Near-luxury crossovers, a segment that slots below entry-luxury models like the BMW X3 and Lexus RX, are still in their infancy, but Buick throws its hat in the ring with the Encore. Slotting far below the three-row Enclave, the Encore stretches the limits of entry-luxury crossovers, taking on models that haven't even arrived here yet: the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. Shoppers might also compare it to premium models from non-luxury brands such as the Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5.
Front-wheel drive, a small turbo four-cylinder and an automatic transmission are standard. All-wheel drive is optional.
The Encore is small, nearly 3 feet shorter and 9.1 inches narrower than the Enclave. The overall shape looks like GM's erstwhile Saturn Vue, with Buick cues in the grille, faux hood portals and blue-tinged headlights. Faux vents cut a chunk from the lights themselves, and the lower flanks can have a darker finish. Short overhangs characterize the profile, which sits on 18-inch aluminum wheels.
The cabin's wraparound shapes and earthy hues recall other Buick dashboards, but active noise cancellation in the Encore is a Buick first. Buick's IntelliLink multimedia system is standard; it can stream smartphone applications through a 7-inch dash display. Like the Verano sedan, the Encore comes with standard leatherette-and-cloth or optional full-leather seats. Other options include heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system and a backup camera.
Behind the rear seats is 18.5 cubic feet of cargo room. Fold the seats down and the Encore has 48.4 cubic feet, which is closer to hatchback than SUV territory, but similar to the space in the X1 and Q3, Buick says. The Encore's fold-flat front passenger seat allows for longer, narrow cargo to fit.
Under the hood
GM's turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder is the sole engine. With 140 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque, the tiny four-cylinder works through a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional.
Ten airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. Forward collision and lane departure warning systems are optional.