We Like: Surprisingly fun to drive. Looks good, too
We Don’t Like: Bouncy ride; loud, vibration-filled cabin
This might sound crazy, but this pint-sized South Korean–built, Opel-engineered crossover is a compelling vehicle.
Buick ditched the old jelly bean styling for handsome new sheetmetal, cleaned up the cluttered interior by installing a slick Apple CarPlay–friendly IntelliLink system, and added a slightly more powerful 154-hp 1.4-liter turbo I-4 to complement the base 138-hp engine.
For being a stubby, tall crossover, the Encore is surprisingly nice to drive. Sure, the standard six-speed auto prefers to think of gears two through five as vestigial organs, but once it kicks down, the updated engine is, as Scott Evans put it, “surprisingly stout,” though the little engine gets noticeably coarse as it nears the upper reaches of the tachometer. The Buick handles pretty nicely, too, driving more like a subcompact car than a crossover.
Inside, the updated cabin is tastefully executed. The front seats are comfortable, if a bit flat. The back seats are super-tight on the legs, as you’d expect, but offer up decent headroom. That being said, taller passengers will want to watch their heads when getting in and out.
Where the Buick falls down is in refinement. Ride quality is unlike other Buicks—bouncy and harsh—and the amount of wind noise entering the cabin betrays the Encore’s economy-car roots. The Encore is Buick’s best-seller. But with this segment growing evermore competitive, Buick needs to improve its game if it wants the Encore’s hot streak to continue.
Read about other 2018 SUV of the Year contenders:
- Audi Q5
- BMW X4
- Buick Envision
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Jeep Compass
- Maserati Levante
- Mazda CX-5
- Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
- Nissan Rogue Sport
- Volkswagen Tiguan
- Volvo V90 Cross Country
|2017 Buick Encore AWD (Premium)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$35,675|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||1.4L/153-hp/177-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,385 lb (61/39%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||168.4 x 69.9 x 65.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||10.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||17.9 sec @ 77.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||126 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.72 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||29.6 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||26/31/28 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||130/109 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.69 lb/mile|