Buick usually isn’t the first automaker that comes to mind when you think about trendsetting products. However, General Motor’s midlevel brand can say it was one the first to launch a subcompact crossover with the 2013 Buick Encore. The competition is catching up, however, as mainstream models like the Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 now compete within the subcompact SUV segment.
The Buick Encore comes to us from Europe, where it is sold as the Mokka under the Opel and Vauxhall brands. Before making its arrival into the U.S., Buick made some key changes to the exterior to make it their own, including a new waterfall grille and portholes on the hood. A range of 18-inch wheels finishes off the exterior.
Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission routes power to the front wheels, or to all four wheels if you choose the optional all-wheel drive system. The EPA rates the Buick Encore at 25/33 mpg city/highway, or 28 mpg combined for the front-wheel drive model. All-wheel drive Encores see a slight drop in fuel economy to 23/30 mpg city/highway, or 26 mpg combined.
One of the big hallmarks for Buick is how quiet their vehicles are, and the Encore is no exception. Buick fitted the Encore with an acoustically-treated windshield, side glass and headliner, as well as specific tires to reduce noise. Certain trims also get an active noise cancelling system to counteract road and engine noise.
Standard equipment is quite extensive, with all Encores getting a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth, a backup camera and a 7-inch screen with Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system. Also included are a six-speaker audio system and USB and auxiliary jacks. Higher trims get remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
A year after its introduction, Buick introduced an optional blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert. 2015 saw Buick introduce OnStar 4G LTE to the Encore. The 4G LTE system can also provide a Wi-Fi hot spot.
For 2016, the Encore gained a new Sport Touring trim that includes a new turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Along with the punchier engine, the Sport Touring model also gets a stop-start system, sporty-looking 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.
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