$15,320 - $20,136

2016 Buick Encore Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Buick Encore was new.


Performance: 7.6

The 2016 Buick Encore has an underpowered base engine, reviewers report, though they note the more powerful available engine offers more punch. The Encore has balanced handling in corners and a smooth, supple ride, but rivals are more nimble and fun to drive.

  • "Driving the 2016 Buick Encore is an experience very much in line with what you'd expect from Buick. … The suspension is also tuned to favor comfort over handling, and so not surprisingly it soaks up most bumps with little drama." -- Edmunds
  • "Underpinned by a version of the Chevrolet Sonic's platform, the Encore delivers a plush ride and surprisingly agile (although not quite sporty) driving dynamics." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "As one might expect from a premium compact crossover SUV, the Buick Encore delivers exceptional ride and handling characteristics, and its little 1.4-liter EcoTec turbocharged engine delivers power when needed while still returning near class-leading fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "It's at this point in the program where the driving enthusiasts among you will probably want to tap out. Said plainly, while competent, this is not an entertaining vehicle to drive." -- Autoblog (2013) 

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Encore comes standard with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 138 horsepower. New for 2016 is a more powerful version of the engine that produces 153 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard. With the base engine, the Encore gets an EPA-estimated 28/34 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class.

The 2016 Encore suffers from a lack of adequate power with the base engine. It struggles to accelerate when loaded with passengers or when equipped with all-wheel drive, which adds weight. Highway driving is also a chore with the base engine, which makes passing at high speeds difficult. However, the new, more powerful engine offers a noticeable upgrade, but it is only available on the Sport Touring trim.

  • "New this year is the Sport Touring model with a version of the standard turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that puts out an additional 15 horsepower and 29 pound-feet of torque. It's a welcome upgrade, which should make for livelier acceleration. Unfortunately, the regular turbo 1.4-liter engine is still used on the remaining Encore trim levels." -- Edmunds
  • "Now, whether a quicker, slicker-looking compact crossover is a noble pursuit is for customers to decide, but we think it's a fine idea. The standard turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine in Buick's spudlet musters a measly 138 horsepower, and the quickest Encore we've tested hit 60 mph in 9.3 seconds. The Sport Touring, on the other hand, gets a 153-hp, 1.4-liter turbo four. … With a welcome 15-hp bump over the base Encore-plus an additional 29 lb-ft of torque, … the Sport Touring's acceleration could threaten the nine-second barrier in front-drive form." -- Car and Driver
  • "Acceleration does bog down a bit when AWD is part of the equation. The same goes for when the passenger count begins to exceed two people." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Our biggest complaint with the Encore is its acceleration. While we appreciate the gas mileage, we'd happily sacrifice a few mpg for a better 0-to-60 time. As it stands, the Encore reaches 60 miles per hour in around 9.5 seconds, which makes it one of the slowest SUVs on the market, but that doesn't even tell the whole story. The Encore feels even more sluggish on the highway, where its 138-hp engine feels overmatched in high-speed passing." -- AutoTrader (2015)

Handling and Braking

The 2016 Encore has standard front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available. The Encore has a smooth, comfortable ride and handles well through turns, but it could be a bit more athletic and fun to drive. Also, the steering doesn't offer much road feel. The Encore is easily maneuverable in tight spaces compared to other SUVs.

  • "Handling is fairly agile and the ride is silky smooth, but we'd like to feel a bit more of the road through the wheel." -- Car and Driver
  • "On the handling front, the Encore feels confident if not particularly sporty, a setup we suspect will suit most buyers just fine. On the upside, the combination of this little SUV's small size and tight turning radius give it a nimble feel larger compact SUVs can't match (but that is nevertheless very much matched or bettered by its subcompact SUV rivals)." -- Edmunds
  • "More importantly, it really does feel like a Buick, meaning that it offers a supple ride thanks to soft, cushy suspension. No, the Encore isn't a sports car around the corners, but we suspect that most buyers would rather have the better ride." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "The 2015 Encore may be a Buick, but its underpinnings are shared with a number of GM vehicles worldwide. As such, the original suspension settings are firmer than what most Americans expect, so Buick has tweaked the Encore's ride so that it won't jar anyone's idea of how a Buick should behave." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)

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