The 2017 Buick Encore has a new style and some new tech [Review]

Buick Encore RSF

For those Buick fans that don’t want or need a vehicle as large as the Enclave, Buick bowed with a right-sized option in 2013 in the form of the Encore 5-passenger crossover vehicle. The 2017 Buick Encore came across initially as a mini Enclave anyway – an intentional styling move according to members of the Buick design and marketing teams. Buick’s goal and focus with the Encore was, and still is to appeal to fuel economy conscious consumers who also desire a more compact packaging without sacrificing luxury, functionality and versatility.

The Encore is Buick’s best-selling vehicle and are built at Bupyeong, South Korea. It shares a platform with the Chevrolet Trax.

The 2017 Buick Encore is available in five levels of trim including the base Encore, Encore Convenience, Encore Leather, Encore Premium and Encore Sport Touring. New for the 2017 model year are an all-new sculpted front-end appearance with new headlamps featuring LED signature lighting; a new hood and new front fenders; an updated interior with a cockpit-style design and an emphasis on premium materials, chrome accents and contrast stitching; a redesigned instrument panel with a new gauge cluster and 4.2-inch color driver information center; a center stack intuitive for IntelliLink use and 8-inch color touch screen; available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity; push-button start; keyless unlock via exterior door handles with extended range remote keyless entry and push-button keyless start.

All Encores are available in either a front-wheel drive configuration or an optional active on-demand all-wheel drive configuration and will draw their motive force from a fuel efficient 1.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve Ecotec turbocharged, inline 4-cylinder engine with sequential multiport fuel injection and variable valve timing that produces 138 horsepower at 4,900 rpm along with 148 lb-ft of torque at 1,850 rpm.

Power is transferred to the driving wheels through a Hydra-Matic 6T40 electronically controlled six-speed automatic with overdrive, including Driver Shift Control via a thumb rocker switch atop the shift lever (AWD models only).

Encore is a fuel-efficient crossover, with an EPA-estimated 25 mpg city and 33-mpg highway for front-drive models. All-wheel drive models will be rated at 23-mpg city, and 30-mpg highway. Sport Touring models feature a 1.4L turbo engine that generates more horsepower and torque than the standard engine.

In terms of its visual appeal, the Encore delivers an elegantly designed and contemporary exterior, starting up front with a waterfall grille, chrome accents and surrounds, and composite lower panels – rockers and front and rear fascias. Standard body-color door handles with chrome strips and a styled, stainless steel exhaust tip add to Encore’s upscale look. Blue-accented halogen composite projector-beam headlamps and detailed taillamps further enhance the stylish exterior; with 18-inch, ten-spoke painted aluminum wheels as standard fare.

Moving to the inside, the Encore’s distinctive exterior styling cues carry over to a flowing instrument panel that wraps gracefully into the door panels. A prominent central instrument panel houses a voice-activated infotainment system featuring a seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color display for the standard IntelliLink system. It also features displays for the SiriusXM satellite radio and standard rear-view camera, along with an available GPS-enabled navigation system. There are also two glove boxes.

The cabin is distinguished by an all-ebony or a contemporary blend of dark and light tones accented with ice-blue ambient lighting, and a select use of bright chrome and faux woodgrain trim accents. The premium seats are constructed of high-density foam for enhanced comfort. They come trimmed in either a contemporary cloth/leatherette or in available premium leather. A 60/40 flat-folding rear seat features a fold-down armrest with cup holders. Interior upholstery and color combinations include a variety of choices.

Encore provides ample storage, including eight beverage holders, storage in all four doors, four dash bins, seatback pockets, an available bin beneath the passenger seat and bins under the rear load floor around the spare tire. It offers 18.8 cubic feet of storage behind the split-folding rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat. Even with the rear seat in place, there’s room for a number of full grocery bags. When the rear seat is folded, there’s room for golf clubs and overnight bags for a weekend getaway. The front passenger seat folds flat to extend the cargo length and accommodate longer items.

My test 2017 Buick Encore was an AWD model in the Premium trim that sported a White Frost Tricoat exterior with a Brandy and Ebony toned interior. The base sticker was set at $30,465, while options elevated the final total to $34,675.

The 2017 Buick Encore is unquestionably just the right size for many consumers, not to mention perhaps the perfect size, with all the right features at an almost unbelievable price point considering the high level of desirable feature content.

There were some fellow auto journalists who felt that the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-banger was lacking in power. Admittedly, 138 horses and 148 pound feet of torque are not staggering, but I found the performance to be quite adequate for its intended audience and purpose. The transmission shifts smoothly even in manual mode, but I would have preferred paddle shifters to the thumb switch.

Road manners delivered a flat, stable ride and the electronic power steering offered a positive on-center feel. The front seat’s bolstering provided ample support and comfort during spirited driving maneuvers, while the rear seats fold flat, as does the front passenger seat to accommodate longer items adding to cargo flexibility and versatility.

Another issue arose as questionable. The Bose noise-canceling sub-woofer that was mounted inside the spare tire, required removal to access the spare. An issue in earlier model Encores was the lack of sliding visor extenders, which has since been resolved. The addition of a secondary, fold-down visor would prove to be a safety benefit as well – not just in the new Encore, but also in all vehicles.

In the final analysis, the 2017 Buick Encore AWD Premium serves up a winning package – as popular as its European counterpart – the Trax, which is now available to our shores, or perhaps even more so. Both vehicles are based on GM’s global Gamma platform.

2017 Buick Encore Specifications

Base Price: $30,465
Price As Tested: $34,675
Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
Horsepower: 138 hp @ 4,900 rpm
Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 1,850 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front engine/all-wheel drive
EPA fuel mileage: 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity: 14.0 gallons
Wheelbase: 100.6 inches
Length: 168.4 inches
Width: 69.9 inches
Height: 65.2 inches
Curb Weight: 3,358 lbs