Like its competitors in the subcompact crossover SUV class, the 2018 Buick Encore main appeal is its fuel efficiency and maneuverability. But Encore is a bit more upscale with standard and optional features as well as quiet interiors at highway speeds.
Unfortunately, the Encore’s performance is still a bit disappointing. Related to the Chevrolet Trax, it has the same 138-horsepower turbocharged engine. Acceleration is slow and real world fuel economy is mediocre. There is indeed an optional more powerful 153 hp engine, but this is not a big difference. And usually will pay more to get Encore than similar rivals.
The Encore appeal is very dependent on what you want. If you like the size and premium features, this is more likely the ideal choice. But you should also look at the Mazda CX-3, which is cheaper and equally good. In addition, the Encore price is close to what you would pay for a more spacious SUV, such as the Honda CR-V or Chevrolet Equinox.
Trim, Features and Engine Specs
The 2018 Buick Encore is a compact crossover SUV available in six trim levels: 1SV, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence and Premium.
The base 1SV standard features include keyless ignition and entry, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, automatic headlights, roof rails, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, cruise control, air-conditioning, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a power driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Buick’s IntelliLink electronics interface with an 8-inch touchscreen and smartphone app integration, a rearview camera, OnStar communications with Wi-Fi hotspot and 4G LTE, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and two USB ports.
The Preferred trim features are similar to the 1SV but you also get a cargo cover and floor mats.
The 2018 Buick Encore Sport Touring adds remote start, foglights and a rear spoiler. Options include a blind-spot monitoring system and a seven-speaker Bose sound system.
The Preferred II adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert systems, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control and a 120-volt household-style power outlet.
The 2018 Buick Encore Essence adds LED headlights, driver-seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a six-way power passenger seat with power lumbar and manual recline.
The top-range Premium adds automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a lane departure warning system, a forward collision warning system and the seven-speaker Bose sound system.
The 2018 Buick Encore is powered by a 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A more powerful version of this engine generates 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, is available on all except the 1SV and Preferred models. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic is standard. Optional all-wheel drive system available on all but the 1SV.
In performance testing, an FWD Encore accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds, which is slower than most crossovers in this price range. With the base engine, the 2018 Buick Encore EPA fuel economy with front-wheel drive estimates at (25 mpg city/33 mpg highway) and (23 city/30 highway) with all-wheel drive.
The 2018 Buick Encore has comfortable front seats and a high seating position that offers a nice forward view. The rear seats offer enough headroom and leg room for 6-footer passengers, but it is undeniable that this is tight for adults and a backward-facing child seat. The interior layout includes some storage space such as a drawer under the front passenger seat on a cloth-upholstered model that is useful for storing valuables that you do not want to leave in plain sight.
The 2018 Buick Encore cabin has an upscale atmosphere on higher trim, with soft touch material and handsome metal and wood trim. The controls are quite intuitive and accessible, although a few buttons look similar. The most obvious is the enhanced layout of the center-stack control, including an updated 8 inch touchscreen.
Unfortunately, the interior falls in the cargo space, with only 18.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. It’s the same as other subcompact SUVs, but lags far behind the more popular compact crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape.
Release Date and Price
The 2018 Buick Encore is on sale and beginning to arrive now at dealers nationwide. Price range will start from $23,965 for the 1SV (include $995 destination) to $31,490 for the Premium front-wheel drive. If you prefers to have the sure-footedness Encore shape suggests, you’ll need to at least select the $25,340 Preferred trim and then add $1,500 for the all-wheel-drive system.