Small, fuel-efficient, refined, and affordable, Buick’s little Encore has been a resounding success for the brand. Sold overseas as the Opel Mokka and assembled in Korea, the subcompact crossover has achieved its mission of attracting new buyers to the brand. Combined with the jumbo-sized Enclave SUV, the two make up more than half of all Buick sales.
For 2017, the Encore gets its first mid-life update. It’s a fairly mild one as far as changes go, but it brings in fresh styling and new features that will keep it at the top of consumers’ minds.
Everything ahead of the front pillars is new on the Encore. The headlamps gain jazzy Audi-esque angled LED accents and available full LED beams, while the new grille swaps its waterfall vertical spars for diagonal chromed wings and a full colour emblem. New front and rear bumpers provide a slightly sportier appearance, while revised taillights with LED accents and chrome tail pipes complete the look. Large, 18-inch flush-faced wheels are new, and three new colours to the pallet: Black Cherry, Ebony Twilight, and White Frost.
While Buick has nixed the Ventiport faux engine vents, little change has taken place under the hood. The Encore continues to use a slightly-larger-than-pint-sized 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is available in two states of tune. All models receive a 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque paired to a six-speed automatic as standard. A more powerful version of that same engine which develops 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque is also available as an extra-cost option on the Sport Touring and luxury trims. Despite packing more power, it’s the more fuel efficient of the two engines, using an estimated 8.5 L/100 km city and 6.9 L/100 km highway, versus the lower-output engine which uses 9.5 L/100 km city and 7.2 L/100 km highway. Part of the difference comes from the engine’s idle-stop system.
A new interior design is perhaps the biggest change to the Encore. Revised instruments now feature a 4.2-inch reconfigurable display for the trip computer, while the dash-top infotainment pod and button-heavy centre stack have been swapped for a slick 8.0-inch screen for the latest iteration of Buick’s IntelliLink system. Said setup also boasts Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus plenty of USB ports for device charging. Contrast stitched accents on the dashboard give the cabin a more premium appearance, but the Encore loses out on its handy second glovebox. A good cabin layout means four adults can ride comfortably in the Encore, though cargo space is more in line with a standard compact hatchback rather than a typical small crossover like a Ford Escape or BMW X1.
As a part of the refresh, the Encore gains standard proximity key with pushbutton start – something most of its rivals charge extra for. Another nicety is a standard Bose stereo system, which features noise cancellation for a quieter cabin. Something else you won’t find on any of its rivals is a built-in wi-fi hotspot with 4G LTE internet connectivity through OnStar.
The Encore is available with a wide array of active safety features including lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, plus forward collision warning, but it doesn’t yet offer emergency autonomous braking or active lane-keeping assist.