2019 Buick Encore: Buick’s Smallest SUV

Generous girth, lumbering pace, and outdated interior styling are as closely tied to the brand’s image as the three ribbons/shields placed upon the hood. However, Buick has done a lot in the past few years to market their lineup to a younger generation, one just young enough to perhaps not have known about the boats of yesteryear.

Case in point is the 2019 Buick Encore. A tiny subcompact SUV designed for the adventurous types, it provides a bit of luxury for those long jaunts in the city. Whether you’re a part of the newer generation looking for a bit of sophistication or appreciate the finer things in life, the Buick Encore could be the vehicle for you.

Performance Specifications

The 2019 Buick Encore offers a single engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. However, in an effort to appeal to more driving types, they’ve increased the power rating on a secondary variant. Base types of the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder only make 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, while the more powerful achieve 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque.

Because the 2019 Encore is still a subcompact SUV, the model can be equipped as either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Fuel Efficiency

Although the 2019 Buick Encore uses one main powerplant, there are several fuel efficiency ratings that vary based on model and drive type. For example, the less-powerful 1.4-liter engines on the base and Preferred models achieve 27 city and 33 highway EPA-estimated mpg when equipped with front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive versions dip down to 26 city and 31 highway mpg.

The more powerful 1.4-liter suffers a bit in terms of fuel efficiency. All-wheel-drive models achieve 24 city and 30 highway mpg while front-wheel-drive variants only see 25 city and 33 highway mpg.

Entertainment and Safety Features

With a starting price just north of $23,000, the 2019 Buick Encore offers a lot of features for the price point. Let’s take a closer look at the trim levels.

First on the list is the Base or 1SV trim. This model rides on 18-inch wheels and employs keyless entry and push-button start. Customers will also enjoy cloth seats, roof rails, privacy glass in the rear, cruise control, a fold-flat front passenger seat for increased cargo capacity, and a six-speaker sound system. Other technological features include Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.

Preferred models are the first opening you have for adding on all-wheel-drive and a sunroof. Customers will also receive a rear cargo cover for privacy and floor mats. If you’re looking for additional safety features, optional add-ons include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, along with remote start.

Choose the Sport Touring model for the more powerful 1.4-liter engine, available on the Essence trim as well. Extra features include foglights and a rear spoiler.

Top-dollar trim levels like the Essence offer leather seating, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, and the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert optional on the Preferred trim. For more optional equipment, choose the front and rear parking sensors, as well as additional safety aids such as lane departure warning and forward collision alert. Navigation and a seven-speaker Bose audio system are available as well.

The 2019 Buick Encore received a perfect five stars from the NHTSA for its overall safety rating. The IIHS awarded the 2019 Encore “Good” in all tests except for the passenger-side rating, where it achieved an “Acceptable” rating.

How Buick’s 2019 Encore Compares

Based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Sonic, the Buick Encore strikes some of the same poses most subcompact and compact SUVs must master. Available all-wheel-drive widens the field to allow the Encore to compete with the likes of Subaru, while a similar size likens it to even the popular FIAT 500 and 500L and the MINI Cooper lineup.

Though it’s due for a redesign next model year, the 2019 Buick received surprising feedback given the brand’s changing image. Consumer Reports appreciated the “quiet cabin, great maneuverability for parking, and a smooth ride.” Rear visibility and a lackluster engine response took away points in Consumer Reports’ overall scoring of this model, but Buick does offer a fair amount of pomp and circumstance in this tiny SUV.

U.S. News reports the brand has a “near-perfect predicted reliability rating,” so if you’re looking for a long-term investment, the Encore is a strong choice. Every reviewer agreed that the Buick’s interior rises above the rest, even though you may be paying a premium for such luxury. Edmunds even goes so far as to recommend the Essence trim. It’s rare for a reviewing site to do that, especially given the lesser-priced models are still adequately equipped.

Besides FIAT and MINI, the Encore competes against the likes of Mazda’s CX-3, the Honda HR-V, Toyota’s oddly-shaped C-HR, and the Chevrolet Sonic and Trax twins. Kia also pits their Niro and Soul against Buick’s Encore, alongside the Jeep Renegade, Volkswagen’s Tiguan, and the Nissan Juke replacement, the Kicks. Hyundai also recently introduced the Kona, which features a 1.6-liter turbo engine similar in capability to the Buick’s 1.4-liter. As you can see, the subcompact SUV segment is heating up just as much as the segment in which the larger and more expensive brethren of these models compete.

With the fading existence of family sedans in favor of these hatchbacks and SUVs, what began as a trend may, in fact, become a turning point in automotive history.

Pros

  • Nearly noise-free interior due to superior soundproofing
  • FWD and AWD available
  • Standard equipment level rises above most competitors

Cons

  • Higher price point than most similarly-equipped competitors
  • Lack of multiple powertrain options

From the outside, the 2019 Buick Encore looks like a miniature version of the brand’s larger SUVs, but from within, it’s easy to understand why the marque has succeeded in the industry for so long. And while it may look and sound like you’re couched in a last-century sofa in your grandmother’s sitting room, the Buick Encore is just a preview of the more youthful aspects to enter this historic brand’s lineup.

If you don’t believe us, take a test drive at your nearest Buick dealership. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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