Reviews

2017 Buick Encore Introduction


Essentially based on an economy car, the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic, Buick Encore is a small crossover SUV with premium features. When it debuted as a 2013 model, Encore was one of few small crossovers. Today, that niche has grown quite crowded.

The 2017 Buick Encore gets a fresh front end, revised interior with an 8-inch touchscreen and pushbutton start. Buick will offer its stronger engine in all trim levels, except the base model.

Standard engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder, developing 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. It mates with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Considering Encore’s 3,200-pound weight, it’s no surprise that performance falls short of stimulating. Acceleration to 60 mph takes a sluggish nine seconds, while gas mileage isn’t so thrifty for a small vehicle.

Adding direct injection boosts output to 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet, which eases passing and merging. For good daily drivability, the optional four-cylinder makes more sense.

For what amounts to a tall wagon on a short wheelbase, handling is about as good as any rival’s. Optional all-wheel drive helps with harsh-weather traction.

Because the Encore is narrow, front passengers might bump elbows now and then. Headroom is more abundant, and average-size adults can fit comfortably into the back seat.

Despite its premium fittings, the Encore’s interior is more versatile and flexible than expected. Both the rear seat and the front passenger seat may be folded down. Bose noise cancellation helps keep the ride quiet, and information appears on a large central touchscreen.

Safety features and standard equipment are among the Encore’s primary attractions. All versions have 10 airbags, a rearview camera, OnStar’s 4G LTE data connection, and can run smartphone apps via Bluetooth, Apple Car Play, and Android Auto. Buyers can add leather upholstery, all-wheel drive, premium Bose audio, and safety options including lane-departure and forward-collision warnings, as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Making the rearview camera standard was wise, because over-the-shoulder and rearward visibility are dreadful. Some active-safety systems seem a little too cautious, but most warnings signal a valid concern.

Encores have scored well in crash-testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it five stars overall, rating five-star in every category except rollover. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated Encore Good in three tests, warranting a Top Safety Pick award.

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