2017 Buick Encore Driving Impressions

Driving an Encore is a pleasure. The standard engine strains to get the Encore underway, but the 153-horsepower version provides more appropriate vigor. Passing on two-lane roads and merging onto expressway is significantly easier.

Buick’s automatic transmission tends to upshift too soon. With the milder engine, in particular, accelerating at even a modest pace typically requires more than one downshift.

Despite relatively large wheels and a short wheelbase, the Encore delivers impressive ride comfort. Urban potholes and other trouble spots produce a little choppiness, but less than expected in such a small vehicle. Electric power steering does its job well, too.

Unlike some competitors, operation of Buick’s automatic Stop/Start system is barely noticeable. When accelerating hard, though, either engine emits troublesome booming noise. Optional all-wheel drive not only improves traction, but improves ride quality.

Fuel economy is about average: less thrifty than expected. With the base engine and front-drive, the 2016 Encore was 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. With the optional engine, a front-drive model is EPA-rated at 28/34 mpg City/Highway, versus 26/32 mpg City/Highway with all-wheel drive.

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