2017 Buick Encore: Defining A Concise Compact Crossover – Forbes
My mom had a Buick adorned with faux wood paneling just over 40 years ago. Her 1976 ‘Bicentennial Edition’ Estate Wagon was a land yacht, measuring over 19 feet long and tipping the scales at nearly 5,200 pounds. Under its expansive hood was a 7.4-liter V8, rated at 205 horsepower. With its 3-speed automatic, and a light right foot, it could deliver 13 MPG on the highway.
I’m thinking about mom’s old Buick as I drive the 2017 Buick Encore down those very same roads more than four decades later ― the two vehicles couldn’t be more different.
Unlike that classic, full-size, fuel-guzzling wagon, the Encore is Buick’s first subcompact crossover. The five-passenger vehicle first went on sale in 2013, slotting below the company’s Envision in terms of size and sticker price. Freshly updated for this model year, yet still just 14 feet long, it’s shorter than a Honda Civic ― it’s small — but don’t allow your judgement to be clouded as this entry-level SUV is a well-appointed offering.
A curb weight of about 3,300 pounds allows GM’s engineers to fit the Encore with two very small engines. Standard models feature a naturally aspirated 1.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four cylinder, developing 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque ― spend a bit more as the forced induction engine is the proper choice, and the one fitted to my test vehicle. Buick also offers a choice between front- and all-wheel drive. Unless the weather in your neck of the woods is horrific, FWD should be more than sufficient — it’s my recommendation.
Mated to a standard 6-speed automatic, the turbocharged Buick accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in about 9 seconds. The engine’s power is more than adequate around town, but it shines more brightly on the highway where its solid torque figure allows it to climb hills without feeling lethargic. Fuel economy, which is rated at 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, is about average.
Buick is GM’s premium brand, so the interior of the vehicle has been configured accordingly. My ‘Premium’ trim Encore boasts leather upholstery, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and a long list of luxury amenities. The front seats are comfortable and accommodate my six-foot two-inch frame very well, but it’s a bit tighter in the rear. I must move the front seat up about two inches so I may accompany the second row without feeling wedged in place. Two adults and two small children will fit well inside the Encore’s cabin, but four adults may find the space a bit too claustrophobic for a road trip. Another issue may be luggage space ― a shallow trunk limits overall capacity.