The notion of a subcompact crossover from Buick of all brands seemed radical once upon a time, but the Encore is now a mainstream player with plenty of fans. After all, you get the footprint of an economy car and access to a plethora of luxury and convenience features usually associated with larger, more expensive vehicles.
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2016 Buick Encore Overview
What's New for 2016
The Sport Touring model debuts, offering extra power and style.
Choosing Your Buick Encore
The Encore's interior is more spacious than you might expect given its petite exterior dimensions. There's 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, which is more than you get in Buick's largest sedan. With the seat folded, you're looking at 48.4 cubic feet, which is similar to a compact wagon. The front passenger seat folds down as well, a nifty feature that allows you carry long objects (up to 8 feet) and still close the tailgate.
The Encore's turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 138 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. An optional version of the engine is good for 153 horsepower. All-wheel drive is available across the board in place of the standard front-drive setup. You can expect to get about 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
Like other Buicks, the Encore is generously equipped from the start, and becomes downright luxurious as you move up the trim levels:
All except the base model are eligible for a sunroof, navigation, and roof rails. The Convenience, Leather, and Premium can also get chrome wheels.
Moving up each trim level costs about $1,000, a small amount considering everything you get. We find the Convenience and new Sport Touring to be especially good deals.
2016 Buick Encore Review
A pioneer in the luxury compact crossover segment, the 2016 Buick Encore offers long list of standard features but is somewhat hindered by underwhelming performance.
Pricing and Equipment
The Buick Encore is an upscale subcompact crossover that served as a pioneer in a continually evolving segment. It's powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, and available in a variety of trim levels -- all come with standard front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive as a $1,500 option.
- The base-level Encore Group includes 18-inch painted alloy wheels, Buick’s base IntelliLink audio system with 7-inch touchscreen, and more. Pricing starts at $24,065.
- The Convenience Group adds some nice safety features like rear cross-traffic and side blind zone alert. A remote vehicle starter and dual-zone air conditioning are interior highlights. Pricing starts at $26,355.
- The Leather Group includes, you guessed it, leather seats and a heated leather steering wheel. Pricing starts at $28,300.
- Buick pulls out all the stops with the $29,785 Premium Group. A Bose sound system fills the cabin with music while forward collision alerts and front/rear park assist add an extra measure of safety.
- There's also a nicely equipped enthusiast-minded Encore Sport Touring Group that starts at $27,350.
The Encore’s base 1.4-liter engine produces 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque in most models. The new Sport Touring trim boosts output to 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque.
- Gas mileage on the front-wheel drive models is decent for a small crossover at 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. All-wheel drive models are a little less exciting at 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
- Steering is precise and the Encore offers a tight running circle for navigating tight spaces. The Encore feels nimble.
- The suspension, in all but the new Sport model, is tuned to favor comfort over performance, which isn’t a bad thing, especially in a small crossover with limited power.
- The four-wheel disc brakes are up to the job. While not the best handling crossover on the road, the majority of drivers will find the Encore a competent vehicle for day-to-day trips and commuting to work.
Employing the same 1.4-liter found in the Chevy Sonic, the subcompact with which the Encore shares a chassis, the major criticism of Buick’s Encore has been its lack of power. The heavier weight (3,300 pounds) burdens the Encore’s base engine to the point that the car struggles in highway passing and feels lethargic around town.
- Buick has done a fine job putting together an upscale quiet interior. Soft-touch surfaces abound and a splash of wood and metal accents finish the design.
- A 7-inch touchscreen interface for the infotainment system comes with every Encore. The standard audio system sound great -- and the optional Bose system is even better. Buick’s easy-to-use intelliLink system allows you to easily connect your smartphone to the system to stream content and make phone calls.
- The Encore’s interior volume is almost as diminutive as the Encore’s horsepower. The back seat is tight even when compared to others in the subcompact crossover segment.
- Cargo space is more along the lines of a typical hatchback than an SUV.
Most Pleasant Surprise
The long list of standard features, including the standard 4G LTE WI-FI hotspot, place the Encore on par with more expensive crossovers.
Least Pleasant Surprise
When you hear “turbocharged” you think performance, but that just isn’t the case with the Encore. That said, the new Sport model works to make up for the lack of power in the other trim levels.
The Bottom Line
The Buick Encore was one of the first subcompact crossovers to hit the market when it debuted in 2013, earning accolades from reviewers and -- more importantly -- owners. While the Encore is still a good consideration for those looking for fuel economy and affordable luxury, many of Buick’s competitors have brought more attractive alternatives to the table.
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