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2018 Buick Encore Overview
Buick’s Encore subcompact crossover became a surprise success for the brand when it launched back in 2013, going on to be its top seller. Buick gave the 2017 Encore a modest refresh with new front-end styling and a revised center stack. For 2018, Buick makes only the smallest of changes to the Encore.
The Encore’s exterior design is very understated—you’ll find no sharp creases of a coupe-like roof here. The Encore features Buick’s new winged grille, headlights with LED accents, and body-colored side-view mirrors. A Sport Touring trim gives the Encore a modern edge with a rear spoiler and 18-inch wheels finished in midnight silver. Buick added Coppertino Metallic to the 2018 Encore’s color palate.
One previous complaint about the Encore’s interior was its button-laden center stack. Drivers found it difficult to figure out which button they needed to press to change the audio source or bring up the navigation system. Buick addressed this last year with a cleaned-up center stack that included an 8-inch touchscreen with Buick IntelliLink and raised climate-system controls. The touchscreen controls most functions. IntelliLink avoids confusing and overwhelming drivers with a simple interface and snappy performance. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi are standard on all Encores.
Depending on the trim selected – Buick offers six options to choose from - seats will be covered in cloth, leatherette, or leather upholstery. The front seats provide excellent support for long trips and are set up high to provide an excellent view of the road ahead. The back seat can sit two adult passengers with no issues, thanks to decent legroom and excellent headroom. Cargo space in the Encore is about average for the class. Behind the rear seats, the Encore provides 18.8 cubic feet; the space expands to 48.4 cubic feet with the seats folded down. If you need to carry long items, the Encore features a fold-flat front passenger seat.
Buick offers two different versions of the Encore’s turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder. The base package offers up 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. The SIDI Turbo raises horsepower to 153 and torque to 177. Both versions come with a 6-speed automatic and the choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Reviewers agree the base version of the 1.4 is slow, with a 0-60 time of just under 10 seconds. That engine will also struggle if drivers put more than two people in the Encore. Most people will be better off with the stronger engine, as it is quicker to 60 mph and offers more punch for making passes on the freeway. EPA fuel-economy estimates range from 24 mpg city, 30 highway, 27 combined for the more powerful 1.4 with AWD to 27, 33, 30 for the standard 1.4 with FWD.
The Encore’s small size makes it a breeze to maneuver in tight spaces, perfect for urban environments. Despite its height, the Encore feels nimble around corners and barely shows any body roll. However, the steering offers little feel. Ride quality is very impressive, as the Encore smooths out bumps and potholes. Road and wind noise are almost nonexistent in the Encore’s interior thanks to sound insulation and double-pane windows.
Standard safety equipment for the 2018 Encore includes a full set of airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, a reversing camera, and GM’s OnStar telematics system. Optional safety features available on the Preferred II trim include blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert. The Premium trim offers rear park assist, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning. The Encore earned the highest rating of Good in all of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded a 5-star Overall rating to the Encore.
Ask William Maley how he started as an automotive writer and he would say he just fell into it. Based in Michigan, William has driven vehicles of all sizes and shapes. His work has appeared on Autobytel, CARFAX, Cheers & Gears, and U.S. News Best Cars.
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