When Buick rolled out their new Encore in 2012 as a 2013 model, my first impression was that it was not large enough to proudly carry the Buick tri-shield emblem – unlike anything sold by the company in its 110-year history. It was small like Audi’s Q3, BMW’s X1, and VW’s Tiguan, but Buick? My mind was changed when I drove one and also when I noticed that they were almost everywhere you looked out on the road.
Recently I got an extended test drive of Buick’s 2019 Encore that included some small revisions to what has become, as mentioned, an extremely popular compact utility vehicle. It is Buick’s best seller, and is sold locally by Weld County Garage, King Buick and Markley Buick in Northern Colorado.
My 2019 test car was painted Winterberry red metallic and featured Ebony cloth and leatherette seating inside. The M.S.R.P. was $27,985, including a safety package ($495), upgraded paint ($395) and freight ($995). The safety package included side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert. Base price is $26,100. The Encore is a derivative of the Opel Mokka, and is manufactured in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon, South Korea. Opel, of course, is a giant German firm that is a division of General Motors. I bought a brand new 1973 Opel “Manta” after college, and it was perhaps the cutest car I ever owned – the Encore extends the tradition of attractiveness, 46 years later.
The Encore that I tested was the Preferred all-wheel drive model and it included standard equipment such as power 6-way driver’s seat, rear vision camera, keyless open, pushbutton start, cruise, Bluetooth connectivity, ten air bags, tilt/telescope, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and OnStar (with Wi-Fi hotspot technology). The driver’s front bucket has an armrest for both passengers up front to share, one that is not all that adequate. The back seat is 60/40 and folds down to offer 48.4 cubic feet of cargo room, 18.8 when not folded down. The Encore interior is pretty, has ample soft materials and along with the cargo room, gets the job done.
Power for this Buick is supplied by a 1.4 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 lb. ft. of torque. The transmission is a Hydra-matic 6T40 six speed automatic with driver shift control. Zero to 60 mph time is 9 seconds. EPA ratings are 24 mpg city/29 mpg highway/26 mpg combined, and the tank holds 14 gallons of regular gasoline. The Encore has a wheelbase of 100.6”, overall length of 168.4”, height of 65.2″, width of 69.9″, and weighs 3,358 lbs. The tires are P215/55R18 Continental all-season radials. It is the shortest Buick every built, with the shortest wheelbase offered by the company since 1975, but it drives bigger than the specs indicate with ride, handling, and guidance that are on target. And parking? Wow, it’s a snap!
I have been an onlooker with all the Encores that have been around since its introduction seven years ago, so it was nice to get behind the wheel of the new 2019. As I drove around and photographed the car, onlookers were admiring the LED daytime running lamps, ten-spoke alloy wheels, deep tinted rear glass, three-stage chrome hood vents, black cladding and chrome door handles. I’d like to have driven the Buick some more, and I can see why Buick sold 93,073 Encores in 2018 and are on pace to sell almost 100,000 in 2019.