With the SUV/CUV/Crossover craze showing no signs of slowing down, the options available to the Canadian consumer are plentiful. For the most part, sedan sales are dwindling and folks want more functionality from their vehicles. As a brand that is enjoying revitalization and increased popularity, Buick offers a subcompact crossover via its Encore line that finds a balance between a traditional sedan and SUV/CUV. You get the benefits of a slightly higher driving position and the usefulness of a slightly larger and taller vehicle without having to move to a vehicle that’s too big for your lifestyle needs. With the Encore being a popular seller for Buick, let’s see what the 2016 model has to offer.
Beneath the hood is where you’ll find a six-speed automatic gearbox through four-cylinder 1.4L turbocharged engine producing 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque.
Alternatively, the top “Sport Touring” trim sees some refinement in the engine giving it 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft. of torque.
The regular engine is adequate for city jaunts but does take a few extra seconds to reach higher speeds. Interestingly, the Chevrolet Sonic sees the same engine as the Encore - take from that what you will. My takeaway is that the Sonic must be full of zip seeing as it’s much smaller and lighter than the Encore.
What I’d like to see is the larger engine become standard fare for all Encore trims. In a premium segment, even 15 horsepower can make a difference.
My tester, the Premium Front Wheel Drive trim, has a fuel rating of 9.5 city, 7.2 highway and 8.5 combined for L/100km through a 53L tank of gas. The drive itself is good and road noise is at a minimum. Again, with the smaller engine, give yourself a few extra seconds to make any maneuvers at high speeds. Also, due to the taller stance and short body, going around corners at higher speeds certainly isn’t recommended.
The heated leather appointed seats are comfortable and are powered six-ways. However, the seat back portion is manual, which to me is an odd offering in a luxury vehicle. The “Experience Buick Package” add on for $2,890 sees the addition of a 7” colour screen, navigation and a power moon roof.
What I’m not crazy about is the centre console, seeing as it has far too many small buttons to operate the system. With over 40 buttons, let’s hope they streamline the design of the next model by incorporating a touchscreen offering that reduces the button count. The rest of the cabin is full of premium materials and everything you come in contact with is nice and soft, like a luxury vehicle should be.
A rear view camera comes standard and the suite of safety features come along with higher trims.
Storage space clocks in at 532 litres in the trunk and 1,371 litres with the seats down. A cool factor is that the front passenger seat folds flat so your skis/snowboards/Billy Bookshelves can be transported inside the vehicle as opposed to on the roof.
Starting at the very low $30K mark, the 2016 Buick Encore is an easy way to move into the luxury segment. For the few changes I’d make (full power seats, bigger engine, less buttons on the console) there are still plenty of positives, mainly ride quality, space and comfort.
Overall, the Encore is built for those who want an upscale crossover with a smaller physical footprint along with a lot of functionality. Whether that be the millennials or the boomers, there’s a good reason to give Buick’s most popular seller a look or two.
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