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Trying to zero in on the Buick Encore leads us to the conclusion that the only place it really fits is in buyers' driveways. Every member of its so-called competitive set – we've read everything from the Ford C-Max to the Nissan Juke to the Volkswagen Tiguan to the BMW X1 – is so different in small yet fundamental ways that the Encore neatly slinks between them all, and with 48,892 sales in 2014, it doesn't stop slinking until it reaches consumer garages. That success, and preparation for the aggrandizing of the compact CUV segment, is why General Motors is upping production for the US market by 50 percent.

Analysts keep predicting there will be more shoppers for tiny crossovers, and that's why those that don't have them are getting them. Yet the Encore came out in 2013 before people realized the power of the segment, and it has substantially out-performed GM and observer expectations: analysts predicted 18,500 US sales in 2013 and 25,000 in 2015; in 2013 we wrote, "We admit it. We have no earthly idea how this whole thing is going to shake out." It shook out 31,046 sales in 2013, puffing that number up by more than 50 percent last year. GM thinks that this year it will it will go from Buick's third-best-selling vehicle to its best-selling vehicle.

GM wants that to continue, what with the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Mazda CX-3 on the way. Dealers say they'd sell more if they could get them, and the four-month lead time at the moment between a dealer ordering and taking delivery – about double the normal time – creates a handicap. Plants in Mexico, Korea, and Spain will hive off production to bolster US inventory to keep the "downsizing empty nesters" who love it, happy. Seeing as the coming competition is falls meaningfully outside the Buick's combination of traits, there's a chance its popular tale can continue.


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