You wouldn't guess it at first glance, but the diminutive 2017 Buick Encore actually embodies many of the elements that Buick, a brand known for building large luxury sedans, has traditionally stood for. Those elements include a hushed cabin, near-luxury trim, and a long list of upscale features.
For 2017, the Encore gets a few small updates to keep pace with a growing class of competitors. A subtly restyled front end includes new headlights and a new grille design. LED taillamps add additional visibility when you hit the brakes, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are welcome additions to the upgraded technology interface. The instrument panel also features a new design that includes easier-to-use controls and a new gauge cluster layout.
The Encore's small size makes for impressive maneuverability in urban traffic and parking lots, but its base engine leaves the little crossover wanting more when it comes time to enter the freeway. The optional four-cylinder engine that offers a bit more horsepower is worth serious consideration.
Many buyers might still be put off by the Encore's snug interior, which includes a tight backseat and less cargo room than larger crossovers like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. There's also an insurgence of similarly subcompact competitors to contend with, including the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Fiat 500X.
Standard safety features for the 2017 Buick Encore include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front knee airbags, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Also included is OnStar, which provides automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.
A blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on Sport Touring and higher trim levels, while forward collision and lane departure warning systems are standard on the Encore Premium.
In government crash tests the Encore received a perfect five-star rating for overall crash protection, frontal protection and side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Encore the highest possible rating of Good in its moderate-overlap and small-overlap front-impact, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.
In Edmunds testing, a front-drive Encore stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is average for this class.
Driving the 2017 Buick Encore is an experience very much in line with what you'd expect from Buick. The cabin is extremely quiet for the segment with extensive sound-deadening materials and active noise-cancelling technology. The suspension is also tuned to favor comfort over handling, and so not surprisingly it soaks up most bumps with little drama. The short wheelbase does mean the ride can get choppy over freeway expansion joints, however.
On the handling front, the Encore feels confident if not particularly sporty, a setup we suspect will suit most buyers just fine. On the upside, this SUV's small size and tight turning radius give it a nimble feel larger compact SUVs can't match.
When equipped with the standard 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder 138-hp engine, the Encore feels a little too slow for our tastes. Unless you're interested in maximum fuel efficiency, we would advise you to consider the optional 153-hp engine.
The 2017 Buick Encore features comfortable front seats and a high seating position that offers a commanding view of the road. In back, the seats offer enough head- and legroom for 6-footers but there's no denying that it's a tight fit for both adults and rear-facing child seats. The interior layout includes a number of storage spaces, including a drawer under the front passenger seat on cloth-upholstered models that's useful for stashing valuables you'd rather not leave out in plain sight.
As for the surroundings, the Encore's cabin has a high-end atmosphere on higher trim levels, featuring soft-touch materials and handsome simulated wood and metal trim. Aside from a smattering of similar-looking buttons, the controls are fairly intuitive and easy to access. A high point for this year is the improved layout of the center stack controls, including the updated 8-inch center touchscreen for the IntelliLink infotainment system.
The interior also comes up short in the cargo-carrying department, with 18.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 48.4 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded down. Those numbers are similar to subcompact SUV competitors, but fall far short of more popular compact crossovers like the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V. The Encore's standard fold-flat front passenger seat does give it some added flexibility.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.