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2020 Buick Encore Review

The 2020 Buick Encore ranks near the top of the subcompact SUV class, largely because of its perfect predicted reliability rating. Straightforward infotainment controls and a silky ride only increase this Buick's appeal that much more.

Pros & Cons

  • Top-notch predicted reliability rating
  • Gentle ride
  • Lots of standard features
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Underpowered engine
  • High base price

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Buick Encore's #3 ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact SUVs category. Currently the Buick Encore has a score of 7.9 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 48 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.0
Performance: 7.0
Interior: 7.3
Safety: 8.8
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Buick Encore a Good SUV?

Yes, the 2020 Encore is a great subcompact SUV. It has an upscale cabin, a cushioned ride, and an easy-to-use infotainment system. The back seats are spacious enough to hold two average-sized adults comfortably. This Buick is also a class leader for predicted reliability. However, it does have a few shortcomings. Some of its rivals have livelier engines, swifter acceleration, and larger cargo holds.

Should I Buy the Buick Encore?

The Encore’s across-the-board appeal makes it a solid choice for small SUV shoppers. However, it is pricey and has meager engine output. The Hyundai Kona has a similar list of standard features and can be outfitted with a potent turbocharged engine option, and the Mazda CX-3 is one of the sportiest-handling SUVs in the class.

Buick is planning to launch the all-new Encore GX later in the 2020 model year. In terms of size, it sits between the Encore and the Envision in Buick's SUV lineup.

Compare the Encore, Kona, and CX-3 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Buick Encore?

Buick launched the Encore as an all-new SUV for the 2013 model year. The Encore received a refresh for 2017, giving it updated interior and exterior styling as well as standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There were no major changes for 2018, and the trim lineup was simplified for 2019. For 2020, Buick discontinued the Encore’s 153-horsepower turbocharged engine option.

If you’re after the more-powerful engine, you'll have to skip the new Buick Encore. For those looking for a similar vehicle with a lower average price, we recommend models from 2017 through 2019.

Be sure to read our 2017 Encore, 2018 Encore, and 2019 Encore reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Encore »

We Did the Research for You: 41 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about the Buick Encore in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates and cargo space dimensions with professional evaluations from 41 automotive sources. This Buick Encore review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which includes the 2013 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Buick Encore Cost?

The 2020 Encore has a base MSRP of $23,200. That’s above average for the class, but this Buick also comes better equipped than many of its rivals. The high-end Essence trim starts at $29,300.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Buick dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Buick deals page.

Buick Encore Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Buick Encore or Chevrolet Trax?

The Chevrolet Trax has a lot in common with the Encore. Each small SUV comes with the same engine, and they have similar passenger and cargo dimensions. The Trax has a lower starting price, but for reference, the midlevel Trax LT is similar in price and feature content to the base Encore. Overall, the Buick is the better pick in this comparison because it has nicer cabin materials, a smoother ride, and a much better predicted reliability rating.

Which Is Better: Buick Encore or Honda HR-V?

The Honda HR-V is a decent subcompact SUV. It has an enormous cargo hold for the class and plenty of passenger room, in addition to fantastic fuel economy estimates. The HR-V has sharper steering than the Encore, too. On the other hand, the entry-level Buick comes with a richer set of features, and it has a better history of predicted reliability. Unless you need the Honda’s extra space, the Buick is a better choice.

Compare the Encore, Trax, and HR-V »

Encore Interior

How Many People Does the Encore Seat?

The 2020 Buick Encore seats up to five people. The seats are comfortable, and there’s a good amount of head- and legroom in both rows. A six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and cloth upholstery come standard. Upgrades include leather seats, a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Encore and Child Car Seats

The Encore has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat.

Encore Interior Quality

This Buick has a quiet and upscale cabin with some high-quality plastic surfaces.

Encore Cargo Space

This SUV has 18.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and a total of 48.4 cubic feet after folding down the rear seats. Both figures are par for the course among subcompact SUVs.

Encore Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This Buick has a straightforward infotainment system, and it doesn't take long to master the controls. The Encore comes with a healthy assortment of features for a small crossover SUV, including an 8-inch touch screen, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, two USB ports, and Bluetooth. Navigation and a premium seven-speaker Bose stereo are available.

Read more about interior »

Encore Performance

Encore Engine: Dreary

Standard throughout the 2020 Buick Encore lineup is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Since Buick discontinued the stronger turbo engine for 2020, this is the only power plant you can get.

The Encore's engine fails to impress. It feels strained when there are more than two people in the SUV, and acceleration comes sluggishly.

Encore Gas Mileage: Thrifty

The Encore gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is about average for the class. For models with all-wheel drive, subtract 1 mpg from each figure.

Encore Ride and Handling: Comfortably Composed

This Buick has a gentle ride, and its suspension soaks up most road flaws. It’s also highly maneuverable and exhibits minimal body lean around corners. For some folks, however, the steering is numb and overly light, keeping the Encore from feeling truly sporty.

Read more about performance »

Encore Reliability

Is the Buick Encore Reliable?

The 2020 Buick Encore has a perfect predicted reliability rating of five out of five from J.D. Power.

Buick Encore Warranty

The Encore is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Encore Safety

Encore Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Encore an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in frontal and side crash tests and four stars in rollover tests.

Encore Safety Features

A rearview camera is the only standard driver assistance feature in this crossover. Some rivals have more standard driver aids. Front and rear parking sensors are available, as are forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Read more about safety »

Buick Encore Dimensions and Weight

The 2020 Encore measures about 14 feet long. Its curb weight ranges 3,237 to 3,358 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Buick Encore Built?

General Motors builds the 2020 Encore in South Korea.

Which Buick Encore Model Is Right for Me?

Buick offers the Encore in four trim levels: 1SV, Preferred, Sport Touring, and Essence. Buick discontinued the stronger turbocharged engine for 2020, so all trims have the same powertrain consisting of a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbo-four engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard across the board; all-wheel drive is available in all but the base 1SV.

Unless you want all-wheel drive or more safety features, there’s little reason to move past the base trim and its long list of standard tech features.

Buick Encore 1SV

The entry-level Encore 1SV has a starting MSRP of $23,200. Standard features include an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, two USB ports, satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, a Wi-Fi hot spot, proximity keyless entry, cloth seats, a flat-folding front passenger seat, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a rearview camera. Every Encore trim comes with QuietTuning, which helps block unwanted road noise.

No major packages are available with this trim.

Buick Encore Preferred

The Buick Encore Preferred retails for $24,600. Outside of a rear cargo cover and floor mats, it doesn’t add much over the 1SV.

Most of its gains come in packages or options, and this is the lowest trim to offer all-wheel drive, a $1,500 upgrade. The Safety package costs $495 and adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a 120-volt household-style power outlet. A moonroof is available for $900, and remote start costs $300.

Buick Encore Sport Touring

The Sport Touring ($25,800) gains only remote start. A seven-speaker Bose stereo and HD Radio are available for $595. A navigation system is available too. Otherwise, it has the same options as the Preferred trim.

Buick Encore Essence

Starting at $29,300, the Essence is the most well-equipped trim in the lineup. In addition to the contents of the Safety package, it comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-appointed seats, a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The Experience Buick package ($2,390) adds a navigation system and a moonroof. The Safety Package II costs $940 and features forward collision warning, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and an in-cabin air purifier. The Bose stereo remains available too.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Buick dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Buick deals page.

See 2020 Buick Encore specs and trims »

The Final Call

There’s a lot to like about the 2020 Buick Encore. It’s handsomely equipped with a straightforward infotainment system, and it has a decent amount of passenger space. The ride remains poised and gentle over most roads, and its cabin materials are upscale. If you can look past its meager engine power, the Encore is a choice worth considering.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Its sophisticated design and classy cabin are consistent with the rest of the Buick brand, and the vehicle comes with abundant standard tech. Then there's how it drives. Even the priciest versions of the competitors can't match the base Encore's quiet comfort and overall refinement. A back-to-back drive of the mechanically related Chevrolet Trax should make it obvious how much more livable this little Buick is. Of course, the Encore costs more than its rivals, but we're guessing that'll be just fine for folks who are more interested in its size. It should also be noted that the Encore is considerably cheaper than SUVs of comparable comfort and sophistication. Less defensible are the glacial acceleration and relatively cramped back seat and cargo space. Sure, you may be seeking a small SUV, but perhaps not one this small. It won't be for everyone, but for many, the 2020 Encore may hit a sweet spot." -- Autotrader
  • "Certain rivals, such as the Mazda CX-3, feel just as nice without the Encore's premium price. But for a quiet and refined subcompact SUV that's easy to drive and maneuver in tight spots, the 2019 Buick Encore is well worth a look." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "For style-conscious young buyers, as well as empty nesters looking to downsize but not compromise, Buick's 2017 Encore compact SUV makes a tempting prospect. … Though it may be tight on interior space, the Encore delivers big in the areas of luxury, efficiency and high-tech." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
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2020 Buick Encore

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