Take the badge off the 2021 Buick Encore and you might think this pint-sized four-door belonged to a foreign car manufacturer. You know, the ones who pair small-displacement engines with enough characterized body lines to impress Fisher Price executives?
Don’t be fooled by the traditional Buick insignia, however. There’s nothing stodgy about the newest Encore. Considering the daring lines found on the similar (but altogether different) Encore GX, we’d say Buick has a few tricks up its sleeve. While those tricks may not be geared towards kids, they do reveal Buick’s continued efforts to appeal to the younger generation.
Really, the 2021 Encore fits the lifestyle of multiple generations. From college kids looking for something easy to maintain, to seniors wanting a vehicle they can park easily around town and drive with confidence, the 2021 Encore has a lot more to offer. Some of its charm doesn’t seem apparent at first, though. So keep reading to find out more about this versatile SUV.
Buick equips the 2021 Encore with a singular powerplant. This turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder makes 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the powerplant can be purchased in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. Unfortunately there isn’t a more powerful option for drivers who like to have a bit more ooooomphh at their disposal. While Buick keeps trying to shed their reputation as “Grandpa’s Car,” their sole engine option on the Encore does little to help.
Below are the factory paint schemes of the 2021 Buick Encore.
- Ebony Twilight Metallic
- Summit White
- Quicksilver Metallic
- White Frost Tricoat
- Dark Moon Blue Metallic
- Cinnabar Metallic
Trimlines and Pricing
Now that you’ve picked out which color you like, take a closer look at the trim levels available. There’s really a couple, with additional features added a la carte.
Starting at $24,195, the base model Encore seats up to five passengers. You’ll enjoy the standard push button start and keyless entry, along with the 18-inch wheels. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included. Summit White is the only color option you’ll have in this front-wheel drive base model. An eight-inch touchscreen fills the center console and a power driver’s seat makes customizing your driving position easy. The all-wheel drive version pushes the price up to $26,215.
Unless you’re looking for a bare bones vehicle, the Preferred trim is likely the more popular option. It’s not even that much of a price difference, at $25,595. All-wheel drive is available on this model too, starting at $26,215. You can also select the rest of the color options — all at premium price, though. Carpeted floor mats and a rear cargo cover come standard on the Preferred model, along with remote start, a sunroof, and two safety packages. You can read more about them in the next section.
Buick offers a score of safety systems on the 2021 Encore. They include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and frontal collision alert with lane-departure warning. Check with your local Buick dealer to ensure the trim you’re choosing includes the safety features you need.
As you look further into the safety of the 2021 Encore, keep in mind that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the model top marks. With 5 out of 5 stars from the NHTSA and a top-rated “Good” score in most IIHS tests, the 2021 Encore can be trusted to keep you and your family safe.
The singular powerplant on the 2021 Encore achieves respectable fuel efficiency ratings. The four-cylinder engine makes 25 city and 30 EPA-estimated miles per gallon (MPG) when purchased as a front-wheel drive car. In all-wheel drive, the Encore loses one point in each category. Those aren’t bad numbers at all for the Encore’s class.
What They Are Saying…
Though many manufacturers are saying goodbye to their sedans and embracing the popularity of SUVs, the compact crossover segment has seemingly taken the place of the traditional four-door family car. Practically all that differs between the two segments is all-wheel drive and a lifted ride height. So where does the 2021 Buick Encore fit in?
Well, it’s the smallest of the Buick SUVs, which also include the Envision and Enclave. And as we mentioned previously, the Encore GX is basically a separate model entirely. There are many aspects the 2021 Encore has going for it, from the smaller size and peppy engine, to the level of creature comforts and style only Buick can offer. That said, the 2021 Encore encounters stiff competition from many other brands looking to claim the same customer base.
Reviewers of the 2021 Encore had a lot of praise for the model. However, it tends to be overshadowed by the upcoming Encore GX. Kelley Blue Book claims the 2021 Encore is “easy to park and drive” and agreed it had a “value-oriented starting price.” Edmunds recommended the Preferred trim and noted the model had a “hushed cabin at highway speeds.”
Truth be told, CarAnd Driver probably summed it up best when they said the Encore “does a good job of distilling Buick sensibilities down to a small scale, but others in this small-SUV class are simply better.” Once you start looking closer at the finer details, the 2021 Encore just doesn’t always stack up.
For instance, small details start to nag at you. Like the lack of an armrest for the front passenger, for instance. Or the tight rear seat space and absence of advanced safety features found on other models. These minor annoyances might leave you feeling that you’re missing something. After all, if Buick purports to be a luxury brand, you’d think you’d be paying for both creature comforts and a heightened sense of safety, especially for the price. That’s really what might drive you to look at rivals. The Encore is a bit limited when it comes to features to choose from. Then again, the starting price is hovering around the $25,000 mark, so you get what you pay for.
Speaking of rivals, it would behoove you to research and test drive the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, or Chevrolet Trax. The Nissan Kicks and Mazda CX-30 are cheaper alternatives to consider as well — and actually do better when it comes to sipping gas.
“Soon to be overshadowed by the fresher Encore GX,” we’d be willing to wager the 2021 Encore may soon follow the same path as those other four-door sedans that were discontinued. This is even more likely, given the fact that Buick has been pushing the brand onto younger audiences recently. On the other hand, that might mean you will be able to find a good deal on a new Encore in the near future. Only time will tell.
The Last Word
The 2021 Encore brings a dash of luxury to the compact SUV segment. While it’s certainly not a bite-size Bentley, the Encore still does a respectful job of lifting the bar high. It’s worth checking out the Encore GX too. Those dynamic body lines and even peppier spirit might just have you exchanging your keys for a new set. Test drive the 2021 Encore at your local dealership today to find out for yourself.