Versatile, feature-rich Encore proves popular

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The Encore, a compact sport-utility vehicle, is Buick’s best-selling vehicle.

Yes, you read that correctly. Buick, a car company once known for producing large, cushy sedans, has transformed itself and shed its stodgy image. Vehicles like the Encore have helped Buick appeal to a more youthful clientele, and this compact sport-utility segment is flourishing as first-time car buyers prefer them over sedans.

When compared to sedans, sport utility vehicles like the Buick Encore provide a more commanding view of the road along with increased versatility.

While Encore’s step-in height is slightly higher than a sedan’s, it is considerably lower than that of a mid-size or large SUV. Additionally, Encore’s smaller size makes it much more maneuverable and easier to park than larger SUVs.

Some of the newly available features found in the 2017 Buick Encore include LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2017 Buick Encore is offered in six trim levels: base ($22,990), Preferred ($24,365), Sport Touring ($25,565), Preferred II (26,865), Essence ($29,065) and Premium ($30,465).

All trim levels come standard with a 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, and all models feature a six-speed automatic transmission. No other transmission choices are available, but a 153-horsepower version turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine is optional ($895) in Sport Touring and higher trim levels. While it is my preferred engine choice in the Encore, I wish more ponies were available.

In my opinion, the base engine is just too weak, especially if you plan on loading Encore down with passengers and cargo. The optional 1.4-liter engine is adequate and makes the driver feel more confident when pulling out into traffic or merging onto highways.

All Encore models can be equipped with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).

Encore’s cabin is exceptionally quiet and well insulated. The overall ride is smooth and stable, but I did experience some unsteadiness from very strong winds while driving at highway speeds. That is typical, though, for taller vehicles.

Encore’s cabin is nicely styled, but it is snug. There was adequate space up front for my 6-foot-3 frame, but there is very little leg room in the rear when the front seats are in their rearmost positions.

Also small is the cargo area (just 18.8 cubic feet with the rear seat backs upright). But Encore is a versatile vehicle, and its rear seat backs and front passenger seat back can be folded down to accommodate larger or longer items.

For 2017, the base trim level includes 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six-way power driver seat, Bluetooth connectivity, OnStar, built-in Wi-Fi, Buick’s IntelliLink electronics interface (including an 8-inch touch screen and smartphone interface), new 4.2-inch multi-color driver information display, new keyless opening and push-button starting.

Taking all of those standard features into consideration, Encore delivers a near luxury experience with a modest sticker price.



Previously from Autos