Buick does a lot with little Encore
Buick may have the New Year's first hit on its hands with the 2013 Encore, a mini-crossover that packs an extra-large serving of goodness into a pint-sized package.
Almost 20 inches shorter than a Chevrolet Equinox, the Encore is an early entrant into the next hot market segment: subcompact luxury crossovers. It goes on sale in February.
Prices for the 2013 Encore start at $24,200 for a front-wheel drive model. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option across the line. All Encores come with a 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
I tested a very well-equipped front-drive Encore with leather seats, Bose audio, lane-departure warning, front-collision alert, heated steering wheel and front seats, sunroof, navigation system and 18-inch chrome wheels. It cost $30,780. All prices exclude destination charges.
The Encore's closest competitors as extra-small luxury crossovers are probably the BMW X1 — 8 inches longer and considerably more expensive, but with loads more performance — and the Mini Countryman — 6.7 inches shorter and with far less interior space. It's nearly the same size as the front-wheel-drive-only Fiat 500L that goes on sale midyear.
The Encore packs a lot of usable room into a small package. It offers expansive headroom, even with the optional sunroof. Front and rear legroom are also good. Shoulder room is more than adequate, though I wouldn't recommend long drives with three passengers in the rear seat. The hatchback opens onto a large and practical cargo space with 18.8 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet available with the seat folded.
Buick trimmed the interior in attractive, high-quality materials and contrasting color combinations. There's a handy second glove box, but the driver could use more storage in the center console and a better receptacle for phones and iPods.
The Encore got a cut-rate version of Buick's excellent Intellilink controls for audio, navigation, phone, etc. The voice-recognition is superb, but it takes too many steps and too long to switch the audio from one source to another.
Pushing a button again and again to scroll past AM, FM, satellite radio, Bluetooth and iPod on the way to the CD player gets annoying when you know other Buicks have a touch screen that lets you go directly from one to another. You can switch sources with spoken commands but that, too, takes longer than simply touching a button or screen.
The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed transmission provided more than adequate power on a long drive that included plenty of fast highway miles up and down the Appalachian Mountains. Quicker throttle response would be welcome when you're measuring a gap in traffic, but the Encore's EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg in the city, 33 on the highway and 28 combined matches or beats the BMW X1, Ford Escape 1.6L, Countryman and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Westinghouse in talks for potential $20B deal in Turkey
- 153-year-old Venango well pumps out oil, history
- Small retailers at intersection of social networks, foot traffic
- Woman on dating site looks too good to be true: How to vet that pic
- Health care, gas drilling industries await Gov.-elect Wolf’s footprint
- Business Council for Peace program works to export profits, peace
- U.S. Steel reorganizes operating units
- Toyota to begin selling 1st fuel cell vehicle, Mirai, in December
- In ‘StockCity,’ real investing like game
- Westmoreland County’s Excela Health rethinks patient debts
- Highmark and UPMC feud over canceled physician contracts