The Buick Encore is a small crossover SUV that rivals the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 along with the more mainstream Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax.
Its tall and boxy profile is somewhat ameliorated by a steeply raked front end and oversize 18-inch wheels. Encore is unusually quiet, reasonably spacious, and amply equipped. Feeble performance detracts from its hoped-for status as a premium model. Encore is structurally related to the Chevrolet Sonic.
Only one powertrain is available: a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder driving a 6-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control. Front-wheel drive is standard, optional all-wheel drive is available for harsh-weather traction.
Little has changed for 2016, except for revised seven-spoke 18-inch wheels. New for 2016 is a Sport Touring trim level with special exterior trim and a turbocharged engine making 153 horsepower.
While the cabin feels somewhat narrow, the back holds two adults with a degree of comfort. Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system, with a seven-inch touch-screen, can run smartphone apps via Bluetooth. OnStar 4G LTE telematics can create a WiFi network right in the car.
Fuel economy is good, but not thrifty enough for a vehicle in this category. The front-wheel-drive Encore is EPA-rated at 25/33 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined.
As for crash-testing, Encore has scored among the best small crossover SUVs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made it a Top Safety Pick, rate Good in three tests. That was a considerable improvement over 2014, when Encore was deemed Poor in the small-overlap trial. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave Encore five stars overall.