Old and outdated. While other automakers are coming out with all-new and fully redesigned subcompact SUVs, the 2022 Buick Encore soldiers on mostly unchanged. That wouldn’t be an issue, but the Encore still dates back to the first-gen model that came out in 2013. Saying the Encore is stale is putting it kindly.

Against the hordes of subcompact SUVs that include competitors from Kia, Volkswagen, Mazda, Hyundai, and Nissan, the Encore just isn’t competitive. We suggest looking elsewhere for a tiny SUV.

Updated engine doesn’t help. For 2022, the Encore now comes with a new turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The motor is rated at 155 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The engine produces 17 more horsepower ad 29 more pound-feet of torque than last year’s engine. Despite the increase in performance, the Encore still has lethargic straight-line performance.

While others in the subcompact class offer peppy handling, the Encore has dull handling. The subcompact SUV leans heavily around corners, mostly because of its tall design and soft suspension. The Encore may not be a capable SUV around corners, but it offers a smooth ride over bump-filled roads.

Despite having an engine that we wouldn’t classify as being powerful, the Encore’s fuel economy figures lag behind its main rivals. With front-wheel drive, the Encore is rated to get up to 27 mpg combined. All-wheel drive lowers that figure to 26 mpg combined. Rivals like the Nissan Kicks (33 mpg combined), Hyundai Kona (32 mpg combined), Hyundai Venue (32 mpg combined), Kia Seltos (31 mpg combined), Chevrolet Trailblazer (31 mpg combined), and Volkswagen Taos (31 mpg combined) all get better fuel economy.

Get ready to spend extra for safety. Unlike a lot of its competitors, Buick charges extra for advanced safety features. There are two major safety packages for the Encore. The Safety Package includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert for $495. The Safety Package II is priced at $695 and adds front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that automatic emergency braking isn’t available on the Encore. It wasn’t last year and still isn’t for 2022. Seeing as how a lot of automakers, even Buick with the Encore GX, offer it as standard, it’s an odd feature to miss out on.

The Encore doesn’t have stellar crash-test ratings, either. The NHTSA gave the vehicle a five-star overall safety rating, but a four-star rating in the rollover test. In the IIHS testing, the subcompact SUV earned an Acceptable rating for the passenger-side small overlap front test, a Marginal rating for its headlights, and a Basic rating for its available vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system. Overall, these scores are below average for the segment.

Tiny on the inside and out. Subcompact SUVs aren’t known for being spacious vehicles, as they prioritize ease of use over space, but the Encore is especially small on the inside. It may have five seats, but the Encore is best utilized as a four-passenger vehicle. Even then, the two passengers in the back won’t exactly be comfortable, as the best seats in the SUVs are the ones in the front.

With just 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the Encore doesn’t offer much in the way of cargo capacity with all of the seats in place. Folding the rear seats does open cargo capacity up to a more meaningful 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space, but that still isn’t noteworthy for the class.

The good thing with the Encore’s cabin is that it feels premium. Except for a few hard plastics, passengers will mostly find upscale materials. The design of the Encore’s interior is also high-end with a straightforward design.

Final thoughts. The 2022 Buick Encore’s strengths are far and few in between. Even with its premium interior and intuitive infotainment system, the Encore is a hard subcompact SUV to recommend.

Against rivals, the Encore can’t compete with outdated tech features, missing safety features, a lackluster powertrain, and an old design. Buick needs to come out with a fully redesigned Encore if it wants the model to be competitive in the class.

Our favorite subcompact SUVs include the Mazda CX-30 and Kia Seltos. The Mazda feels and looks upscale, on the inside and outside. It’s enjoyable to drive, is available with a powerful turbocharged engine, and has a large 8.8-inch infotainment screen as standard.

The Kia Seltos is one of the more spacious options in the class. It offers up to 62.8 cubic feet of cargo space and generous seating for up to five people. Kia offers the Seltos with a 175-hp engine, a large 10.25-inch touchscreen, and an extensive list of standard safety features.

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