2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium SUV (1.4L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 2/26/2013
The Encore occupies a small niche in the world of tall hatchbacks. It's easy to use, not engaging, quiet, has a small cargo bay and nets good fuel economy. The 1.4L turbo isn't gutsy but it does propel the car acceptably around town.
PerformanceThere isn't anything to entice driving enthusiasts here, but the Encore is capable in day-to-day driving. Low-speed torque is sufficient, though the gearbox could be better.
The 1.4L turbo has good thrust around town; less so at freeway speeds. The transmission is keen to upshift to high gears and changes gears smoothly, if not especially quickly.
Though the pedal is rather soft in its initial travel, braking is progressive and predictable.
The steering is appropriately quick but lacks substance. It is overboosted and numb, requiring little effort from the driver and giving little information back in return.
Sporty is not a word to describe the Encore's handling. It goes where you point it and feels nimble around town. You won't be seeking out canyon roads, however.
The upshift-happy transmission will spoil your rhythm on a winding, uphill drive. Engine braking is lacking. Manual mode is difficult to use and too easy to accidentally engage.
ComfortQuiet, easy to park, small turning circle. The ride is quite good especially when you consider the short wheelbase.
Seats are relatively flat, though the modest bolstering means plenty of flexibility in driver size and your chosen driving position. No obvious flaws, but not outstanding, either.
The ride is relaxed; neither wallowy nor sporty. It exhibits some exaggerated vertical movements on the bumpy sections of our drive route.
Quiet car overall. No significant engine noise at cruise. Some wind noise at freeway speeds yet very little road noise. Quietness is a strong suit of the Encore.
InteriorPassenger space is quite good considering its compact exterior dimensions, but cargo space does suffer. Light brown dashtop reflects into windshield. Minimal brightwork is a plus.
Numerous buttons on center console with very small icons on them. Multimedia interface has clear graphics, but screen flow can be clunky.
Low step-in height and tall roof means it's very easy to get into and out of. The unobtrusive seat helps here, too.
Though compact, most of the interior volume has been given to passenger space. The rear seats, though flat and upright, will fit tall passengers.
Forward visibility is expansive through the windshield. Wide-based A-pillars block a lot of the view outward. Extremely thick C-pillars block most of the view rearward.
Small cargo area. It'll hold a moderate load of groceries with the rear seats up, but many compact crossovers do better here.
ValueAssuming its fuel economy upside pans out in the real world, the Encore makes a decent case for itself.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The dubious choice of interior color scheme notwithstanding, the Encore felt tight. A strange whistle was observed at 55 mph in our test sample.
Our range-topping Encore tester is well-equipped, with leather, back-up camera, navigation, heated seats and a collision warning system.
Our example topped $31 grand, which sounds like a lot but isn't far from choices like the RAV4 and Nissan Rogue.
The Encore's 25/33 city/hwy mpg fares well against the RAV4 and Rogue but doesn’t best the roomier and less costly Subaru XV Crosstrek.
A 4-yr/50,000-mi basic and 6-yr/70,000-mi powertrain warranty is better than average.
Scheduled maintenance visits are not included, but there is 6 years/70,000 miles of roadside assistance.
Fun To DriveFun isn't a word that can be used to describe the Encore. And its small size constrains function, too.
It's quiet and easy to get into and out of, though the centerstack controls may confound some.
The Encore comes across as anonymous and slightly dressy at the same time. Certain customers may find that appealing.