Buick Encore sports intriguing design

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Some crotchety old cynics out there claim we're becoming France.

And we might be right. But I kind of look forward to frequent wine breaks, 30-hour workweeks, monthlong summer vacations and my own government-sanctioned mistress.

How-dee, mademoiselle.

The rest of living French you can keep, especially the cars, which too often look like large, lumpy insects coated in bizarre shades of citrus-colored paint.

So right up front, I need to apologize to the 2013 Buick Encore, a thick, weird, truncated crossover that initially looked to me to be as French as a fat guy in a Speedo.

The Encore is built by General Motors' Korean division and aimed at potential customers in China, where Buick is a big brand.

The first time I saw the stubby, high-riding Encore at the Detroit auto show a couple of years ago, I thought it resembled a rumpled beret that had been tossed onto a chest of drawers.

That was not high praise.

Well, kids, I might have been wrong.

First, though, you'll still need to come to terms with the Encore's unconventional appearance.

Built on the subcompact platform of a Chevy Sonic, the Encore rides on a 100-inch wheelbase that looks about three Texas strides long.

It is nearly as tall (65.3 inches) as it is wide (69.9 inches). Call it a crossover if you like, but mostly, it is a tall front-wheel-drive car with a hatchback and some utility.

And somehow, it works.

A short, sloping hood with unfortunate chrome portholes attached to its edges flowed kind of abruptly into a large, sloping windshield.

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