As one of the first premium subcompact crossovers, the Buick Encore quickly set the trend for the segment when it rolled out in 2013. A weak standard engine has since been joined by a more powerful variant.

Pricing and Equipment

Premium subcompact crossovers choices are still few in number, giving the Buick Encore an important edge in an effort to reach buyers. This model is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the standard and all-wheel drive is available for a $1,500 upgrade. Shoppers have their choice of five trim levels.

Beginning in 2016, Buick released an upgraded turbo engine available in the all-new Sport Touring edition. The new engine includes direct injection, increasing standard performance from 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque to 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Standard, convenience, leather, and premium editions are equipped with the base engine.

The 2017 Encore offers a long list of standard equipment, including painted 18-inch aluminum wheels, a rearview camera, a WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth connectivity, and 10 airbags. The convenience group or trim brings in dual-zone climate control, a 110-volt outlet, rear cross traffic alert and blind zone alert, and a remote vehicle starter system. The leather group brings in a heated leather steering wheel in addition to leather seats.

Performance Pros

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The Sport Touring edition provides the more powerful turbo engine, therefore this trim should be considered for that reason alone. The enhanced turbo is peppy and delivers sufficient power around town and on the highway.

A tight turning radius makes the Encore easy to park, especially on city streets where parallel parking is your only option.

The suspension is soft, but that isn’t a bad thing. Similar small SUVs don’t provide the cushioned feel over rough roads that the Encore delivers.

Performance Cons

The base engine is thrifty, but it isn’t especially powerful. Choosing the Sport Touring edition provides a more robust powertrain for this diminutive crossover. Making this engine standard across the model line would go far in eliminating that concern.

The better fuel economy rating comes with the more powerful engine. The base engine is EPA-rated at only 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway in all-wheel drive models or 2 mpg less than the enhanced engine.

Interior Pros

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Buick has brought its “quiet tuning” experience to its smallest model and that’s no small feat. Besides the quiet, shoppers will find premium touches throughout, including soft-touch materials, available leather, and metal accents.

The Buick IntelliLink infotainment system is one of the better ones out there, offering accurate turn-by-turn navigation along with overall ease of use. An all-new frameless 8-inch color touchscreen is a welcome addition.

Interior Cons

A tight back seat means adult passengers will find that space cramped, especially for legroom. The 60-40 split-folding bench seat offers seat belts for three, but two is ideal.

Standard cargo space measures just 18.8 cubic feet and that means luggage room is limited. At the same time, flipping down part of the rear seat and the front seat means you can accommodate items up to eight feet long inside the SUV.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The Buick Encore comes well equipped. The larger touchscreen is visually appealing and the infotainment system is both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Offering an enhanced turbo engine with the Encore was a wise move on Buick’s part. That it is available on only one trim level is a disappointment.

The Bottom Line

With the pending demise of the Verano compact sedan after 2017, the low-cost mantle for the Buick brand will transfer to the Encore. Stiff competition in the segment means shoppers should weigh this model against top-trim crossovers from mainstream brands.