The Buick Encore has been a pretty solid sales success, proving this brand could attract numerous buyers in the market for a small, upscale crossover. It has also possibly been the company's most succcessful effort yet at attracting buyers in the younger demographics Buick has been seeking for the past few years.
The Encore really is compact. It's based on the same underpinnings as the Chevrolet Trax, which makes it one of the smallest crossovers you'll find today, but as with all Buick models, it benefits from the brand's concerted effort to build some of the smoothest, quietest cars on the market.
For 2019, the Encore comes through largely unchanged compared to last year, but sees a thinning of its trim offerings as Buick prepares a second-generation model for the 2020 model year. Gone is the top-end Premium trim and the entry-level model (that base car was simply called Encore), and the safety features that were standard in that configuration (forward collision warning and front and rear park assist) have been shuffled into an option package available in in the remaining higher-end models.
The trims that are left are Preferred, Sport Touring and Essence, and all three can be had with front- or all-wheel drive. Carried over is a pair of 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Preferred trim uses a version tuned for 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, while the other two variants get one that cranks out more impressive figures of 153 hp and 177 lb-ft and boasts stop/start technology to shut the engine off at stoplights to save fuel. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only one offered, either way.
Despite its small footprint, the Encore feels roomy inside owing to a tall roof and a high seating position. It's less outright fun to drive than, say, an Audi Q3, Infiniti QX30 or Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, but there's good space inside for a quartet of adults, which is a squeeze in some of those competitors.
Base models get fabric seats with a leather-wrapped wheel, a six-speaker audio system controlled by Buick's well-executed Intellilink infotainment system and through an 8.0-inch screen that supports the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration systems.
Preferred trim expands the choice of colour options (the base car comes with just two exterior choices) while Sport Touring adds remote start, fog lamps and a rear spoiler. A seven-speaker stereo with navigation is available, along with a power moonroof and blind spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Encore Essence boasts 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, and the headlights are LEDs. Cross traffic and lane departure warnings are standard.
Buick's fuel consumption estimates are 9.3/7.2 for a base model with FWD and 9.9/7.8 with AWD. The more powerful engine is actually more efficient, so its ratings are more attractive at 8.6/7.1 in front-drive form and 9.0/7.6 with four driven wheels.