Road Test: 2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring AWD

Compact crossovers are all the rage, with the segment outselling sedans and besting any previously set records. The Encore was Buick’s top-seller last year and is poised to take that crown again for 2017. In fact, it was their top seller every month in 2017.

Redesigned for 2017, Encore is better than ever. With customer feedback and improved technology, the Encore retains its compact shape with a fresh exterior and new interior design. Encore is available in standard, Preferred, Preferred II, Sport Touring, Essence, and Premium trims.

Ride and Handling
Buick’s Encore rides comfortably, with good pothole and bump absorption. Highway rides can be a bit choppy over certain pavements due to the short wheelbase.

Handling is secure and confident, with steering feedback that lets the driver know what’s happening with the front wheels. Effort is just right, not too much assist but not too little.

Sporty 18″ Midnight Silver alloys are standard and edgy.

Braking
Four corners of disc brakes feel strong and linear. After a slight amount of initial travel, they grip well and provide good feedback.

Powertrain and Fuel Economy
The 1.4L turbo powertrain on Sport Touring generates more power and torque than the standard engine. 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque are routed through a 6-speed auto transmission, powering the front wheels or all four wheels when slippage is detected.

Encore always starts in AWD then quickly disengages if slippage is not detected, ensuring winter acceleration is as secure as can be. Acceleration around town and on the highway felt entirely adequate, if at times peppy. The transmission shifts smoothly. Auto start/stop worked well and helped saved fuel while sitting at traffic lights.

During our typical drive week of local and highway mixed driving, fuel economy averages in at 30.3 mpg, quite impressive. The EPA rates the Encore at 26/31/28 (city/highway/combined).

Noise
As with all Buick’s, QuietTuning is in full force on the Encore. Bose Active Noise Cancellation tech emits counter frequencies that prevent passengers from hearing any unwanted noises inside the cabin. We only hear a soft hum from the engine area.

Headlights
Halogen headlights provide good illumination in low and high beam modes. LED turn signals are standard and bold, while LED headlights are standard on Essence trims and above. Automatic high beams are not available.

Interior Fit and Finish
Materials all around are soft touch and are assembled with attention to detail.

Seating
The driver’s seat is 6-way power and comfortable. The front passenger seat is manually adjustable. Both seating positions are comfortable but the elbow rests in the doors could use more padding; only the driver gets an inboard armrest.

Passengers in the rear seat will find good legroom and a comfortable seat once the headrests are raised. Headroom is plentiful with the high roofline.

Cargo room measures in at 18.8 cubic feet with a large, wide tailgate opening. The fold-down seats open that space up to over 48 cubic feet.

A number of storage areas, including a hidden slide out bin under the passenger seat, and a well-sized glove box provide good day-to-day functionality.

Visibility
Visibility is very good all around thanks to the upright roofline. The front corner of the A-pillar is wider due to the design of the Encore, but the small window and door-mounted side mirrors helps. The standard backup camera helps significantly.

Sun visors block all sun glare when positioned over the side windows.

Gauges and Controls
Crisp, well-lit gauges and controls provide all information at a quick glance. The Driver Information Center display shows a digital readout of the speedometer, along with individual tire pressures.

Knobs and buttons feel extremely high quality and are well-labeled. Everything is well-organized and for the first time, keyless access with push-button start is standard. RainSense wipers are standard on Premium trim.

Infotainment
Buick IntelliLink is redesigned for the Encore. With a fresh interface and faster speeds, the system responds quickly and smoothly. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and worked well in our tests. Plug an iPhone in, and within a few seconds, the familiar interface appears.

The optional nav works well, with fast voice entry capability, and the Bose 7-speaker audio system sounds excellent. A household style 120V outlet is located at the back of the center console.

Two USB, HD and XM radio, and Bluetooth streaming inputs provide endless entertainment.

Crash-Avoidance
Our Encore was fitted with the optional Safety package which includes rear cross-traffic alert and side blind-zone alert. Additional safety items like forward collision warning, lane departure alert and front/rear parking sensors are only available on Premium trims. Automatic emergency braking is not available.

Crash Test Results
The 2017 Buick Encore earns Good ratings in all IIHS crash tests, but doesn’t meet requirements for Top Safety Pick status without a collision avoidance system. NHTSA rated the Encore with five stars overall.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 8
Braking 8
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 8
Noise 10
Headlights 8
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 9
Visibility 9
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 10
Crash-Avoidance 8
Total Score 93
Facts
Make: Buick
Model: Encore
Trim Level: Standard
Engine: 1.4L Turbo I4
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: Start/stop engine, Bose audio, navigation, Graphite Gray paint, safety package, dual zone climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror
Base Price: $27,065
As-Tested Price: $31,220

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