If you are a devotee of noise-canceling headphones when you fly, you’ll appreciate what Buick has done with the Encore. The just-introduced small crossover has active noise cancellation technology inside.
That might give you pause: will you be unable to hear anything? No, it's not quite like putting a set of headphones over your ears while driving; it's more sophisticated than that. Developed by engineers at Bose, the home office of quiet, it’s intended to give you and passengers a “luxurious and muted, yet still engaging” experience inside the vehicle.
This is Buick’s first use of the technology. It uses microphones to gather and analyze sound and then projects sound waves to cancel out unwanted noise throughout the cabin. The Encore's speakers are used as part of the sound technology, and there’s also a subwoofer, interestingly placed in the center of the spare tire (that's one way to save space in the compact Encore’s cabin).
The noise-canceling part sounds a lot like the headphones you may already know and love. Bose adapted noise cancellation for the Encore's interior by letting “pleasant notes” continue to pass through the cabin. Conversation, music, and other sounds you do want to hear will get through; much of the engine and traffic noise won’t.
Buick has also taken more traditional steps to quiet down the ride in the Encore: an acoustically treated headliner, sound-absorbing materials, and an acoustic-laminated windshield, among other things. Active noise cancellation is always on, even if you turn the audio off, and it’s standard on every Encore—even those that don’t have the optional Bose audio system, priced at $595. For a car that starts just under $25,000, the amount of refinement it’s aiming for is pretty ambitious.