Having driven the biggest sedan Buick has to offer I was now going to drive their smallest vehicle. In a state famous for putting things in scale I wanted to see if size matters when it comes to the Buick Encore.
I must admit that before I took the keys I was already making assumptions. Judging its size as another pretender wanting to be a contender. A global car fitted with leather seats and a higher price tag to meet EPA standards for Buick. After spending a week with the silver Encore I can tell you that it was one of the few times were I was glad I was wrong.
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The Encore is all new for 2017. The previous model reminded me of a bunny with its ears folded back. This new design has taken a razor to sharpen the old model’s rounded edges. It gives it a more aggressive, confident, look.
It’s like a teenager who hits puberty over the summer and comes back to school to turn heads. I especially like the front headlamps with LED’s that make it look like it has eyebrows. The chiseled face has a sense of determination. It wants to be the best at what it is, a luxury crossover.
I caught myself admiring the Encore more than the LaCrosse because it looks so endearing. It’s not cute like a puppy eating ice cream. Even though the Encore does look “cute,” it still gives off that hint of masculinity.
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As a young guy, I never felt embarrassed stepping out of the Buick Encore in public.
Also new for 2017 is the 18-inch wheels this particular Buick Encore is sitting on. I’m not sure what it is about modern Buick’s but they seem to look their best in silver.
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One thought that still haunts me from working as a rental car employee is remembering all the complaints about the vehicle’s size. God forbid a customer had to go from their usual Altima into a Sentra. They would complain as if we had given them a unicycle to take to the airport.
Flashbacks of this came to mind when I reached for the door to step inside the Buick Encore for the first time. Once inside, it was a completely different story.
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It’s small on the outside but spacious on the inside, like Mary Poppins’s travel bag. But, the Encore is narrow so expect to rub elbows if you are a wide shouldered individual.
I felt as comfortable in the compact Buick Encore as I did in the full-size LaCrosse. I had heated and cooled seats. Apple Car-play and Wi-Fi, keyless door entry, and a push-button ignition were on board. It also had a moon roof and a quiet cabin to enjoy satellite radio with the Bose equipped stereo.
Some of the safety features included blind spot warnings, front collision sensors, and a back-up camera. The Encore also has 10 standard airbags.
The Buick Encore gets around thanks to a 1.4 liter DOHC ECOTEC turbo four cylinder engine. It puts out 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque. It’s bolted to a 6-speed automatic. The engine makes a nice rumble noise when you need to overtake someone on the highway.
The Encore is heavy tipping the scales at over 3,000 pounds, so do not expect it to perform like a nimble hatchback.
Gas mileage for the Encore is 27mpg in the city and 33mpg on highway for an average of 30 mpg. I only averaged 26mpg throughout the week.
All-wheel drive is available on the Encore. You also have an option for a more powerful 153-hp engine if you want more performance.
The Buick Encore is available in five different trim levels. There is the base, Sport Touring, Convenience, Leather and Premium. The latter is the one I was testing. Prices starts from $25k and jumps to $35k with options. The one I drove had a sticker price of $34,075.
During my week with the Encore I had to do my holiday shopping. That meant using my entire Saturday to drive all over town in search of the perfect gift. I spent close to 8 hours in holiday traffic and overcrowded malls. It’s my idea of Hell on earth. I was grateful to be driving the Encore.
Its size meant I had no trouble zig-zagging through parking lots. Its comfort allowed me to decompress before having to endure another store full of last minute shoppers and fed up retail employees.
A colleague assured me that I was going to enjoy the 2017 Buick Encore. He even gave me the old “I told you so” line.
When I took photos for this review I went to the Pearl district in downtown San Antonio. It’s a place where the Encore would fit right in.
The Pearl was once a brewery in an industrial area with buildings made out of brick fueled by the sweat of testosterone. Now it’s one of the hippest places in town.
The brick office buildings are now stylish overpriced apartments. Specialty boutique shops circle the apartments. The brewery itself is now a restaurant and luxury hotel.
The reason why I felt the Buick would fit in is because I saw at least three other Encores driving around the place. It’s a metaphor for how Buick is trying to recycle its old image. It no longer builds cars for AARP card holders. They’re using technology to reinvent themselves as a brand for all ages.
What I learned from driving the LaCrosse and the Encore back to back is that the Encore is not a small car trying to be a luxury sedan. The Buick Encore is a luxury vehicle that happens to be small.
If you live in a city where space is an issue but want a vehicle that has all the creature comforts, the 2017 Buick Encore is a contender. Size matters when it comes to urban living. The Buick Encore gives you the luxury you want without taking up space you need