One of the many trends in the automotive industry is toward smaller vehicles. That usually means cars, too, not SUVs or crossovers. But Buick decided to go the miniaturization route with a crossover/SUV -- enter the 2014 Buick Encore.
At 168 inches long, and weighing in at about 3,200 pounds, the 2014 Buick Encore crossover/SUV creates a dainty footprint which made our garage feel positively massive. This is not necessarily a vehicle we’d suggest for some families, but for couples or a family with younger children, the sizing might be just right.
Not wanting to make “small” the exclusive characteristic, the 2014 Buick Encore is also very much a “luxury” vehicle too. That makes the Encore something buyers feel comfortable downsizing to, or something that’s aspirational for shoppers moving up. The crossover configuration also means less compromise in cargo capacity and all-wheel drive for those that need more traction.
The Encore draws its inspiration from the full-size Buick Enclave with its long graceful lines and plush appointments. However, it’s over 200 inches long, weighs 4,700-pounds and seats seven – for many that’s size gluttony.
Nearly three feet shorter and 1,500 pounds lighter, the Buick Encore brings the opulence of the Enclave to a much smaller size. With styling cues inspired by the popular Enclave, the Encore too, has nicely sculptured lines, the trademark chrome waterfall grille and large 18-inch wheels. Tasteful chrome accents include Buick’s signature portholes mounted on the hood. The overall look has a racy raked-out look that gives an in-motion look even at a standstill.
Designed for a global market, the Encore is powered by a 138-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine which drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Needless to say, it’s not overly quick, with 0 to 60 mph taking 9.1 seconds according to buff magazine clocks.
All Encore models are also available with all-wheel drive ($1,500 option). The EPA rates it at 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway making it the highest fuel economy of any FWD crossover offered in the U.S. We averaged 28.1 mpg during our time behind the wheel.
One very notable feature of the Buick Encore is the quiet interior. Buick is noted for their “quiet” engineering and it’s more than a slogan. To achieve the quiet for the Encore, quiet engineers used abundant sound deadening materials and technologies to keep the unwanted sounds from occurring. Engineers have also integrated the same active Bose technology used in the headsets many airline passengers use. The system uses ceiling-mounted microphones to detect noises and identify the frequencies. It then broadcasts counteracting sound waves to mask the unwanted sounds. It sounds like magic, and it works.
The Encore interior is filled with premium materials, French stitched trims, wood accents and a touch of chrome. It has a very upscale look that’s available in Ebony, Medium Titanium and Saddle.
Barbara is obsessed with organization and the Encore is a great example of what she likes, with four storage compartments in the dash, seat back pockets, multiple door compartments and even bins under the front passenger’s seat and the rear load floor. The interior space is also larger than it would appear looking at the petite exterior. Two adults comfortably fit on the rear bench seat, but three will be tight. Cargo space is nearly 19 cubic feet and expands to more than 48 cubic feet when the rear seat back is folded flat.
Available in four trim levels, all Encore models offer an equipment list that includes features like 18-inch aluminum wheels, satellite radio, rear vision camera, Bluetooth®, power driver’s seat and Buick IntelliLink Internet connectivity. Upper trim levels add equipment like a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, Rainsense wipers, leather seating and park assist. Standalone options include premium audio with navigation, sunroof and several convenience accessories.
We thought the navigation and audio systems were a little confusing to operate. We feel a good system should be intuitive, but this one required some trial and error initially. Owners would probably get quickly familiar with the system.
Encore pricing starts at a low $24,944, including the destination charge, for the FWD base model and peaks at $32,315 for the Premium Group AWD version.
The Encore should have a strong appeal for couples of all ages that want more than the basics. This is a plush crossover in a convenient personal size. It makes a nice addition to the good-looking and quality Buick lineup.
Our only wish for future versions is perhaps using the 250-hp Ecotec® turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the Verano as an option for those of us that would like a little more power.