2018 Buick Encore Premium FWD
By Phil Shuyler
Small but mighty comes to mind when I think of the Buick Encore. This is more of a term of endearment than a fact. It’s definitely a small package, however it’s certainly not mighty. The 1.4L 4-cylinder variable valve timing Ecotec turbo engine gives you barely enough power and may leave some wanting more. It’s rated at 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. The 6-speed automatic transmission was smooth and silky working along with the front-wheel drivetrain (AWD is available).
Perhaps the mighty could refer to the Encore’s versatility. It may have limited cargo capacity (18.80 ft³) with the rear seats folded up, however that figure is not what attracts people to this tiny crossover. It’s the fact that it has a small footprint and a versatile storage area (up to 48.40 ft³) with the rear seats folded down. The flexibility of a compact crossover would fit the needs of most people or families of 4 or less, so the Encore can make a lot of practical sense. Its size and tight turning radius make it easy to maneuver around town, however for being so small, there are large blind spots created by the C pillars. So you’ll want to double check your mirrors, blind spots, and use the Side Blind Zone Alert lights before changing lanes.
Besides the blindspots, the Encore is a pleasure to drive, and achieves a respectable 25 city and 33 highway MPG rating. The all-wheel-drive option is rated at 23 city and 30 highway, and adds $1,500 to the price tag.
Buick and GM vehicles are making a big push toward mandatory auto start/stop functionality for their engines. This technology (which turns the engine off when the vehicle comes to a stop, and turns it back on when the vehicle begins to move) has great potential, however right now it’s mainly just annoying. Once the engine turns off, the HVAC decreases and it almost immediately starts to get hot or cold inside the cabin, depending on the outside temperature. The Encore is available with or without start/stop technology, however if you choose to purchase the engine with this feature, keep in mind that you can no longer turn it on and off. It only stays on. If you’d prefer to have it off, make sure you purchase the engine without start/stop built-in.
Some of the other safety features available on the Encore include rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, rear vision camera, stability control, lane departure warning, and lots and lots of airbags – all giving the Encore a 5-star overall safety rating.
The exterior styling is conservative yet modern, and I’ve heard a lot of people describe it as “cute.” So depending on the image you’re going for, that may or may not be a good adjective for your new ride.
The 8” infotainment system looks crisp and clean, and responds quickly to input. CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard, and an integrated navigation system is optional.
The starting price for a 2018 Buick Encore is $22,990, and with options that price can grow to over $35,000 for a fully loaded Premium trim model. As tested, our vehicle was priced at $35,420.
Overall, the Encore comes in at an affordable price point that will fit the budgets of most people. It gives you shades of luxury for a non-luxury price.