2018 Buick Encore

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MSRP: $22,990 - 32,100

2018 Buick Encore Review

The 2018 Buick Encore ranks among the top subcompact SUVs. It has one of the nicest interiors in its class, a good list of standard features, and top-notch predicted reliability ratings. Though its performance won't wow you, it has capable engine power and composed handling.




Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.8
Safety: 9.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Nice interior with lots of standard features
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Nimble handling
  • Excellent predicted reliability
  • Underpowered base engine
  • Higher base price than rivals

Is the Buick Encore a Good SUV?

The smooth riding Buick Encore is one of the most upscale subcompact SUVs, thanks to quality cabin materials, comfortable seats, and loads of standard equipment. It also boasts great predicted reliability. Although neither engine option is powerful, they are fine for everyday commuting and return good gas mileage. 

Should I Buy the Buick Encore?

Though the Encore is a good SUV, it also has a higher starting price than most competitors. You'd be smart to take a look at some higher-ranked rivals that cost less. The Mazda CX-3 is more fun to drive than the Encore. The Chevy Trax shares the same platform as the Encore, but its cabin quality is a notch below the Buick. The CX-3 and the Trax each cost about $2,000 less than the Encore.

Compare the Encore, Trax, and CX-3 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Buick Encore?

Buick didn't make any notable changes to the Encore for 2018, so you may want to consider a nearly identical used 2017 model to save money. Though you could probably save more money by shopping for even older models, the Encore's substantial 2017 refresh makes it a good buy. Changes for the 2017 model year included a revised front-end appearance, a refreshed interior design, available LED headlights, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and a standard 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 

To research some other models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Buick Encore. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Buick Encore »

We Did the Research for You: 40 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Buick Encore review, we researched dozens of professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best buying decision possible. This 2018 Buick Encore review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2013 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than a combined 75 years of experience in the automotive industry. To maintain objectivity, we don't accept incentives or expensive gifts from car companies, and an outside team handles the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Buick Encore Cost?

The Encore has a base price of around $23,000, which is high for the class. However, the Encore does come with a generous allotment of standard features and a pretty nice interior for a subcompact SUV. There are several higher trims, with the highest (the Encore Premium) starting a bit over $30,000.

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 is essentially a less expensive and less upscale version of the Encore. The Buick has a nicer cabin and more standard features, but both SUVs have the same base engine and similar fuel economy. However, the Encore has an optional engine for more power. The Buick also delivers a smoother ride than its Chevy cousin. If you want a more luxurious SUV, go with the Encore. But for those on a tighter budget, the Trax is an OK choice.

Which Is Better: Buick Encore or Mazda CX-3?

The Mazda CX-3 has the best all-around performance in this class, thanks to its peppy engine and superb, responsive handling. The ride quality is great too. Inside, the CX-3 has plenty of high-quality materials and comfortable front seats, but the Encore gives you more rear-seat space. The Encore also boasts more cargo room and a longer list of features. Between these two, it comes down to price and personal preference. The Mazda costs about $3,000 less than the Buick, and it’s a good fit if you want a sporty driving experience. However, the Encore is the better choice if you prefer more features and more space.

Which is Better: Buick Encore or Toyota CH-R?

The Toyota CH-R is an all-new vehicle for 2018, but that's all the excitement this bottom-of-the-barrel subcompact SUV brings. Though it comes with lots of standard advanced safety features, it has poor interior quality and little passenger room. The CH-R also has dull performance. If it was much cheaper than most vehicles in the class, we might be able to recommend it, but the CH-R only costs a few hundred less than the Encore.

Compare the Encore, Trax, and CX-3 »

Encore Interior

How Many People Does the Encore Seat?

The Encore seats five. The front seats are comfortable and provide good driver visibility thanks to a high seating position. The rear seats have a decent amount of headroom and can fit two adults without complaint.

Encore and Car Seats

The Encore has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The lower anchors are hard to access because they’re set deeply in the seats. The top tether anchors are easier to access. There's not enough room for rear-facing child seats unless the front seats are moved up, leaving less space for front passengers.

Encore Interior Quality

The Encore’s cabin is quiet even at highway speeds, and the quality of materials is pretty high. However, the Buick loses points on style because the dashboard’s many buttons give it a cluttered, outdated look.

Encore Cargo Space

The Encore’s cargo hold is pretty typical for the class, and it should meet most needs. It has nearly 19 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is enough for more than a dozen full shopping bags. Fold the rear seats down, and you have more than 48 cubic feet of space, which is enough room for most outdoor gear and even some furniture items. A fold-flat front passenger seat allows you to haul very long items as well.

Encore Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Encore comes standard with satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and the Buick IntelliLink infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, Siri Eyes Free, two USB ports, and Bluetooth. The Encore’s infotainment system won’t give you any headaches; the interface is intuitive and the touch screen is easy to use.

Unlike some competitors, this Buick also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Available features include remote start, a moonroof, and a seven-speaker sound system.

Read more about interior »

Encore Performance

Encore Engine: No Speed Demon

The Encore has two engine options, but neither is especially impressive. The base engine is a 138-horsepower Ecotec turbocharged four-cylinder that feels strained when carrying a full carload of people. The acceleration also feels sluggish. A 153-horsepower turbocharged engine is also available. Though its performance won’t wow anyone, it delivers better acceleration than the base engine. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Encore Gas Mileage: Respectable Ratings

The Encore earns 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Those are better ratings than what many other subcompact SUVs get, though they aren’t class-leading. The Encore will cost you about $100 less per year in gas money than the Chevrolet Trax, but the Mazda CX-3 will cost you even less than the Buick.

Encore Ride and Handling: Great Commuter Vehicle

The Encore is a terrific daily driver. It provides a cushioned ride regardless of road quality, and there is little body lean around corners. The Encore’s small size makes it agile and maneuverable, which is great in heavy traffic or in tight spaces. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available.

Read more about performance »

Encore Reliability

Is the Buick Encore Reliable?

The 2018 Buick Encore earns an excellent predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power. That’s one of the highest ratings in the industry (three is average).

Buick Encore Warranty

Buick covers the Encore with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. That’s a bit better than the warranties offered by many other subcompact SUVs, such as the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3.

Read more about reliability »

Encore Safety

Encore Crash Test Results

The 2018 Buick Encore earns a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Encore the highest rating of Good in all five individual crash evaluations.

Encore Safety Features

The Encore comes standard with a rearview camera. Available active safety features include rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, parking assist, and lane departure warning.

Read more about safety »

Which Buick Encore Model Is Right for Me?

There are a half-dozen trim choices with the Encore. While the Encore does come with a generous amount of standard features, the lower trims offer little beyond them. Some of the higher trims are available with more features for not much more money, making them a better value if you have the flexibility in your budget. If you want the most driver assistance features, the Premium is the trim for you; it has active safety tech not offered in any lower trim.

For most buyers, one of the middle trims will be a great choice. The Sport Touring and Preferred II trims both have starting prices between $25,500 and $27,000. They come fairly well-equipped and are available with some advanced features, giving you most of the value of the highest trims for a few thousand dollars less.

Buick Encore 1SV

The base Encore 1SV trim starts around $23,000. The 1SV doesn’t offer much beyond the standard features – just a few styling upgrades.

Buick Encore Preferred

The Encore Preferred has a starting price of around $24,400. It has a few features the base trim doesn’t – such as a rear cargo cover – but they aren’t really noteworthy. The Preferred is the lowest trim to offer all-wheel drive, which is a $1,500 upgrade.

Buick Encore Sport Touring

The Encore Sport Touring starts around $25,600. It comes standard with remote start. It’s available with the Safety package ($495), which adds rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring. This is the lowest trim to offer the upgraded IntelliLink system with navigation ($495). It’s also the lowest trim available with the 153-horsepower engine. It costs about $500 to upgrade to the stronger engine.

Buick Encore Preferred II

The Encore Preferred II has a starting price around $26,900. Dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert all come standard. The Experience Buick package ($2,390) adds a power moonroof and the upgraded infotainment system with navigation. You can also add those features individually if you don’t want both.

Buick Encore Essence

The Encore Essence starts around $29,100. It comes with a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The Experience Buick package is available.

Buick Encore Premium

The top Encore Premium trim starts around $30,500. It comes with all the features from lower trims and a seven-speaker audio system, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and parking assist. The Experience Buick package is available.

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 2018 Buick Encore specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Buick Encore is a good little SUV that delivers a fairly upscale interior and lots of standard features. It’s also nimble, and the ride is smooth. It’s not a perfect SUV; the engines are a bit weak (especially the base engine) and it’s more expensive than many competitors. Still, there are a lot of reasons to like the Encore.

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

  • "If you like its size and mix of premium features, it's more than likely an ideal pick. But you should also look at the Mazda CX-3, which is just as nice and less expensive to boot. Additionally, the Encore's price is pretty close to what you'll pay for a roomier crossover, such as the Chevrolet Equinox and Honda CR-V. Overall, we recommend a few test drives of competitors, but if you're looking for a nimble, relatively upscale subcompact crossover SUV, the 2018 Buick Encore certainly has some curb appeal." -- Edmunds
  • "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. Although it shares the same platform as the Chevrolet Trax, Buick's take on the 5-door SUV brings a decidedly upscale flavor more in line with the Mazda CX-3, Mini Countryman and Jeep Renegade Limited. 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)
  • "For the 2017 model year, the Encore gets a visual refresh both inside and out, and gives prospective buyers more of the options they want to keep this cute 'ute competitive in the growing subcompact SUV onslaught." -- New York Daily News (2017)
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