Buick Encore: 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

We Like: Surprisingly fun to drive. Looks good, too

We Don’t Like: Bouncy ride; loud, vibration-filled cabin

This might sound crazy, but this pint-sized South Korean–built, Opel-engineered crossover is a compelling vehicle.

Buick ditched the old jelly bean styling for handsome new sheetmetal, cleaned up the cluttered interior by installing a slick Apple CarPlay–friendly IntelliLink system, and added a slightly more powerful 154-hp 1.4-liter turbo I-4 to complement the base 138-hp engine.

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For being a stubby, tall crossover, the Encore is surprisingly nice to drive. Sure, the standard six-speed auto prefers to think of gears two through five as vestigial organs, but once it kicks down, the updated engine is, as Scott Evans put it, “surprisingly stout,” though the little engine gets noticeably coarse as it nears the upper reaches of the tachometer. The Buick handles pretty nicely, too, driving more like a subcompact car than a crossover.

Inside, the updated cabin is tastefully executed. The front seats are comfortable, if a bit flat. The back seats are super-tight on the legs, as you’d expect, but offer up decent headroom. That being said, taller passengers will want to watch their heads when getting in and out.

Where the Buick falls down is in refinement. Ride quality is unlike other Buicks—bouncy and harsh—and the amount of wind noise entering the cabin betrays the Encore’s economy-car roots. The Encore is Buick’s best-seller. But with this segment growing evermore competitive, Buick needs to improve its game if it wants the Encore’s hot streak to continue.

Read about other 2018 SUV of the Year contenders:

  • Audi Q5
  • BMW X4
  • Buick Envision
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Jeep Compass
  • Maserati Levante
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
  • Nissan Rogue Sport
  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country

2017 Buick Encore AWD (Premium)
BASE PRICE $ 32,990
PRICE AS TESTED $ 35,675
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 1.4L/153-hp/177-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,385 lb (61/39%)
WHEELBASE 100.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 168.4 x 69.9 x 65.2 in
0-60 MPH 10.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.9 sec @ 77.5 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 126 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.72 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.6 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 26/31/28 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 130/109 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.69 lb/mile

The post Buick Encore: 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender appeared first on Motor Trend.

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