Buick's compact crossover, the Encore, was one of the first of the new breed of premium compact crossovers. Since then, the segment has gotten more popular with buyers and more crowded with competitors. With the Audi Q3, Infiniti QX30, and Mercedes GLA at the top of the Encore's range, it was time for a refresh. So Buck gave it a new look, inside and out, for 2017.
That means that for 2018, the Encore gets few changes. There is a new exterior colour, the fuel filler is now capless, and the top-trim gets an ionizing air cleaner to help keep the cabin fresh.
Unlike most of the premium compact crossovers, where styling takes priority over practicality, the Buick has a high-up seating position. Combined with a tall greenhouse, the Encore has excellent visibility, great headroom, and a very airy feel. Compare that with the QX30, where all but the smallest of drivers will likely feel cramped.
The Encore is available with a pair of engines, but even though they are both 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinders, they are very different. The base engine makes 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque but is an older design. The uplevel engine is a newer engine with direct injection. That gives it 153 hp, 177 lb-ft, and a fuel economy improvement of 0.5 L/100 km combined. The base engine, connected to a six-speed automatic, doesn't feel slow, but when more power gives you better economy, it's an easy choice to get more.
The Encore is lacking some of the electronic safety bits that are common in this class. It doesn't have lane keeping assist or adaptive cruise control. What it does have is a small warning light to tell you if you are following too closely.
The Encore is available in five trim levels. Encore, Preferred, Sport Touring, Essence, and Premium. The first four are available as front-wheel drive, Preferred and up are available as all-wheel drive, and Premium is all-wheel drive only.
The base Encore has fabric seats with a leather-wrapped wheel. The six-speaker audio system is controlled by Buick's excellent Intellilink infotainment system and an 8.0-inch screen. OnStar with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi is standard, as are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Encore Preferred adds a range of interior and exterior colour options (base comes with just two exterior choices). Sport Touring adds remote start, fog lamps, and a rear spoiler. A Bose 7-speaker stereo with navigation is optional, along with a power moonroof, blind spot alerts, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Encore Essence has dual-zone climate control, a 110-volt power outlet, and six-way power adjustable front seats. The seats are leather and heated, as is the steering wheel. The Essence trim has LED headlights. Cross traffic and lane departure warnings are standard.
Finally, Encore Premium adds standard all-wheel drive, along with forward collision warnings and parking sensors. The Bose stereo is standard.
Buick Encore is rated at 9.3 L/100 km city, 7.2 highway with the base engine and front-wheel drive. That engine with all-wheel drive is rated at 9.8/7.7. the uplevel engine is rated at 8.6/7.1 and 8.9/7.6 L/100 km respectively.