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Auto review: Encore small crossover seeks to
attract younger consumers to the Buick brand
By G. ChamBers Williams iii wipers, front and rear park assist,
Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure
Fort Worth Star-telegram
Warning and an air ionizer.
Since arriving in the Buick lineup
New exterior colors for 2019 are
for 2013, the Encore small crossover,
with a 2019 base price of just $23,200 Satin Steel Gray Metallic, which was
the color of our tester, and Deep Azure
(plus $995 freight), quickly became
Metallic. On the Essence model, only
Buick’s top-selling vehicle.
Summit White is available at the base
A major freshening of the fiveprice. Our car’s Satin Steel Gray, the
passenger Encore made it even better Deep Azure and four other metallic
for year 2017.
colors _ Ebony Twilight, Quicksilver,
That brought a new, sculpted front
Winterberry Red and Coppertino _ are
$495 extra, and White Frost Tricoat
end and streamlined design that
adds $1,095 to the sticker price.
included new front and rear fascias,
a winged grille with a new Buick
The Encore is a big part of efforts to
tri-color insignia, new headlights and bringing new, younger buyers to Buick
taillights with LED signature lighting,
as it tries to rebuild a brand that had
a new hood and front fenders, and
long been associated with big cars and
redesigned 18-inch alloy wheels.
older clientele.
The interior got its share of changes
This small crossover is a version
as well, with a new instrument layout, of the Opel Mokka, from GM’s now
eight-inch touch-screen audio system, former German subsidiary that was
4.2-inch driver-information screen,
sold to French automaker Peugeot
chrome accents , contrast stitching on in 2017. The Buick Encore and the
upholstery, and premium materials.
similar Chevrolet Trax are assembled
in GM’s plant in South Korea.
The 2017 Encore also debuted
such new features as pushbutton
Encore is a junior version of the fullstart, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay size Enclave crossover, and is among
connectivity, keyless lock/unlock on
a growing number of small crossovers
the door handles, and improved sixintroduced by a variety of automakers
power power-adjustable driver’s seat as more consumers look for vehicles
(with manual recline).
that are versatile and economical to
For 2019, the trim levels have been operate.
dropped to four from last year’s five,
Along with the addition of the slightly
and include the base Encore ($23,200), larger China-built Envision compact
Preferred ($24,600), Sport Touring
crossover for 2016, Buick now has
($25,800) and Essence ($29,300).
three crossovers, as well as a wagon
Those prices are for front-wheel-drive version of the Opel-based Regal
models, but all-wheel drive can be
midsize sedan, called the Regal TourX.
added to any trim level except the
With room for up to five people,
base model for $1,500.
the Encore was designed for young,

Our test vehicle for this report was
the top-end Essence model with allwheel drive (base price $30,800).
Also new for 2019 is the Safety
Package II ($940), available only on
the Essence trim. It was included on
our tester, and it added rain-sensing

$$ WE B


seem to occur with more frequency
when traffic gets thick.

With its small size and light weight
(about 3,400 pounds), the Encore
aluminum-alloy wheels with midnight offers the best fuel economy in the
Buick lineup, and EPA ratings that are
silver finish, rear spoiler, and bodyamong the best in the crossover realm.
color door handles.
With the base engine and front drive,
The base engine is a 1.4-liter
the estimates are 25 mpg city/30
turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder with highway/27 combined; for all-wheel138 horsepower and 148 foot-pounds drive models, 24/29/26. The optional
of torque. It’s connected to a six-speed turbo engine is rated slightly better, at
automatic transmission.
26/3{8 for front drive, and 25/30/27
with all-wheel drive.
Optional on the Sport Touring and
Essence models, for $250 extra, is a
During my test, I averaged about
more-powerful 1.4-liter Ecotec turbo
26.8 mpg, with a combination of city
four-cylinder engine with start-stop
and highway driving.
technology. It has 153 horsepower and
Inside, the Encore doesn’t feel small.
177 foot-pounds of torque. It’s also
Tall people _ six feet or more _ can
paired with a six-speed automatic.
ride in comfort in the front bucket
This engine was included on our test
seats, and they’re riding higher up
than you would imagine in a vehicle
The Encore comes with OnStar with with such a small exterior size. There
4G LTE connectivity and a built-in Wi-Fi is no feel of being in a tiny vehicle,
hotspot. That gives everyone in the
sitting close to the ground.
vehicle access to the Internet while the
Outside, the Encore looks somewhat
vehicle is in range of cell towers. GM
like a junior-size version of the sevensays the hotspot is on whenever the
passenger Enclave, with similar frontcar is running, and it includes a free
end styling and overall shape, and the
three-month trial subscription.
signature Buick grille.
Encore’s all-wheel drive is designed
The Encore is about a foot shorter
to send power almost 50-50 to the
than the Honda CR-V. It’s about the
front and rear on startup, but favors
same size inside as the Volkswagen
the front wheels in normal driving
Tiguan, which is about six inches
until the automatic system detects
longer, and the Audi Q5, which is about
wheel slippage. There is no low-range
a foot-and-a-half longer.
gearing for serious off-road driving,
We were able to seat three averagehowever.
size adults in the rear bench seat for
Available high-tech safety features
some short trips. Outboard passengers
include Rear Cross Traffic Alert
had plenty of leg and knee room,
and Side Blind Zone Alert systems,
although the middle rider was a bit
included on all but the base model.
cramped and suggested that might
Driving the Encore is rather fun for
not be a good place for a long trip. A
a crossover. Even the base engine is
child safety seat would fit there well,
turbocharged, which gives it a good
however, with two larger kids or even
boost when the accelerator is mashed. small- to medium-size adults on each
With either engine, you’ll get the same side.
six-speed automatic transmission.
But the only cupholders in the back

upwardly mobile singles and couples
looking for a vehicle that fits their
active lifestyles. It also appeals to
The electric power steering was
empty-nesters and retired consumers. precise and predictable, and the fourwheel antilock disc brakes made for
For 2016, the Sport Touring model
was added to the lineup. It comes with quick and sure stopping, even in the
some unique features, such as 18-inch occasional near-panic situations that

for your next vehicle.

were a pair 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 back.

In the 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

deterrent system, 18-inch painted
cast-aluminum wheels, and a compact
spare tire with jack.
Our top-end Essence model had
leather seats, self-dimming rearview
mirror, remote start, dual automatic
climate control, 120-volt power outlet,
fog lights, heated/leather-wrapped
steering wheel, six-way power
passenger seat, and a driver memory
package with settings for seat position,
outside mirrors and climate control.

There 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
Other extras on our test vehicle
unloading. Fold down the rear
seatback, though, and the cargo area included a power sunroof ($900) and
expands to a whopping 48.4 cubic
Bose premium audio system ($595)
feet. You could get a big-screen TV box with HD radio.
back there, if necessary.
Standard safety features include 10
Encore is relatively quiet inside,
air bags, electronic stability control,
aided by Buick’s exclusive QuietTuning, rearview camera, cornering brake
which uses Bose Active Noise
control with electronic brake assist,
Cancellation technology.
tire-pressure monitoring, and a safetyEven the base model comes loaded cage body designed to protect the
with features such as OnStar, cruise
control, premium cloth upholstery,
Total sticker price for our 2019 Buick
heated outside mirrors, six-way power
driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, Encore Essence with all-wheel drive
was $34,975, including freight and
and power windows/door locks with
Also included are an AM/FM/CD/
satellite audio system with eight-inch
color display/USB port/Bluetooth
connectivity, color-keyed carpeted
floor mats, rear cargo cover, roof
luggage rails, two gloveboxes, a theft-

The automotive columns of G.
Chambers Williams III have appeared
regularly in the Star-Telegram since
1994. Contact him at chambers@ or on Twitter @


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