2013 Buick Encore Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Comfortable ride
- quiet interior
- high fuel economy
- attractive price.
- Tepid performance
- backseat is tight for bigger folks.
Thanks to its serene cabin, user-friendly high-tech features and nimble size, the 2013 Buick Encore should work well for those shopping for an upscale but still affordable small crossover SUV.
Buick has successfully been revamping and expanding its vehicle lineup the past few years, but one thing missing has been a crossover SUV smaller than Buick's already quite large Enclave. For consumers, that situation finally gets addressed with the 2013 Buick Encore.
The first thing you'll likely notice about the new Encore is its petite size. At 168 inches long, the Encore is about 10 inches shorter than a Honda CR-V. This aligns with the recent industry trend of offering truly compact crossover SUVs, with other examples being the Nissan Juke, BMW's new X1 or Mini's Cooper Countryman.
Pleasingly, the Encore delivers on Buick's traditional strengths. It's impressively quiet at freeway speeds, and the suspension keeps occupants comfortable by swallowing up bumps and ruts with utter composure. You also get plenty of standard features, an elevated driving position, available all-wheel drive, an easy-to-park size and high fuel economy. The Encore's price is also quite reasonable.
On the downside, the Encore's engine, a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder shared with the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic, is underwhelming. Its 138 horsepower is outmatched by the Encore's 3,200 pounds, and that's not factoring in additional passengers or cargo you might be carrying. Not helping matters is the six-speed automatic's rush-to-the-top gear programming; it's meant to optimize fuel economy but also blunts the Encore's responsiveness.
Still, we do like the 2013 Buick Encore, and it could be a good choice for younger buyers or empty nesters. If you want more power, the BMW X1 is considerably more fun to drive, but it's also considerably more expensive. The 2013 Mini Cooper Countryman is also fun to drive and priced similarly, though rear seating is even tighter than in the Buick. The 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan would be another solid choice. As such, we suggest putting the new Encore on your test-drive list along with its rivals to help crystallize your decision.
2013 Buick Encore models
The 2013 Buick Encore is offered in four trim levels: base, Encore with the Convenience Group, Encore with the Leather Group and Encore with the Premium Group. Each is available in front- and all-wheel-drive versions.
The base Encore comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, split-folding rear seats, fold-flat front passenger seat, OnStar telematics, Buick's IntelliLink personal electronics connection system, a 7-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
Stepping up to the Convenience Group adds foglights, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 120-volt power outlet and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
As you'd expect, the Leather Group adds leather upholstery, a six-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and driver memory settings.
The Premium Group adds rain-sensing wipers, an upgraded seven-speaker sound system, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and a rear cargo net and mat.
Many of the upper trims' features are available as options on the lower trims. Other options, depending on trim level, include chrome wheels, a power sunroof, a navigation system and roof rack cross rails.
Performance & mpg
All 2013 Buick Encore models are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder with 138 hp and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with a manual-shift feature is the only transmission offered.
EPA fuel economy estimates for front-wheel-drive Encores stand at 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined, while those with all-wheel drive rate 23/30/26.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Buick Encore include front-seat knee airbags, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, antilock disc brakes and traction and stability control. Also included is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance. Forward collision warning and lane departure warning are optional.
Today's Buicks drive with a sort of relaxed, composed comfort. They sail over road imperfections but do so without the bobbing and weaving we used to associate with cars wearing the Buick crest. Despite its small size, the Encore has this same sense of planted, on-road composure. In addition to its high fuel efficiency, the Encore's engine also scores points for its refinement. Cruising at high speeds, it's beyond whisper-quiet thanks to a number of "quiet-tuning" tricks, including an active sound-cancellation system by Bose.
As the Encore expectedly rides higher than a sedan or wagon, its center of gravity is likewise elevated, making it lean more when you press it into corners. Anyone who's coming into the Encore from a crossover or SUV won't notice a thing, but buyers stepping into a crossover for the first time will notice that cornering isn't quite as crisp. There's a surprising amount of grip, though, especially considering that the Encore's tires were chosen more for on-road quiet than all-out handling.
The 2013 Buick Encore's dynamic liability is its turbocharged 1.4-liter engine. That engine works fine in the much lighter Sonic, but the result here is that the Encore feels slow, and not just by leadfoot standards, but by the standards of anyone who feels the need to accelerate to highway speeds. Not helping matters is the Encore's transmission programming, which races to 6th gear as quickly as possible and is reluctant to downshift.
Fit and finish throughout the Encore's cabin is generally pretty good, and well-placed soft-touch materials and splashes of wood tone and metallic accents provide a luxury vibe. Buick's standard IntelliLink system and its 7-inch control touchscreen dominate the center stack. There are a lot of buttons here, but we like the added redundancy they provide, and overall the Encore's IntelliLink is fast, reliable and easy to use as infotainment and smartphone app integration systems go.
Up front there's plenty of room all around, and the wide seats prove comfortable on long road trips. Those seats are also pleasantly high, providing a commanding view around and above traffic as well as easing entry/exit. In back, there's ample legroom even for 6-footers, though there's less rear shoulder and hip room than in most compact crossovers due to the 2013 Encore's narrower cabin.
When it comes to cargo-carrying duty, the Encore is ready, as the rear seats and the front passenger seat fold flat, allowing transport of longer (up to 8 feet) items. With all seats in place, there are 18.8 cubic feet of space. Folding the rear seats down expands that to 48.4 cubes; this is noticeably better than the Mini Countryman (42.2 cubic feet), but noticeably less than you'll get from the next-size-up compact crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, which offers a comparatively cavernous 71 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating4 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover19.8%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
Make no mistake, America is downsizing. No, we're not sending New England back to old England — yet — but with ever higher fuel costs and the fiscal cliff threatening to send our economy headfirst into a gorge like so many Plains bison, Americans are taking a closer look at their personal ratio of needs to wants more than ever before.
In response to this, Buick has taken a closer look at its product portfolio and found a gap in the market. One occupied by young, impulsive urban professionals with a steady income and an eagerness to treat themselves to the finer things. And, on the opposite side of life, by empty-nesters who may have already downsized their homes and are looking to ditch that fuel-slugging, hard-to-park SUV in favor of something more reasonable for two.
Normally, only one of these demographics would be the expected target, but the 2013 Buick Encore is different. First of all, it doesn't look like a Buick. Secondly, Buick understands that these two customers are likely to buy this vehicle purely for themselves and have taken up the arduous task of turning a small crossover into a luxury car with quiet tuning and a bucket full of tech.
One Engine for Everyone
Buick readily admits that the quirky-looking, in-between-size Encore isn't for everyone, which is why it's only expecting to sell roughly 30,000 or so a year. (Updated: a representative from Buick provided an updated, but still unofficial, sales target.) And for a low-volume car in the $25,000 range, developing and certifying multiple powertrains doesn't make fiscal sense. That's why the lone engine in the 2013 Buick Encore is a 1.4-liter, 138-horsepower turbocharged inline-4.
This is the same engine that does duty in the 2012 Chevy Cruze and Chevy Sonic, but backed by a transmission with slightly different gear ratios. Still, we're going to do some bench racing here to try to put this engine's performance into perspective.
The 2011 Chevy Cruze weighs in at 3,236 pounds. On our test track the 1.4-liter-equipped Chevy Cruze dragged itself to 60 in 9.6 seconds and crossed the quarter-mile line in 17.1 seconds at 80.4 mph. At 3,190 pounds, the Encore is far less bulky than it looks, but it's not light enough to make any noticeable difference. Like the Cruze, the Encore is slow, not just by leadfoot standards, but by the standards of anyone who feels the need to accelerate to highway speeds.
Similarly, asking the Encore to downshift just by stomping the gas is like asking your local librarian to drop a Skrillex jam. There's confusion and anger. The Encore races to 6th gear as fast as possible and never, ever wants to leave it. Eventually, though, the Encore will kick down one or two fewer gears than is absolutely necessary, forcing the driver to use the manual buttons on top of the shift lever. We have no idea why Buick went with this design, but it's unnatural and awkward.
The High Side of Low Power
As you were likely quick to figure out, Buick's decision to drop the diminutive 1.4-liter into the Encore was influenced by the need to earn impressive fuel economy figures. According to the EPA, in front-drive trim, the 2013 Buick Encore will return 25 city, 33 highway and 28 combined mpg. And thanks to its 13.7-gallon fuel tank size, the Encore is thus capable of an EPA-estimated range of 345 miles.
Again, we'll harken back to our experience with our long-term Cruze in which we averaged 25.3 mpg in notoriously tough Los Angeles traffic and hit 32-plus mpg on the highway without much trouble. After a few hundred miles in the Encore, the digital readout showed 25.9 mpg. According to Buick, the Encore's EPA numbers make it the most efficient crossover from a domestic automaker. Competition on that front includes the Ford Escape (23/33/26) and the Jeep Compass (23/26/30).
In addition to solid efficiency, the Encore's engine also scores points for its level of refinement. Cruising along in 6th, you'd be hard-pressed to know that there was an internal-combustion engine up front. It's beyond whisper-quiet thanks to a number of "quiet-tuning" tricks, including an active sound-cancellation system by Bose.
This system uses three microphones — two up front, one in the rear — to detect unpleasant noises like the resonance of the road and natural harmonic hums by the engine/transmission, and then employs the car's speakers, subwoofer and amp to produce an equal but opposite wave. On smooth pavement, the only difference between stopped and 80 mph is some wind noise from the top of the windscreen.
Drives Like a Buick
We're not entirely sure when it happened, but sometime in the past few years, Buicks started to drive well. They don't try to follow the Germans down the path of firm and tightly damped, and they don't follow the traditional American formula of more springs and more weight.
Today's Buicks — from the vastly underrated 2013 LaCrosse to the midsize 2013 Regal — drive with a sort of relaxed, composed comfort. They'll sail over road imperfections, completely isolating the driver, but do so without the bobbing and buoying we used to associate with big cars. And while it's not a big car per se, the Encore has this same sense of on-road composure.
In front-drive trim, the Encore has 6.2 inches of ground clearance. That's not a huge number, but it does scoot the center of gravity up a bit, which gives the Encore some lean into corners. Anyone who's coming into the Encore from a crossover or SUV won't notice a thing, but buyers stepping into a crossover for the first time will notice a touch more lean and some delayed turn-in. There's a surprising amount of grip, though, especially considering that the only tire is a 215/55R18 Continental chosen specifically for its on-road quietness.
Nobody will confuse the Encore for a performance car — ever — but the steering is accurate enough to dodge would-be roadkill with ease and keep you out of the ditches. More importantly, the Encore is remarkably stable and has that road-hugging feel that used to require an additional 1,000 pounds of weight to achieve. This is a small vehicle that absolutely eats miles.
Small Package, Big Room
As the chassis is well-sorted for doing long-distance slogs, the folks behind the interior on the 2013 Encore had a tough task ahead of them: fitting 10 pounds of luxury into a 5-pound bag. To this end, and to the front-seat passengers, the Encore is a success.
Headroom is expectedly good in the wide, flat front seats and, for a vehicle that's only 69.9 inches wide, there is plenty of shoulder and hip room. The front seats are also pleasantly high, affording a bird's-eye view of the surrounding traffic and easing entry/exit.
This front seat excellence comes at the expense of rear-seat room. This near 6-foot editor had plenty of legroom, but that's not much of a consolation when there's nowhere to put your arms, shoulders or hips. Again, though, this vehicle was not entirely intended for rear-seat passengers. Perhaps a grandkid or two or a friend who missed the train, but primarily it was built for two. Rear-facing child seats, too, are in the "rarely" camp.
Dominating the center console is Buick's standard IntelliLink system and its 7-inch control touchscreen. IntelliLink lumps together Bluetooth, radio controls and navigation if so equipped. The center console is littered with buttons, which are virtually all redundant controls of both the touchscreen, the center control knob and the system's voice activation. In an increasingly touch-panel, textureless world, buttons and redundancy are awesome. The knobs especially have a solid, reassuring click. There's no looking away from the road for confirmation of anything in the Encore. Everything simply works as you want it to the first time. IntelliLink doesn't have flashy graphics or a hip app-based layout, but it's fast, reliable and easy to use. We'll take that every day.
Nearly all of these features, however, can be found in a similarly equipped Buick Verano, which offers a more conventional look and a more conventional sedan appearance. What separates the Encore is its cargo-carrying capacity. The rear seats and the front passenger seat fold completely flat (though the rears are a bit tricky to use), which allows storage of up to an 8-foot item.
With all seats in place, there's 18.8 cubic feet of space, or enough for two carry-ons and two briefcases or one medium-large-size dog. Folding the rear seats down opens up 48.4 cubic feet of space, room for more luggage than two people will ever need or half an Iditarod team.
It's Still Your Grandmother's Buick...and Now Yours, Too
In these austere economic times, Buick is offering luxury without the pomp and flash, and an increasingly unique and composed ride quality. Currently, Buick is outselling Acura, Audi, Infiniti and Lincoln and it's doing it without the help of a reasonably sized crossover. Ignore the question over whether Buick should have built a crossover on the architecture of the Chevy Sonic (only the engine and seat frames are shared). It's done, and it's here.
For now, the 2013 Buick Encore is a unique offering with its composed ride, tomblike quietness and intuitive connectivity in a compact crossover. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the powertrain or the interior refinement to give any of the established luxury brands a run for their money, and that will only get worse with the introduction of the Audi Q3 next year.
At $24,950 and 30-plus mpg, though, that may not matter. Buick put its money on a quiet, controlled ride and a feature-rich interior. Where will you put yours?
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2013 Buick Encore Overview
The Used 2013 Buick Encore is offered in the following submodels: Encore SUV. Available styles include Convenience 4dr SUV (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Leather 4dr SUV (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), 4dr SUV (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Leather 4dr SUV AWD (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Premium 4dr SUV (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Premium 4dr SUV AWD (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Convenience 4dr SUV AWD (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and 4dr SUV AWD (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A). Pre-owned Buick Encore models are available with a 1.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 138 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2013 Buick Encore comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2013 Buick Encore comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 6 yr./ 70000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 70000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2013 Buick Encore?
Price comparisons for Used 2013 Buick Encore trim styles:
- The Used 2013 Buick Encore Convenience is priced between $13,900 and$18,990 with odometer readings between 16665 and101773 miles.
- The Used 2013 Buick Encore Base is priced between $14,990 and$14,990 with odometer readings between 78261 and78261 miles.
- The Used 2013 Buick Encore Leather is priced between $15,990 and$15,990 with odometer readings between 76640 and76640 miles.
- The Used 2013 Buick Encore Premium is priced between $15,990 and$15,990 with odometer readings between 75707 and75707 miles.
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Which used 2013 Buick Encores are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2013 Buick Encore for sale near. There are currently 5 used and CPO 2013 Encores listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $13,900 and mileage as low as 16665 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Buick Encore.
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Find a used Buick Encore for sale - 8 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $12,317.
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Find a used certified pre-owned Buick Encore for sale - 6 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $17,783.
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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Buick Encore?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.