2018 Buick Encore

2018 Buick Encore Review

The Encore is quieter and more feature-packed than similarly sized competitors.
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Like other subcompact crossover SUVs, the 2018 Buick Encore's core appeal is its maneuverability and fuel efficiency. But the Encore is also a bit more upscale than the norm. It has more standard and optional features, and its interior is quieter at highway speeds.

The Encore's performance, however, is still a little disappointing. The Encore is related to the Chevrolet Trax, and both have a base 138-horsepower turbocharged engine. Acceleration is slow, and real-world fuel economy is underwhelming. Buick offers a more powerful 153-hp engine upgrade, but it's not a huge difference. Additionally, you'll typically pay more to get an Encore compared similarly sized rivals.

From our standpoint, the Encore's appeal largely depends on what you're looking for. If you like its size and mix of premium features, it's more than likely an ideal pick. But you should also look at the Mazda CX-3, which is just as nice and less expensive to boot. Additionally, the Encore's price is pretty close to what you'll pay for a roomier crossover, such as the Chevrolet Equinox and Honda CR-V.

Overall, we recommend a few test drives of competitors, but if you're looking for a nimble, relatively upscale subcompact crossover SUV, the 2018 Buick Encore certainly has some curb appeal.

What's new for 2018

The 2018 Buick Encore carries over unchanged.

We recommend

The Encore's base trim level is appealing with all of its standard equipment, but we recommend upgrading to the Essence trim level. It offers heated seats, a heated steering wheel, leather seating, a few extra safety items and the more powerful 153-horsepower engine. The standard 1.4-liter engine is down on power. If you want to get this subcompact moving in a hurry, the increase in power is a must

Trim levels & features

The 2018 Buick Encore is a compact crossover SUV offered in six trim levels: 1SV, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence and Premium. Less expensive Encores come standard with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine (138 hp, 148 lb-ft), a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. From the Sport Touring trim level on up, there's a more powerful 1.4-liter engine (153 hp, 177 lb-ft) available. Every trim aside from the base 1SV is also available with all-wheel drive as an option.

For the most part, the base 1SV and Preferred trim levels are equipped similarly. On both, you get 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, keyless ignition and entry, heated mirrors, roof rails, rear privacy glass, air-conditioning, cruise control, a power driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat and 60/40-split folding rear seats.

Technology features include OnStar communications (with 4G LTE and an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot), a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and two USB ports. Also included is Buick's IntelliLink electronics interface, which features an 8-inch touchscreen and smartphone app integration.

On the Preferred, you also get floor mats and a cargo cover.

Stepping up to the Sport Touring model means the addition of foglights, a rear spoiler and remote start to the base model's features. Options include a seven-speaker Bose sound system and a blind-spot monitoring system.

The Preferred II adds dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, and the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems.

Moving up to Essence adds LED headlights, leather upholstery, a six-way power passenger seat (with manual recline and power lumbar), heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and driver-seat memory settings.

Finally, the top-of-the-line Premium trim adds front and rear parking sensors, a forward collision warning system, a lane departure warning system, automatic wipers and the seven-speaker Bose sound system.

The Preferred II, Essence and Premium are available with the Experience Buick package, which adds 18-inch chromed alloy wheels, a sunroof and a navigation system. The latter two items are available separately on all but the base model.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our cumulative experience with the current generation Buick Encore (turbo 1.4L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).


The Buick Encore does well as a city commuter car. It's nimble in traffic and gets away from a stoplight quickly. But passing power is lacking for stress-free highway acceleration and passing. Handling is far from sporty.


The Encore is relatively comfortable. It's quiet on the highway, which is one of its best features, and the ride quality is relaxed without being wallowy.


Though it's small, the Encore has plenty of space for front passengers. Adults will fit in the rear without too much trouble. Build and materials quality are on par with that of other vehicles in the class, but the Encore's cabin does look dated because of its numerous dashboard buttons.


Behind the rear seats, the Encore has 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space available. With the rear seats folded, that number goes up to 48.3 cubes. That's more than enough for a moderate load of groceries, but most compact crossovers do better.


The infotainment system is easy to learn, and combined with OnStar, provides a robust set of features. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity. Only the Premium trim gets a full suite of active safety features, but some are available on the lower trim levels.

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.