By on May 7, 2015

2015 Buick Encore

U.S. sales of the Buick Encore have increased, on a year-over-year basis, in each of the last 16 months. That streak includes these last five months, a period in which a more affordable twin of the Encore, the Chevrolet Trax, has also been generating meaningful U.S. sales activity.

Encore volume grew 31% in the five months preceding the Trax’s U.S. launch. Since the little Chevy’s arrival, not only has the Encore avoided a decline, the rate of its volume expansion has hardly slowed: Encore sales jumped 28% between the final month of 2014 and April 2015.

In fact, as General Motors attracted 7,477 sales with the less costly Trax in March and April, Buick reported the best month ever for the Encore in March and the second-best ever Encore performance in April, the latter being a slightly slower month for the overall auto industry.

5,650 Encore sales were reported by Buick in March; another 5,587 in April. Only once before – in March of last year – has Buick sold more than 5,000 Encores in a single month.

Encore Trax sales chartAs we reported back in March, the Encore, alone in its success at Buick, isn’t sufficiently powerful to overcome other losses at the brand. As Encore volume jumped 29% in April, for example, four other Buick nameplates combined for a 15% year-over-year decline. Encore included, Buick’s U.S. volume was still down 5% in April and 5% year-to-date. Even the Enclave, in a strong month for GM utilities and the Lambda platform (Traverse sales shot up 28%; Acadia sales jumped 40%), stumbled slightly with a 4% drop.

How strong a month? “April was GM’s best-ever month for crossover sales,” the company said in its release last Friday. Industry-wide utility vehicle sales were up 15% in April. GM’s nine crossover nameplates – Enclave, Encore, SRX, Equinox, Traverse, Trax, Acadia, Terrain, and the discontinued fleet-only Captiva Sport – increased their volume by 24% to 77,780 units, equal to 29% of the company’s total U.S. volume. (GM also sold 20,962 full-size SUVs.)

2015 Chevrolet Trax

The Trax and Encore aren’t a huge part of that production in the United States. Much talked about though the subcompact crossover segment continues to be, none of the contenders are huge volume generators. Yet. The group is expanding, and with the expansion of the group (Renegade, CX-3, HR-V, 500X), volume expands rapidly, as well. The Trax and Encore accounted for 12% of GM’s crossover volume in the automaker’s best-ever month for U.S. crossover sales. The Chevrolet Equinox, on the other hand, America’s second-best-selling utility vehicle last month, generated 37% of GM’s crossover volume thanks to a 42% YOY improvement. The Equinox’s GMC Terrain twin was only barely outsold by the Trax and Encore combined.

Including delivery fees, the Encore has a base price of $24,990. The Trax starts at $20,995. All-wheel-drive adds $1500 to the price in both cases.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar.

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27 Comments on “Arrival Of Buick Encore Twin Doesn’t Reduce Encore Demand – Encore Growth Continues Alongside Trax...”


  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Just looked at the Buick site (probably my first time). wow, starting at $25K for a car with 18.8 ft³ cargo. The HRV will eat this thing alive.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      The one thing the Buick will be best in segment at is interior quiet.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      The Encore really is one of the more counter intuitive success stories in recent memory. Even without the HR-V and CX-3 to compete with it, I still fail to see what attraction was to begin with.

      Value for money? Nope
      Curb appeal? Nope
      Utility? Nope
      Luxury amenities? Nope

      Someone educate me – I just don’t get it.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        Ease of access? Yup
        Ease of urban maneuvering? Yup
        Decently fuel efficient? Yup

        And, channeling my innermost grandmother here, “It doesn’t look angry like all those sports cars!” (Yes my grandmother asked me if I could take the 2″ high spoiler off her ’98 Camry so she didn’t feel like she’s driving a racecar.)

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The HRV doesn’t compete with the Encore – which would be considered “near luxury.”

      The HRV will compete with the Trax.

      Now if Honda makes an Acura version of the HRV – (IRX???) then THAT would complete with the Encore – and would have a higher price point.

      To that point, it is a big stretch to say the Civic competes with the Verano. The Civic competes with the Cruze, the ILX competes with the Verano.

      Dismiss at your own risk.

      The HRV comes with a CVT, which is generally hated, it doesn’t have a fuel economy advantage (better city, worse highway, both FWD and AWD configs, it’s a wash when averaged), and despite having higher displacement it has almost the same HP and significantly less torque. The HRV is priced about $800 below a Chevy Trax (when equipped with the CVT auto, there is no manual option for the Trax – keeping things apples to apples) – but has less standard kit at the price point.

      I said the Encore would be a sales success – the B&B generally dismissed it as doomed to failure.

      The average reader of TTAC does not understand the demographic that gravitates toward these kind of vehicles (Mazda, Fiat, Chevy, Buick and coming soon Honda).

      For urban and close to urban center running they are perfect. They are small, good forward visibility, maneuverable, easy to park, carry two people in comfort, four when needed, drop the seats and carry two with cargo, they sell the faux promise of “safety” with AWD, and get good fuel economy.

      The buyers in this segment aren’t lugging around rugrats, they aren’t hauling 30 bags of mulch from Home Depot (and wouldn’t do it in their BMW X5 anyway), they aren’t doing auto cross or canyon carving, and are generally stuck in traffic and sitting at traffic lights.

      For empty nesters, a huge demographic not only representing aging baby boomers but growing ranks of Generation X, these are ideal vehicles.

      You could almost toss the Kia Soul in the class, although no AWD and definitely larger.

      For my money, if I didn’t want AWD, and I was looking in this class – I’d go with the Kia. Ton of quasi-compact-CUV for the money. But the Soul is a compact, not a subcompact – it’s a different class.

      If I wanted AWD – I’d go with the Buick Encore.

      Like it or not, the subcompact CUV class is for real, and will only grow.

      Interesting point, Sonic sales dropped in 2015 hand-in-hand with the Trax showing up on the showroom floor. What do buyers want? They’re voting with their wallets.

      Prediction – Encore sales hold the line or keep creeping upward. Trax sales continue to trend upward and cannibalizing Sonic sales (and the Sonic is getting up there in years, the interior is looking aged).

      The HRV is a success, at the expense of some Fit sales (same issue, oooh look, CUV versus hatchback – hatchback evil – CUV good), and an Acura version appears in the next 36 months.

      Also predict, Toyota and Ford jump into the fray.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        The Honda Civic/HRV engine has 21 lb-ft less torque, but also 400 pounds less road-hugging insulation than the Encore to lug around. No doubt its parts fit better as well.

        As Cain has shown, the Soul is market leader in this segment at the moment if you consider it as a small CUV. Over 42,000 sold already just in the four months this year, more than twice as many as the Encore.

        These are all utilitarian vehicles of low aspiration though, and the picture hardly brightens with the next size up. Just blah.

  • avatar

    Cringed a little at calling the Trax a “twin”, definitely a platform mate though. Significant design changes between the two, particularly the interior where the dash is VERY different in shape and features. Vauxhall/Opel Mokka is definitely a “twin”, sharing interior and exterior identically to one another.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Cringe again: Tracore? or Enax?

      Despite different sheet metal, the Encore & Trax have the same side profile, same hard points, same powertrains. It’s more than badge engineering, but not as dramatic as the difference between, say, the 2nd gen Toyota Matrix and 2nd gen Scion xB which also shared hard points and a powertrain.

  • avatar
    McKeith

    Trax sales could be hurting due to the deep discounts on the Equinox right now. The Buick doesn’t have that kind of pricing pressure at the dealership.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The Buick is a nice little trucklet: it’s soft, has easy access and is reasonably well-appointed for the price.

    If you can get past the cute-as-a-puppy styling and are just looking for something tall that carries two people but could fit four and/or cargo in a pinch, it’s quite a nice little car.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    As mall buggies for seniors, this entire segment should thrive for a while. I wonder if Toyota will jump in.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Had a Trax for a rental last week. What a disappointment. The engine and transmission combo was awful. Power was not linear. AC was either low on refrigerant or way under powered. Lots of cheap plastic. MPG was less than the Honda CR-V which is bigger and faster. If only GM put a little more effort into it, it could have been a great little CUV.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Two things in the Encore’s favor: No Equinox equivalent (although the Terrain could substitute, but I think the audience is different), and no other small car, i.e., Sonic or Spark equivalent.

    I have to believe what’s keeping the Trax from taking off is largely a matter of pricing. I can get a nicely equipped FWD Equinox about the same money than a similar Trax. In the US, we tend to buy our cars by the pound and the ‘Nox has some money on the hood right now. I don’t believe the Trax does.

    FWIW, I somehow got on FCA’s mailing list and they have sent me a postcard detailing $1,000 off of the price of a new Renegade… How strange…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Encore not harmed”

    Can I take it out back and harm, err, fix it?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Do they bother to break down by AWD vs FWD? Since some portion of the population considers AWD to be a “luxury” feature, I’m interested in the % of the drive train makeup for vehicles where AWD is available.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      They don’t, but if current inventory is any guide, AWD makes up slightly more than one-third of Encore volume; approximately 40% of Trax; and 27% of Equinox. (Equinox number sounds low, eh?)

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Oh I fully believe the Equinox # and the Traverse # is likely similar.

        I’m always saddened by the low # of CUVs sold with AWD/4×4, even the Jeep “soft-roaders”. Why buy a vehicle with 9 in of ground clearance if you don’t need the added benefit of AWD?

        It only reinforces their “minivan” by another name status.

        • 0 avatar
          Frylock350

          I kinda have an opposite view. Why on earth would you waste money on 300lbs of AWD equipment on an FWD vehicle that’s less capable of offroading than a Crown Victoria? And what is this 9″ of ground clearance you speak of? Most CUVs have ~7″ of ground clearance. Most modern sedans have ~5″. Nobody is taking these offroad. On snow covered pavement FWD does just fine.

          Our CUV is FWD and there was no way I’m paying the extra cost for what amounts to a decent drain on fuel economy that’s never useful in the context of a daily driver.

          Now my Silverado is 4×4 because it makes sense. Its RWD and has absolutely no weight over the rear tires; it need 4×4 for bad weather driving.

          They aren’t a minivan by another name either. Minivans are huge compared to our Terrain. They also lack the better styling of our GMC. This was bought to have lots of interior room in vehicle that doesn’t take up any more pavement than a midsize sedan and still returns good fuel economy. I know enthusiasts don’t like it but the midsize CUV is a fantastic vehicle for a huge percentage of the population. They’re not excellent at anything, but they’re very good at lots of things; more things than any other type of vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            People who don’t need ground clearance or AWD should have bought a sedan or a wagon.

            Oh wait I forgot, we’re Americans…

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “People who don’t need ground clearance or AWD should have bought a sedan or a wagon.”

            People like tall seating positions: think of these as a return to the packaging of cars from the 1940s and early 1950s.

            Eventually, as people get used to the tall-car thing without having to accept truck styling pretenses, this will be less of an issue. Consider, for example, the (original) Ford Focus or Toyota Echo: at the time they were considered painfully awkward, but fast forward fifteen years and now every car is tall (albeit with much worse sightlines and bigger wheels).

            The latest round of crossovers is further evidence of this: every single one of them is dropping more “truck” styling cues. Eventually they’ll lose the lifted wheels and get sane ground clearance and we’ll have, effectively, the same MPVs that Europe does.

        • 0 avatar
          Frylock350

          “People who don’t need ground clearance or AWD should have bought a sedan or a wagon.

          Oh wait I forgot, we’re Americans…”

          Ok I’ll bite, though you clearly know what’s best for me.

          Find me a station wagon that will provide the following requirements for the same $30k I paid for my Terrain
          1. 40″ of rear leg room
          2. 31.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the seats (and since its a CUV remember it can hold tall items. and if you stack to the ceiling has far more than advertized room.
          3. 30mpg highway real world
          4. Naturally aspirated gasoline engine
          5. Doesn’t shade a ton of pavement, 188″ x 73″ is very manageable.
          6. Infotainment with bluetooth audio streaming, pandora, handfree calling, etc

          Also aesthetically desirable
          1. Soft, non-sporty ride quality
          2. Aggressive, non-wedge shaped looks.

          Not on the radar
          1. Handling
          2. sport suspension, turbos, diesels, “German engineering”

          Don’t assume CUV buyers didn’t do their homework or that they hold a grudge against wagons. I’m a station wagon advocate and have owned several (all GM b-body wagons that could do actual work) and will gladly own again (RWD, V8 80″ wide and holds 4×8 sheets of material, and can tow 5000lbs) if one I like is ever made. But for my needs nothing beats the midsize CUV. Its superior to a wagon in all the ways that matter to me. I know its a tall wagon with truck styling. Turns out that’s EXACTLY what I wanted in a second vehicle.


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