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2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Buick, SUV, Test Drives

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Buick shrinks its popular Enclave SUV by introducing a smaller version of the full-size model for consumers looking for a smaller yet luxurious, versatile and safe crossover utility vehicle.  The all-new 2013 Buick Encore crossover delivers Buick’s signature style, interior acoustic refinement and luxury amenities in a maneuverable, versatile and efficient package.  With room for five, and up to 48.4 cu.ft. of storage space with the rear seat folded, Encore offers substantial cargo capacity along with its confident higher driving position, available AWD and contemporary crossover styling.  Buick’s exclusive Quiet Tuning is standard and features Buick’s first use of Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology.  I tested the new Premium FWD top-of-the-line trim level and found this new Encore to be very engaging and fun-to-drive with all of the luxury, convenience and the latest safety systems that I have become accustomed to driving other high-trim level compact CUVs.  This all-new Buick Encore hits the mark!

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Encore’s sculpted and elegant styling identifies it as a contemporary Buick.  Signature cues include a waterfall grille, a lower air-intake to channel air into the turbo’s intercooler, chrome accented foglamps, faux potholes on the hood, steeply raked windshield pillars, molding around each wheel arch, a ‘hockey stick’ chrome strip around the greenhouse, door handles with chrome strips, and painted lower side extensions.  Also featured are blue-accented halogen composite projector-beam headlamps and detailed taillamps, a spoiler up top of the liftgate, standard aluminum roofrails, a rear diffuser to smoothly channel air out the rear and a stainless steel exhaust tip, all adding to the premium look of the Encore.  Big 18X7 inch chrome aluminum wheels are wrapped with Michelin 215/55R18 inch  all-season radials that enhance handling capabilities.  The all-new Encore is the smaller Buick CUV that can do it all.

2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium Engine Done Small

The Encore is powered by an efficient, power-dense Ecotec 1.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with DOHC with double continuously cam phaser intake and exhaust. This potent engine generates 138hp at 4,900rpm and 148lb.ft. of torque at just 1,850rpm.  The engine’s turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility.  A reinforced crankshaft and forged connecting rods deliver additional strength to support the engine’s pressurized power and torque over a wide rpm band.  The engine is mated to a Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic with sequential shifting in Manual mode.  It is a part of a family of six-speed front and all-wheel drive transaxles developed for small cars and crossovers.  It has a unique design with the planetary gearsets positioned on the same axis as the engine crankshaft centerline, making the entire powertrain unit shorter for-to-aft.  This design enables a shorter overall vehicle length, increased interior space, enhanced safety crush zones and lower weight overall.  It also offers a ‘steep’ first gear and a ‘tall’ overdrive to achieve a wide ratio spread of 6.14:1.  This allows the Encore to achieve robust acceleration, 0-60mph in just 7.0sec. with fuel efficiency of 25mpg/city and 33mpg/highway, as well as lower engine noise at highway cruising speeds.  I was very impressed with the quick launch with very little torque steer of this 3,190 pound FWD compact CUV.  The optional AWD system seamlessly shifts power to the rear wheels when required for better traction and handling.

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Encore’s 100.6 inch wheelbase and wide stance-60.6 front/rear tracks-contribute to a more confident-feeling driving experience, while a strong structure enables greater suspension precision and a quieter ride.  Two hydraulic engine mounts are tailored to the engine’s inherent torque axis to disrupt the transmission of vibration and noise.  This configuration also helps control the transfer of momentum, resulting in improved dynamic balance.  Further enhancing this dynamic ride balance and giving the Encore excellent and fun-to-drive capabilities is its unique suspension system.  A MacPherson strut front suspension is used with coil-over springs, a direct acting stabilizer bar, hydraulic ride bushings, a side-load-compensated front strut modules and a steel 6-point rigid attachment front crossmember.  The hydraulic ride bushings in the front control arms provide a smoother ride, better a noise isolation and wheel control.  The unique rear suspension setup includes a compound crank (torsion beam) design with double-wall tubular V-shape beam profile with gas-charged twin-tube shocks and coil springs.  It combines all the advantages of a conventional torsion beam axle including minimal space requirements, with low weight and consistent camber control.  Noise-damping urethane spring isolators are used to improve ride isolation and dampen noise.  Guiding this unique suspension system is a column-mounted, variable-effort, electric power steering system with a rack &pinion gear with a straight ratio.  It gave me pin-point control with split second response to my inputs.  I was very impressed with the system and its FWD configuration.  The steering system also gave me a tight 36.7 foot turning diameter besides saving fuel than an engine-driven power steering pump.

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Slowing the all-new Encore down from speed are power-assisted steel disc brakes.  Up front are 11.8 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers and 10.6 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Standard ABS, Traction Control and GM’s proven StabiliTrak help maintain control of the Encore when braking hard on wet or slick pavement.  When I pressed hard on the brake pedal the feeling was very linear.  Buick engineers got it right with the powertrain, suspension and brake system giving the consumer a fun-to-drive compact CUV that only gets better when you open the doors and gaze upon the interior.

With the windows closed and cruising on the highway the all-new Encore is very quiet and smooth.  Buick’s QuietTuning comes standard and features Buick’s first application of Bose Active Noise Cancellation.  It uses ceiling-mounted microphones to detect audible noise, the frequencies of which are processed by a computer that directs counteracting sound waves through the audio system’s speakers and subwoofer.  Additional standard QuietTuning features include acoustically treated headliner with a tuned gap between it and the high-strength steel roof panel, sound-absorbing materials in the cabin, under the hood and in the wheel house liners, Quiet-tuned 18 inch Continental tires, aero-optimized/heated/remote controlled outside mirrors, ultra-quiet engine alternator, acoustic-laminated windshield and thicker, 5mm side window glass and foam baffle insulation at the opening of body structure cavities.  These new technologies really works as you can easily speak with all of your passengers.

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Look around and see all around you with plenty of glass for excellent visibility.  The interior’s distinctive styling carries over to a flowing instrument panel with soft-to-the-touch material that wraps naturally into the door panels.  The rallye styled instrument cluster is easy to see and understand with a trip computer readout box in between the speedometer and tachometer, a prominent central instrument panel houses the seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color display for the standard IntelliLink voice-activated infotainment system.  It also features displays for the SiriusXM satellite radio and standard reaview camera, as well as the optional GPS-enabled navigation system.  My test Encore Premium came with a mix of dark and light tones which is accented further with ice-blue ambient light, bright chrome and high-quality faux woodgrain trim on the dashboard and doors.  My Premium trim Encore came with comfortable and supportive leather seats that are heated and feature power seat bottoms and power lumbar adjustment for both front bucket seats.  The 60/40 flat-folding rear seat features a pull-down armrest with dual cupholders.  The front center console also features dual cupholders plus an accordion topped storage bin.  Buick designers filled Encore with ample storage that CUV consumers look for.  They include eight beverage holders, four grab handles for easy entry/exit, storage in all four doors, four bins in the dash, pockets in the seatbacks, an available bin beneath the passenger seat and bins under the rear load floor around the spare tire.  It offers 18.8 cu.ft. of storage space behind the split-folding rear seat and 48.4 cu.ft. with the rear seat folded.  With the rear seats in place, there is room for at least six full grocery bags.  When the rear seat is folded, there’s room for golf clubs and overnight bags for a weekend getaway.  Even the front passenger seat folds flat to extend the cargo length and accommodate long items that otherwise would not fit in a vehicle of this size.

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More standard equipment not mentioned above includes two-person memory package for the driver seat settings, outside mirrors, audio system and air-conditioning, power windows with express down at all four doors plus driver’s-side express up, rain-sensing windshield wipers/washers, dual-zone automatic climate control, dual lighted visors, self-dimming rearview mirror, cargo cover, power door locks, cruise-control, 120-volt power outlet, tilt/telescopic/leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise-control buttons, front/rear parking assist, Bose Premium AM-FM-CD radio with USB port, input jack and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, dual map lights, remote engine starter, and front/rear/cargo mats.  Options included in my Premium Encore included 18 inch chrome wheels, and the Bose audio system with navigation/Sirius satellite radio with IntelliLink.

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Standard safety features include 10-airbags including side-curtain airbags, 5-three-point safety belts, remote keyless entry with panic alarm, automatic headlamp control, ONSTAR collision alert and communication systems, forward collision alert, lane departure alert, tire pressure monitor, front/rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, content theft alarm, rear vision camera system and side mirrors with blind-side detector concave mirrors.

After my one-week test drive I was very impressed with what Buick designers and engineers have done in the small CUV segment.  This new Encore is one of the best in all aspects that consumers are looking for, especially mpg as I received, according to the trip computer, 29.9mpg average of city and highway driving and I drove more than 450 miles.  Test drive one and you’ll agree.



  • Price: $28,190.00-base/$31,475.00-as tested including destination charges
  • Engine: Ecotec 1.4 liter DOHC turbocharged four-cylinder 138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm / 148 lb.ft. of torque @ 1,850 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 100.6 inches
  • Total length: 168.5 inches
  • Total width: 69.9 inches
  • Total height: 65.2 inches
  • Minimum ground clearance: 6.2 inches
  • Headroom: f/r-39.6/38.8 inches
  • Legroom: f/r-40.8/35/8 inches
  • Fuel tank: 14-gallons
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
  • EPA specs: 25mpg/city and 33mph/highway



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