2014 Buick Encore sits squarely in the sights of
young, upwardly mobile singles and couples looking
for a vehicle that fits their busy,
no longer the car just for the gray-haired set — the
brand has been revitalized and aimed at a much-younger
audience, especially with models such as the compact
Verano sedan and our test vehicle for the week, the
small Encore crossover.
the biggest Buick models, the LaCrosse sedan and the
Enclave crossover, are being embraced more by active
professionals than older consumers, helping to lower the
brand’s age appeal by at least a generation or two
tester, though — the 2014 Encore — sits squarely in
the sights of young, upwardly mobile singles and couples
looking for a vehicle that fits their busy,
five-passenger Encore, introduced last year, is a foot
shorter than the Verano, with a wheelbase that’s 5
inches shorter. Such a small vehicle may seem odd for a
brand whose reputation for decades centered on
comfortable large sedans and wagons, but it’s
perfectly in line with the brand’s goals both at home
to bring up-and-coming premium-vehicle buyers into the
Buick fold, where presumably they will work their way up
to larger and more-expensive Buicks as they age and grow
in their careers and incomes.
2014, Encore prices begin at $24,160 for the base model,
and range as high as $30,465 for the Premium all-wheel
drive. The entry-model price makes the Encore quite a
bargain considering all of the standard amenities it
offers the Encore with either front-wheel drive, which
is standard, or optional all-wheel drive. It’s
designed to send power almost 50-50 to the front and
rear on startup, but favors the front wheels in normal
driving until the automatic system detects wheel
safety features for 2014 include rear cross traffic
alert and side blind zone alert systems, included on all
but the base model.
tester was the front-wheel drive Premium model, base
1.4-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and the
small profile of the Encore allow it to offer the best
fuel economy in the Buick lineup. Its EPA ratings are
among the best in the crossover realm.
front drive, the estimates are 25 mpg city/33 highway/28
combined; for all-wheel-drive models, 23/30/26. During
my test, I averaged about 28.8 mpg, with a combination
of city and highway driving.
the Encore doesn’t feel small. Tall people — 6 feet
or more — can ride in comfort in the front bucket
seats, and they’re riding higher up than you would
imagine in a vehicle with such a small exterior size.
There is no feel of being in a tiny vehicle, sitting
close to the ground.
Encore seems about the same size inside as the
first-generation Nissan Rogue and the current Subaru
Forester, among others.
the Encore looks somewhat like a junior-size version of
the seven-passenger Enclave, with similar front-end
styling and overall shape, and the signature Buick
Encore is the same length as the boxy Scion xB, and
about a foot shorter than the Honda CR-V. But I couldn’t
help comparing the Encore — favorably — to such
compact crossovers as the Volkswagen Tiguan, which is
about six inches longer, and the Audi Q5, about a
foot-and-a-half longer. We were able to seat three
average-size adults in the rear bench seat for a run out
to dinner, and had no real complaints.
passengers had plenty of leg and knee room, although the
middle rider was a bit cramped and suggested that might
not be a good place for a long trip. A child safety seat
would fit there well, however, with two larger kids or
even small- to medium-size adults on each side.
only cupholders in the back, though, were two in a small
pull-down center armrest that eliminates the middle
seating position. Small door pockets were not wide
enough to serve as bottle holders either in front or
front, the center console area provides two small
cupholders and a lidded compartment for gadgets. In
front of the shifter is a slanted cubby suitable for a
couple of portable devices, and there are USB and
auxiliary ports right next to a 12-volt power outlet in
front of the storage spot.
is 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat,
accessed through a rear hatch that flips up in one piece
for easy loading and unloading. Fold down the rear
seatback, though, and the cargo area expands to a
whopping 48.4 cubic feet. You could get a big-screen TV
box back there, if necessary.
the Encore was rather fun, with its turbocharged
1.4-liter four-cylinder Ecotec engine, producing 138
horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. It’s almost
perfect for this vehicle’s size and weight (under
turbo engine, which is connected to a six-speed
automatic transmission, has quick response and plenty of
zip. The electric power steering was precise and
predictable, and the four-wheel antilock disc brakes
made for quick and sure stopping, even in the occasional
near-panic situations that seem to occur with more
frequency when traffic gets thick.
noisier than larger, more-expensive Buick models, the
Encore is relatively quiet inside, aided by Buick’s
exclusive QuietTuning, which uses Bose’s active noise
base model comes loaded with features such as OnStar,
cruise control, ice-blue ambient interior lighting,
premium cloth upholstery with "leatherette"
accents, heated outside mirrors, six-way power driver’s
seat with lumbar adjustment, and power windows/door
locks with remote.
included are an AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with 7-inch
color display/USB port/Bluetooth connectivity,
leather-wrapped steering wheel, color-keyed carpeted
floor mats, rear cargo cover, roof luggage rails, two
gloveboxes, a theft-deterrent system, 18-inch painted
cast-aluminum wheels and a compact spare tire with jack.
Convenience model adds a self-dimming rearview mirror,
remote start, dual automatic climate control, 120-volt
power outlet and fog lamps.
the Leather model comes leather seats, heated steering
wheel and front seats, a power passenger seat, and a
driver memory package with settings for seat position,
outside mirrors and climate control.
the top, the Premium model has leather and most of the
other features from the lower levels, along with
rain-sensing wipers, a premium Bose seven-speaker audio
system, front and rear park assist, forward-collision
alert, lane-departure warning, cargo net and a cargo
safety features include 10 air bags, electronic
stability control, rearview camera, cornering brake
control with electronic brake assist, tire-pressure
monitoring, and a safety-cage body designed to protect
available options are 18-inch chromed-aluminum wheels
(included on the tester), a power sunroof also included)
and an oil pan heater.
Premium tester also came with an upgraded audio system
with navigation and satellite radio.
sticker price was $32,480, including freight and
the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10)
package: Compact, five-door, five-passenger,
turbocharged four-cylinder powered, front- or
all-wheel-drive premium crossover utility vehicle
All new for 2013, this is a smallest vehicle in the
Buick lineup, made on the same chassis as the Chevrolet
Sonic hatchback. It offers sporty handling for a utility
vehicle, decent performance with its turbocharged
engine, decent fuel economy, and plenty of utility
No engine upgrade offered for better performance
1.4-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder, gasoline
138 horsepower/148 pound-feet
weight: 3,190-3,309 pounds
volume: 18.8 cubic feet (behind rear seat); 48.4 cubic
feet (rear seat folded)
front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock
capacity/type: 14 gallons/unleaded regular
fuel economy: 25 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined (front
drive); 23/30/26 (all-wheel drive)
competitors: Nissan Rogue, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Subaru
Forester, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mini Countryman, Mazda
CX-5, Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4,
price range: $24,160-$30,465
as tested: $31,555
exclude destination charge.