2016 Encore New Car Test Drive
The Buick Encore is a small crossover SUV that rivals the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 along with the more mainstream Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax.
Its tall and boxy profile is somewhat ameliorated by a steeply raked front end and oversize 18-inch wheels. Encore is unusually quiet, reasonably spacious, and amply equipped. Feeble performance detracts from its hoped-for status as a premium model. Encore is structurally related to the Chevrolet Sonic.
Only one powertrain is available: a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder driving a 6-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control. Front-wheel drive is standard, optional all-wheel drive is available for harsh-weather traction.
Little has changed for 2016, except for revised seven-spoke 18-inch wheels. New for 2016 is a Sport Touring trim level with special exterior trim and a turbocharged engine making 153 horsepower.
While the cabin feels somewhat narrow, the back holds two adults with a degree of comfort. Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, with a seven-inch touch-screen, can run smartphone apps via Bluetooth. OnStar 4G LTE telematics can create a WiFi network right in the car.
Fuel economy is good, but not thrifty enough for a vehicle in this category. The front-wheel-drive Encore is EPA-rated at 25/33 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined.
As for crash-testing, Encore has scored among the best small crossover SUVs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made it a Top Safety Pick, rate Good in three tests. That was a considerable improvement over 2014, when Encore was deemed Poor in the small-overlap trial. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave Encore five stars overall.
The 2016 Buick Encore comes in five trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional.
Encore ($24,065) is abundantly equipped, with air conditioning; rearview camera; power driver's seat; active noise cancellation; Ice Blue ambient lighting; cargo cover; remote keyless entry; and 18-inch alloy wheels. Cloth upholstery includes simulated leather trim. OnStar 4G LTE telematics is standard. So is IntelliLink infotainment with a seven-inch screen, using voice commands or a control knob. Convenience ($26,355) adds dual-zone automatic climate control, blind-zone monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and remote start.
Leather ($28,300) comes with heated front seats, a power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver's memory, auto-dimming mirror, and remote starter. Blind-zone monitoring includes rear cross-traffic alert. Premium ($29,785) includes Bose premium sound, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, heated leather-appointed seating, and heated steering wheel. Options include navigation, Bose audio, and a sunroof.
Sport Touring ($27,350), added during the 2016 model year, features a 153-hp turbocharged engine, stop/start operation, a rear spoiler, and special 18-inch wheels.
Safety begins with 10 airbags and a rearview camera. Options include blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert.