2013 Buick Encore
"Encore boasts the functionality of an SUV, but the manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency of a compact car."
Buick is aiming to capture the small luxury crossover, with the introduction of the 2013 Encore and aiming it directly at Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver urban dwellers who account for a third of small SUV sales.
Suited to a young, urban dwelling and hyper-connected buyer who is seeking luxury finishes inside a vehicle, the all-new Encore boasts the functionality of an SUV, but the manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency of a compact car.
Buick decided on a two-tone exterior colour scheme with rocker panels painted a darker version of the nine exterior body colour choices. Chrome accents are found throughout the vehicle, including the traditional Buick waterfall grille and portholes on the hood. That chrome theme snakes inside, trimming the instrument panel, dash and doors which are also accented with woodgrain, in all three interior colour options - Ebony, Medium Titanium and a rich brown Saddle.
The Encore is available in the standard three Buick trims (Convenience, Leather and Premium), all in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Features often saved for higher trim levels are standard on Encore. The base model (Convenience FWD) starts at $26,895 and includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, blue accented halogen headlamps, a six-way power driver seat, automatic headlights, 18-inch aluminum wheels, blue interior ambient lighting, a six speaker Bose sound system with SiriusXM radio, and 10 airbags, the new safety standard .
The options really get going at the Leather level, with power sunroof, remote start, a backup camera, heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
The top-shelf Premium package starts at $32,505 for FWD includes high tech amenities like a lane warning departure and forward collision system, rain sensing wipers, front and rear park assist, and wheels coated in chrome.
The seating capacity for three in the rear transforms into a highly adaptable 1,371 litres of cargo space - the Encore is ready to be modified to accommodate whatever cargo needs transporting, with the front passenger and 60/40 split second row seats all folding flat. Add in two glove boxes, eight beverage holders and seatback pockets and there are a total of 21 integrated storage areas.
The IntelliLink infotainment system is controlled via steering wheel controls, voice recognition or by using the 7-inch high-resolution colour screen.
Standard on all equipment groups is Buick’s proprietary QuietTuning system, which works to reduce, block or absorb engine and exterior noises. But even sweeter is the addition of the Bose Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), a Buick first.
Utilizing the same technology found in its renowned headphones, Bose ANC comes standard on all Encores. Even when the stereo is off, the three ceiling mounted microphones detect audible noise, and then send a signal to the speakers sprinkled throughout the cabin to emit the exact opposite frequency, with the counteracting sound waves cancelling out the cacophony.
Power comes from the Ecotec 1.4-litre four cylinder engine, which uses outputs of 138 hp and 148 lb.-ft. of torque and six-speed automatic transmission, resulting in a combined fuel consummating rating of 7.2 L/100km on FWD models
A tour of the Southern Ontario countryside demonstrated the refined handling characteristics of the Encore, especially in the AWD version, because despite the large cargo capacity it handles like a car. The suspension is a good balance between being stiff enough for a driver to enjoy and feel the road, but smooth enough for passengers to still enjoy the ride. And with a tight turning radius of 5.1 metres, smaller than that of a MINI Countryman, it makes for an easy vehicle to manoeuvre through the tight confines of a city core.
Being first to market means the Encore will enjoy a time without many competitors, the closest being the VW Tiguan and BMW X1, along with the benefit of being seen as a trendsetter in what is shaping up to become the next design shape trend.
2013 Buick Encore
MSRP range: $26,895-$34,455
Available trims: Convenience; Leather; Premium
Notable Options: heated steering wheel, dual zone climate control; rear view camera; lane departure warning system; 18-inch chrome wheels
Configuration: front engine/ front- or all-wheel drive
Available engines: 1.4L 4-cyl. (138 hp/ 148 lb.-ft.)
Available transmissions: 6-spd. auto. with sequential shift
Fuel economy ratings: Est. 8.2 L/100km city; 6.0 L/100km hwy
Competitors: BMW X1; Mini Countryman; Volkswagen Tiguan
Strengths: first to market; Bose noise cancellation; large cargo area; luxury finishings
Weaknesses: engine needs more hp; chrome accents need constant polishing