2017 Buick Encore AWD

In the burgeoning field of subcompact crossovers, the Buick Encore stands out for a couple of important reasons.

For one, compared with its many competitors, it has an upscale aura, particularly inside. But whether we can refer to it as luxurious depends on your definition of that term. We think it’s not quite there, so we’ll settle on calling it premium, an industry word used to describe vehicles that aren’t quite classifiable as luxury but aren’t far from it.

Two, the Encore coddles occupants with a surprisingly supple ride given its short wheelbase as well as exceptionally low interior noise levels and upscale interior appointments, part of an overhaul for 2017 that also includes updated exterior sheetmetal. Those traits may not necessarily qualify the Encore as luxury, but they are subliminal elements in vehicles we regard as premium.

The Encore offers two engine choices, both 1.4-liter four-cylinders, both turbocharged, both long-stroke designs, yet one is standard and the other is an upgrade option. There are significant distinctions. For example, the base engine has a slightly smaller bore, a little less displacement (1364 cubic centimeters versus 1399), a lower compression ratio (9.5:1 versus 10.0:1), and port rather than direct fuel injection. The net result of these differences is a power disparity that may seem modest but in the realm of this small fry is significant: 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque for the base version, 153 hp and 177 lb-ft for the upgrade. Read more...

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10 Feb 2017