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Go In Snow - 2017 Buick Encore AWD 4dr Sport Touring Review

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chierf
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2017 Buick Encore AWD 4dr Sport Touring
ENGINE: 1.4-liter turbocharged four
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 138 hp @ 4,900 rpm/148 lb.-ft. @ 1,850 rpm
WHEELBASE: 100.6 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 168.4 x 69.9 x 65.2 in.
TIRES: P215/55R18
CARGO CAPACITY: 18.8/48.4 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down) 
ECONOMY: 26 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26.5 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 14.0 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,358 lbs. #/HP: 24.3
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Honda CR-V
STICKER: $31,220 (includes $925 delivery, $3,230 options)
BOTTOM LINE: While small, the Buick Encore is a perfectly capable SUV.

I must confess I approached the Buick Encore with some trepidation. First, I was a little nervous about the engine size. After all, I hadn’t driven a car with this small an engine since my first MGA at 1.5 liters. My second MGA had a huge 1.6-liter engine, so I was headed in the right direction. 

But the turbo 1.4-liter four in the Encore proved to be up to everything we asked of it. Horsepower is still low at a conservative 138, but except for hard acceleration it did a good job. And even with hard acceleration, I learned to work with it, as I did with the MGAs. Part of our test week involved a long trip south for Thanksgiving with a considerable amount of Interstate miles. We had no serious issues.

The best thing about the engine is, of course, economy. We averaged 26.5 mpg overall and close to 30 mpg on the highways. And, really, we earned that economy with no lack of adequate performance. 

My second concern was with the size. Many Buick ads show the Encore with its bigger Enclave and Envision brothers and it makes the Encore look too small, definitely too small to be a Buick. Since the Encore is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Sonic, I was iffy. Again, I was wrong. 

On our trip south for Thanksgiving we had a load of goodies, plus the turkey, plus luggage to bring along. The Encore has a large cargo area that more than doubles when you lower the rear seat backs. Suffice it to say, the turkey made it safely, and leftovers made it safely back. 

Encore handling is very good, thanks primarily to the short wheelbase. Not only does the Encore do well in traffic, but parking is a snap. This time of year, shopping centers are crowded, but we always found a spot, and never had problems parallel parking in tight spots.

Finally, the Encore is fun to drive. Ride quality is good, and there were no residual aches and pains after a long ride.

The instrument panel has a tachometer and speedometer separated by an information panel. Smaller fuel and water gauges are above the info panel, which we set to fuel economy as we watched the numbers rise.

I would have liked radar cruise control, but the “normal” kind worked well. I guess I’m just spoiled.

There’s a clear standard GM infotainment and audio system. in addition, we had a good HVAC system that was almost too warm at times.

Front seats are comfortable with a small pull-down arm rest on the driver’s side. Rear seats are comfortable as well. Rear seat legroom is cozy, although my granddaughter didn’t complain. All doors, front and rear, have multiple levels for storage, and have good water carrying capability. 

Interior storage, besides the doors, consists of a good cubby at the base of the center stack with clearly labeled USB, AUX and 12-volt outlets. Along the small center console is a covered cubby with a sliding top that is ideal for holding a phone. 

Visibility is generally good, but twice I failed to see oncoming cars because of the blind spot caused by the A pillar. I will admit that it could have been solely my fault.

Overall, despite the pre-test potential hang-ups, the Buick Encore proved to be capable of handling everything we threw at it. Generally, I would prefer a slightly larger SUV, but for empty nesters, the Encore is really all you would need.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate