The 2013 Encore is a new model in the Buick lineup that’s aimed directly at buyers who want something that’s smaller and more economical, but don’t want to give up the comfort and convenience they’ve become accustomed to in larger cars. While many luxury brands offer similarly sized vehicles in other countries, Buick is one of the first to offer a compact crossover to U.S. consumers.
“Buick Encore is a smart choice for those who want luxury crossover amenities in a more maneuverable and agile vehicle,” said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing. “It represents a luxury alternative for a new audience of Buick customers, and delivers features and flexibility not typically found in vehicles of its size today.”
Traditional design cues, including a waterfall grille and portholes in the hood make Encore instantly recognizable as a Buick. Blue-accented halogen projector-beam headlights and detailed taillights give Encore a trendy appearance.
Inside, a flowing instrument panel wraps naturally into the door panels. A prominent center stack houses a seven-inch color display for the standard IntelliLink infotainment system, satellite radio, rearview camera, and the navigation system. The 120-volt outlet came in handy for recharging a laptop during our test drive.
Premium seats make use of high-density foam for greater comfort on long drives. They can be trimmed in either cloth/leatherette or premium leather. The 60/40 flat-folding rear seat has a fold-down armrest with cup holders.
There are plenty of storage places, including eight beverage holders, storage in all four doors, four bins in the dash, seatback pockets, a bin under the passenger seat and bins under the floor around the spare tire. Encore has 18.8 cubic feet of storage behind the split-folding rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
With the rear seat in place, there’s room for at least six full grocery bags. When the rear seat is folded, there’s room for golf clubs and overnight bags. The front passenger seat folds flat to extend the cargo length to accommodate long items.
Encore trim levels progressively add standard equipment with packages available in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive models:
Encore Convenience (1SD) – Adds Convenience package: electrochromic inside rearview mirror, remote start, dual automatic climate control, 120V outlet and fog lamps.
Encore Leather (1SL) – Adds Leather package: leather seating, heated steering wheel, power passenger seat, heated seats, driver memory package that includes driver presets for seat position, outside mirrors and climate control.
Encore Premium (1SN) – Adds Rainsense wipers, premium Bose seven-speaker audio system, front and rear park assist, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, cargo net and cargo mat.
Options include the premium Bose audio system GPS-enabled navigation,18-inch chromed aluminum wheels, sunroof and an oil pan heater.
Buick’s IntelliLink system is standard on all Encore models. IntelliLink integrates online services such as Pandora internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio using hands-free voice activation via Bluetooth smartphones.
SiriusXM Satellite Radio service adds SiriusXM Tune Select, which lets drivers and passengers tag an artist or song name to trigger an on-screen notification when a favorite tune plays on any SiriusXM channel. A premium, seven-speaker Bose audio system is available.
Buick uses a process called QuietTuning to identify noise characteristics so they can design a vehicle to reduce those sounds. Small cars are typically noisy inside, but we found our test car to be remarkably quiet. Bose Active Noise Cancellation takes the noise abatement process a step further by sending counteracting sound waves through the audio system’s speakers.
Encore is powered by an Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine produces 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,850 and 4,900 rpm. A wide rpm range for maximum torque is a trait of turbocharged engines that helps deliver better performance but Encore needs more than that. Our unofficial sprint from 0 to 60 mph took over 9 seconds and we couldn’t help but wonder why Buick didn’t include direct injection for better performance.
The 1.4L’s turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 city / 33 highway on FWD models. Other systems and components that help improve efficiency, include low-rolling-resistance tires, electric power steering and optimized aerodynamics.
The Hydra-Matic transmission has a “steep” first gear and a “tall” overdrive top gear to get a wide ratio spread of 6.14:1. That spread gives the Encore less-than-exciting off-the-line acceleration, but lower engine noise at highway cruising speeds.
The new Encore is built on a small-crossover platform that’s used worldwide. As such, it made economic sense to implement a “one-tire” philosophy. Everything is optimized for a single 18-inch tire specification, resulting in more precise suspension tuning, driving refinement, quietness and a feeling of control.
The suspension is conventional, with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear. Noise-damping urethane spring isolators are used to improve ride isolation and dampen noise. The variable-effort electric power steering is quick and precise with good on-center feel. It also helps with fuel economy by eliminating the parasitic drag of conventional hydraulic systems.
Encore is up to date with the use of technologies that help avoid crashes and protect occupants in case one occurs. The body structure is a protective cage around the passenger compartment. Ten standard air bags include driver & passenger frontal and knee, front and rear thorax and front & rear side curtain protection.
Encore’s safety and security features also include exclusive OnStar technology, which includes the Advanced Crash Response System, emergency assistance and more.
Prices start at $24,500