s too firm and not stable enough in a straight line.

      Pick your poison or go for utter mediocrity – the crv. A great car to rob a bank with – it’s invisible.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      The Honda Fit with automatic is also a 0-60 in 10 or more seconds slug but you will never ever hear anybody admit to that. No it’s a fun to drive zippy little car that can do no wrong despite having one of the absolute cheapest interiors I have sat in recently starting with the laughable attempt at carpeting.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        I didn’t find the interior to feel that cheap considering the Fit’s class, but yeah, that “carpet” is ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        I don’t have a Honda Fit, but one of my co-workers does, and the times I’ve ridden in it, it seemed to have plenty of zip. Let’s check the specs, Honda Fit 130HP, 2500lbs, the Buick, 138HP, 3200lbs. Seems like the Honda has a much better power to weight ratio, and probably a much better 0-60 time, since you are worried about such things.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      I was going to say much the same thing. The actual subjective merits of the car (which again, is flying off the lots) are under-emphasized, while the objective faults are over-emphasized.

      Not to mention $32K for a fully loaded Encore isn’t bad when you consider the average transaction price for light vehicles is $33,993.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Maybe it might make sense to have grandma review this one or someone who is the targeted demo, also it has been out a while , no mention if it has been reliable ?..

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      The average age of a new car buyer is 52.

      If someone who is 52 today had a kid when they were 30, that kid would be 22, and could thus have kids of their own.

      So really, one could say the average new car buyer is a grandparent, period.

      The average age of a new Buick buyer is 60, up there, but still five years from Social Security age, and way down from the 70s, where it was ten years ago.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    It’s a rip-off. For the same price, one can get a Ford Escape Titanium which is a better car in every conceivable way.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I to have a Buick “Encore” but of a different generation and that will be the encore presentation of my soon-to-be restored 1975 Riviera! The color is 1970s too, Verde Mist.
    It has room for five (has the rare console shifter), 455 V8, dependable GM transmission, and rear-wheel drive.
    Even better, the “entry fee” was only $305 at a Cars For Causes auction.

  • avatar

    …and Buick sells every unit they assemble. Meanwhile, ‘enthusiast’ pets like the FR-S and hi-po Volkswagens and non-CUV Acuras with SHHHHHHAAWWWWWD see month-after-month decline.

  • avatar
    udman

    I am actually in the targeted demographic for this car, and you know what, I rather like it. I remember seeing it on the floor during the press days at the NYIAS (Yes, I write for another site…) almost three years ago, and I thought it was a bold step for Buick to have a vehicle like this in their lineup. It seems the gamble paid off…

    Anyway, why do I like this car in the first place? Well, being a shade over 50-something I like and can appreciate a higher stance to get in and out of a vehicle (Physical events over the past couple of years means low riding Sports Cars are out of the picture). I looked at competitors like the Jeep Compass or Patriot (they are both sub-par with crappy interiors and dated styling), and the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA (Both are too low to be really good CUV’s) and I still like the Buick. The closest competitors currently available are the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tuscon, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, but I don’t think I’ll consider any of those models. I think the Juke is just plain weird. The VAG twins (Tiguan, Q3) may be nice, but I’ll never own (or lease) another VAG product.

    The CR-V, Rav-4, Escape, Equinox, Cherokee, MX-5, and Rogue are just a bit bigger, and in all reality, they all seem to be everywhere…

    • 0 avatar
      nrcote

      ===> CR-V, Rav-4, Escape, Equinox, Cherokee, MX-5, and Rogue
      ===> are just a bit bigger

      The MX-5? I know, I know, you meant the CX-5, it’s just a typo, but it made me smile. Really. I imagined myself sitting in my imaginary MX-5, all jacked up, with the top down, besides some CUV at a red light.

    • 0 avatar
      ErRoc

      Renegade might just be the answer!

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Think this might be the perfect car for my mom when her current ride finally bites it. My mom is nearing 80 and the Lexus name means nothing to her but Buick still does as we had a few (dad was a banker). Lives in coastal Carolina, only drives 5k a year, doesn’t need much power, easy to get in and out of, and technology would confuse her. Hatch design would let he bring bulky things home (God Bless her neighbors who carry them in for her). Looks like it would be easy to see out of. Only problem is she thinks of hatchbacks as cheap. Buick Verano was my choice for her prior to this.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Not a very good review, I’m left wondering what’s so bad about it that you wouldn’t buy it for the life of you, just not your type of vehicle, or purely styling issues? You go on to compliment it too? I think the real issue with all these mini cuvs is that they really don’t get much better milage than compact and midsized cuvs such as crv, Cherokee, and CX_5, while not costing much less, and having significantly less space. Having said that, I predict the the renegade and hrv will eat its lunch in sales. Buick is no longer viewed as premium badge over Jeep, Honda or Mazda, so thats not going to help it.

  • avatar
    Andy

    “Despite looking like a four-wheeled rollerskate…”

    As opposed to how many wheels on your roller skates?
    ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Andy

      Really though, I don’t hate this car. It seems to have hit its target audience perfectly. It’s “nice” and quiet and easy to live with. Probably too slow for me, but our moms need cars too. While $32K is not cheap, that is exactly in line with the average new car price I read in another article this morning. So, review the car in light of its intended use and it seems like a pretty good one.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        30K is the current average new car price these days. Most folks seldom pay sticker for these types of vehicles so 30 grand for one of these with a sticker of 32-33K doesn’t seem that out of line. I mean Ford is getting away with stickers of 62K on there 2015 F-150’s with a V6 engine and questionable long term reliability. And Ford is hardly a premium brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        “but our moms need cars too”

        This is a huge market completely neglected by the automotive press. There are lots of women “of a certain age” that are very well served by this vehicle, (and probably no small number of men). It sounds like Buick understood their customers and built a vehicle that fits their needs.

        Bravo.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          So you are saying we need a Golden Girls line of vehicles.

          -Or-

          How to recreate the Olds 88 LS.

          • 0 avatar
            Toad

            Absolutely. What better market to target? Older people generally:

            -have lots more disposable income than any other age group
            -kids are out of the (paid for) house
            -they tend to be loyal customers.
            -they have cash and/or good credit
            -are constantly being replenished

            What better large demographic is there for an automaker?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            These are true points, but at the same time:

            -Old peeps drive less, not many places to go.
            -Old peeps tend to keep their car too long, and don’t replace as often as makers like.
            -Old peeps only buy 1 item because they’re old, and the loyalty and good will dies with them shortly after.

            Also, if you market a car to young people, only old people buy it (see Scion). If you market a car to old people, nobody buys it (see Cadillac 1988-2004).

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            Corey, sales numbers negate your statement. Cadillac actually sold cars before the ‘new’ Cadillac came about. I don’t know what they are in business for now, but it isn’t to sell cars, clearly.

          • 0 avatar
            Toad

            When I said older, I meant 50+. And for every older person who “leaves” the market, somebody takes their place.

            That’s where the money is.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My coworker bought a new 13 Encore (FWD) in 2013, which was totalled 7 weeks later when he was hit by a dope-head. He promptly replaced it with a 14 Encore AWD.

    I like the looks, but the interior is very tight, and it’s very pricey.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    When automakers rate the cargo room of hatchbacks, apparently they are presuming that you fill the cargo area all the way up to the roof, cutting off your rearward visibility. Doing this prevents you from comparing the cargo room of a hatchback to that of a sedan. On the encore, 18 cu-ft of storage might really only be 8 if you don’t want to block the rear window. My C-Max is supposed to have 24.5 cu-ft of cargo space behind the rear seat. Less than half of that is usable if you want to be able to see.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      At least you have the option of using that ‘bonus’ cargo space if you really need it. That is the advantage of any hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      When you grow up driving tractors, trucks, and minivans and pickups full of cargo, you quickly learn that rear visibility is overrated. Or even needing anything besides your driver’s side mirror.

      Not that I’m bragging about my abilities here. I backed into plenty of things at a young age.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Ugly? Not compared to a CR-V, Rogue, RAV4, Tucson, Forester, Outlander…

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Had a chance to sit in one at the DC auto show, what a miserable car. And that one had a $35K sticker price. At $25K, I can see why someone would pay for a “premium” car like this. At $35K, no way. There are so many better options, and the HR-V and CX-3 will render this vehicle irrelevant.

    Somehow, the $25K Trax looks like an even worse proposition.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      ” There are so many better options, and the HR-V and CX-3 ”

      Aren’t they much louder and less smooth riding? Does that not count for anything in your mind? A CX-3 is 74dB and an Encore is 70dB at 70mph and 3 dB represents a doubling of sound intensity so a CX-3 is more than 2x as loud on the highway as the Buick.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        The level of quiet in the small cars from GM is quite astonishing. I’ve not driven the Encore yet, but I’ve put quite a few miles on some Sonics. The Sonic is waaayyy quieter than my Mazda 5, it’s nearly as quiet as my ’14 Odyssey EXL.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        A CX-3 is going to be far more livable and affordable. And as Gearhead77 points out, you can buy a Sonic or Verano if you want quiet. That’s why GM cars are so heavy. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Buick is a Daewoo badge job built in Korea. It’s hardly a premium vehicle. At the price they’re charging, there are better Korean vehicles for your money.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          I think you’re on to something there.

          An older woman I know, grandmother type, bought a new Verano last year and she was buoyant.

          Last month I saw here again and she had a new Malibu and I asked about the Verano. She said she hated the Buick because the steering wheel seemed to jump put of her hands when she hit potholes and it had many other issues.

          She loves her Malibu, a better car for the same money.

      • 0 avatar
        otaku

        Pretty sure it’s mentioned in the Book of Revelations that the end of days will be upon us when Honda finally manages to produce a quiet automobile.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      The Trax I saw two weeks ago at the Houston Auto Show was $31k. The HR-V is going to smear the Trax.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Checked out the Encore; a little too small; a little too slow. Got an Equinox instead., although it’s a little too big outside and a little small inside. (Up 34% y on y though). Know why so many Rendezvous are still around? I had one, loved it but traded it too soon. A near perfect combination of footprint and function. Pretty durable, too. Now, if they’d only modernized the drivetrain…….We got the very successful though bloated Enclave instead. Looking forward to the upcoming Envision.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    You want ugly lets start with the Nissan Juke or Joke as we all call it. It looks like somebody took a Pontiac Aztec and shrunk it down to Encore size. The Encore is hardly good looking but to call it the ugliest GM vehicle is a bit of a stretch and I agree it needs GM’s superior 1.6T and better transmission programming.

  • avatar
    carve

    “The Encore could very well be GM’s ugliest car since the Aztek”

    Hahaha- I clicked this review to leave exactly this comment, but it was already in the review! It looks like an egg, has the bones of a Korean penalty box, and one of the smallest, weakest engines currently available…all for a mere $32k. I can’t believe these sell at all; I’d take literally any CUV before this even if they were all the same price.

    • 0 avatar
      chiefmonkey

      Where did this 32K figure come from? The Encore has a base price of $24,000. Look, I’m not fanatical about the Buick Encore, but to complain about a car being overpriced when equipped with all the options is deceptive and silly. I doubt most people are buying the 32k Encore…

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Buick+Encore

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I think it’s drop-dead gorgeous and can’t wait until I buy one post-retirement – used, of course.

    Seriously, I don’t think it’s ugly at all, so Derek, I’m waiting for you to say something equally critical about an Asian vehicle from Toyota or Honda, etc.

    Of course I haven’t checked one out yet – perhaps at our upcoming auto show – then I may have more to say, maybe even agreeing with you. For now, you’ve just peaked my interest. I happen to like what GM has been doing lately for many of their vehicles.

  • avatar
    darex

    I’d rather see 100 of these driving around the city for every one, nasty Traverse. At least it’s sized appropriately for most people’s needs.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    My father in law has had mostly Buicks since I first met my wife over 14 years ago. Always got a deal, GM card,etc. He drove a lot for his employer (about 25k annually) and he’s not looking for an apex carving, quarter mile machine. But he does like to drive (his degree is in education, minor in drivers ed,but he never used it)

    It was always the Lesabre, followed by the Lucerne. When GM stopped building those, he was unhappy. The Lucerne was probably the best large Buick he ever owned in terms of being a decent all around car. He replaced it with an 2012 Impala, which he doesn’t like as much,especially as it nears 75k. I keep trying to steer him toward Toyota’s Buick, the Avalon, but it’s too much for his frugal side.

    My mother in law only cares if the car starts and goes. Her low mile (70k) 2004 Lesabre had reached the GM “critical mass” where all the cheap parts that take lots of labor to fix were starting to fail. She’s in her mid 60’s.

    When they first threw out the notion of shopping for a car for her, the Encore came immediately to mind. Call it what you want, but it’s a giant Rascal scooter, with Buick ventiports. The high seating position, the decent forward visibility (the rear is awful, but it has a camera and what new car has good rearward visibility?) and the small footprint makes it ideal for aging parents.

    The in-laws recently leased a 2014 FWD Encore and didn’t consider much else. 24 month lease, no charge maintenance, under $200 a month. My father in law declared that he doesn’t need to own a car anymore, just lease and be done with it.

    The mileage isn’t best in class, but it’s better than the old 3.8 in the Lesabre. The ride is probably quieter than the Lesabre and more controlled. It’s got airbags everywhere. And even if the interior quality isn’t Audi/VW or whatever you prefer for benchmark, it’s still worlds better than the 04 Lesabre. I’ve driven the cousin car, the Sonic, a few times and was fairly impressed, but I’ve not driven the Encore.

    At this price point ( base Encore FWD starting at 26k), I’m in a Golf, Jetta Sportwagen or GTI, maybe a Focus or even the Fiat Abarth. But I’m not an aging boomer with blue collar roots either. Buick has always meant “premium car” to them and apparently the Encore keeps that notion alive, fleeting or not.

    All I really know is that Mom loves her little Buick and so does my father in law. And I’m the favorite son in law. Wait…

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      The Lucerne was a terrible cynical attempt at a full sized Buick. Was it better than the 04 lesabre? Yes. The last lesabre were utter sh*t, even by Buick standards. Buick continually put out worse versions of their cars from the late 80s up through the bankruptcy. The 1993 park avenue spanks the Lucerne in materials and ride.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Why would you say the Lucerne was “cynical”? It was what it was – a big floatmobile. But it was far from bad to drive, or to own.

        And my ’03 LeSabre farts in your general direction (it’s actually a darn nice car).

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Mom has an 04, its worse in every way than the 97 it replaced, which was worse in every way than the 91 which replaced that one.

          Lucerne was a pos. It literally had the worst braking of any car as shown by testing, to the point it was dangerous, not to mention the bathtub interior and the ancient 4 speed auto paired with the 3800 models…you can read ttac reviews on it with a little searching. It was a much worse car than the park avenue.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            “The Lucerne certainly outclasses its clueless Park Avenue predecessor.”~ from Sajeev’s 2006 review of the CXS Lucerne.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I had limited experience with the P Ave, only as a car jockey for Enterprise. I even picked up a few new from the dealer around 2002. Even then, it was around the final years of the P Ave and I didn’t find it much more compelling than the Lesabre of the same vintage. It was a bit quieter and had a slightly better ride. But I still feel the Lucerne was a pretty good blending of the two (which was the point I believe)

        My father in law had a 96, 98, 2002, 2004 Lesabres, plus two Lucernes. While the Lucerne wasn’t the Park Ave, it was worlds better than any Lesabre I have experience with.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Park avenue peaked in 1993 or so, the ultras were pretty good too through 97, the second generation park ave, which came out in 1998, was worse than the first gen.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I can’t for the life of me imagine why any small car Buick buyer would choose this over the much better executed Verano.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Ride height, and you can put more bric-a-brac crap from Yankee Candle Village in it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You can put new shocks on the Verano and raise it up if need be.

        The thing about hatchbacks in general is this: sure with the enclosed trunk you have more cargo room vs a trunk, but when its filled up you can’t see out of the rear window. So for the three times a year you load the thing up is it worth it to have a hatchback?

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          First of all, few people in the Encore or Verano target group are going to raise their car. Wouldn’t a Verano with a raised suspension look just as strange (subjective) as the Encore?

          It’s not about filling the cargo space with stuff either. The hatchback provides space for oddly shaped objects or lower lift height for heavy things.

          A hatch is more versatile and if you prefer versatility in your car, a hatch is a good way to get it. I don’t have room for a truck and rarely the need for one. But between my Mazda 5 and our Odyssey, I’ve got nearly as much cargo capacity as I need. Anything more and I rent a truck or van.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx for the reply.

            Volvo is doing it with the S60, I can’t see it looking any less odd then when they do it with a feminized hatchback and call it an SUV.

            I hear you on the rental of truck/van etc when needed, the twice a year I need to move something larger than my car’s trunk I obtain another vehicle. Unless a person is just into them, I fail to see the need for a hatchback. I find it akin to everyone “having” to have a pickup and then “hauling air” 99.1% of the time.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            I hear your point on the S60 or the Subie SUS before that, but at least those are from the factory. Raising the suspension aftermarket is not something your average Buick person will be doing.

            Plus, if GM did it to the Verano and sold a hatch version, the Encore wouldn’t have any need to exist. Not that it’s stopped GM before…

            I had the same thoughts as you, 28-cars. Then I bought my 01 Focus ZX3 and save for my Altima, I’ve always had a wagon or hatchback. It’s true, you’re hauling air more often than not, but it does comes in useful more often than not. To each their own…

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          It’s much easier to roll out a sleeping bag and sleep in a hatchback vs a similarly sized sedan.

          I’m 6′ and can rack right out in the back of my hatch with the seats folded and my head/back on the flat, smooth, well-insulated load floor.

          Trying this in the 4-door version of the same car results in my head in a dark poorly-ventilated trunk, or my back on the comparatively hard and pokey seat frames, as well as a much smaller space laterally. No thanks.

          The only real value I see with a 3-box design is the security of an enclosed steel trunk, but I’m happy to trade that for a convenient hotel (hostel?) on wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      There’s this thing that old people are loath to do; it’s called stooping to get into a sedan. They don’t care as much for outward appearances because if they’re driving it they’re not gonna see it anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      It’s a hatchback, only it’s called a CUV. Way more practical body style than the Verano – it’s just that people won’t buy it if it’s called a “hatchback” but go crazy over the same vehicle as a “CUV”.

      I am thinking that the target demographic of this vehicle really doesn’t care what the enthusiast press thinks … and I am thinking that GM got it right with this one, regardless of what the journalists think.

      The close-cousin Chevy Trax is available if you are OK with this vehicle in general and don’t want the Buick’s gaudy styling.

      Many people who are in the target demographic, likely have fond memories of the 1970s and really don’t have a problem with gaudy styling.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Then why not a Verano hatch? Probably the biggest weakness of this vs Verano is the Verano’s superior motor. Based on the article it sounds like GM will be correcting this so this should close the gap.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “The Encore could very well be GM’s ugliest car since the Aztek.”

    Meaning that the Encore is ugly, or that GM hasn’t been putting out many ugly cars in the last 10 years?

    (I go with the latter)

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I’ve said it before in not so many words: I’d rather have a company make ugly-but-distinctive cars than inoffensive, chameleon boring vanilla cars. But that’s just me.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Almost all of them that I see are driven by women. Most look like they are in their 40’s plus. Buick has obviously struck a nerve in the market with the Encore.

  • avatar

    Our garage contains a C6 Z06, a MINI Cooper S, and now: a Buick Encore. We’ve had it since August, and just love driving it. It’s perfect for taking our German shepherd dogs places, we average 30’sh mpg in our mostly highway commuting. It’s comfortable, quiet, and nimble. I don’t have any quibbles with the transmission; it is smooth and seamless in our driving. I get that it isn’t a snappy shifter when in “full performance” mode. But then, for this vehicle, in our use, that isn’t very often.

    I have noticed that reviewers typically sample a “full boat” version of this vehicle, with a low-30’s price. I’d agree that it’s not too compelling at that price point. I’d offer that what we have, an Encore in the “Convenience” trim, FWD, provides a very nice trim level and nice features for about $27k USD. Typical GM incentives means this Encore can get out the door for 22-23k. Not that you can include this bargaining in your evaluation, but just to be aware that the purchase decisions on these often occur at a much lower price point than your test vehicle. And, at that level, they seem like a pretty good value.

  • avatar
    boogieman99

    An inoffensive and average car in every sense of the word. Having driven an Encore,I wouldn’t purchase one for myself, but can see why someone would. Probably the easiest vehicle to drive besides a Camry.

  • avatar

    GM should just desolve Buick and concentrate on further improving Cadillac.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    On the one hand, I am not at all surprised at this vehicles success. Keeps the slightly upwardly mobile from having to mix it up with the riff raff at a Chevy dealer, gives the SUV image without the size or fuel economy penalty.

    That being said, this is one of the most aesthetically offensive vehicles on the market today. We’ve had one through our rental fleet, and it’s the only car I truly wanted to look away from while washing it. The more details I saw of it the worse it looked. Blingtastic chrome, plastic body cladding that would embarass Pontiac, a weirdly proportioned interior, pathetic space…it is the ultimate image conscious poseur mobile. Again no surprise they sell well.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Derek, you should look at the Encore the same way prospective buyers would; by owning a Suzuki XL7 for two years.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    At the local auto show Friday night, we sat in a loaded Encore with a nearly $35k sticker and then immediately went and sat in an Audi Q3 that was approx $2k more (it was a Premium with Nav etc). I know the Q3 is slighty larger (we have the same-sized Tiguan) but who in their right mind would choose this Daewoo…I mean Buick…vs a Q3 or other far better choices???? The fact you see so many Encores is evidence than mindless zombies DO live among us…

  • avatar
    meza_wolf

    I love my 2013. It now has 15k miles on it and has been over Snoqualmie pass over 2 dozen times. Everywhere I go I get compliments on the looks of my car. I think who ever wrote this review needs a new place to work because last time I checked this was called The Truth About Cars

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