Buick has a lot riding on the wheels of its new crossover, the smallest Buick yet.
2013 Buick Encore AWD
Vital StatsBase price: $30,440 (includes destination)
This car’s price: $32,230 (includes destination); options are eighteen-inch chromed aluminum wheels ($995) and audio system with navigation ($795)
EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway (with turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission)
Standard safety features: Ten standard airbags, including driver and front passenger knee airbags and side curtain airbags for front and rear outboard passengers; the model we tested has standard stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning. (Lane departure warning, forward collision alert, and front and rear park assist are options on the base model.)
Chief competitors: Nissan Rogue S AWD, Toyota RAV4 Limited
Key Points• The Buick Encore is built in Bupyeong, South Korea.
• The Encore is intended to move the brand away from its stodgy image and appeal to the coveted youth market.
• Big question: Is it too small to be a Buick? Not so much on the outside, but in the cabin.
• Big plus: Encore comes with more standard features than most “affordable” compact SUVs. They include Buick’s IntelliLink system, which includes a seven-inch color display, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a USB port.
• How small is it? There's only room for one armrest in the front, not two.
• Although it comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it could use more power.
• The Encore also gets standard QuietTuning with Buick’s first use of Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology.
• A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, but the transmission doesn’t downshift quickly when more power is called for.
• The small turning circle makes for excellent maneuverability.
• Choppy ride.
• Upscale ambience, but some cheap touches, especially the sun visors and the headliner. No power tailgate.