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2018 Buick Encore Review

The 2018 Buick Encore ranks among the best subcompact SUVs because of its above-average predicted reliability rating, terrific safety score, roomy cabin, and straightforward infotainment system.

Pros & Cons

  • High safety scores and good predicted reliability rating
  • User-friendly features
  • Roomy seating
  • Comfortable ride quality
  • Weak engines




Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.8
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Buick Encore Overview

Is the 2018 Buick Encore a Good Used Car?

The 2018 Buick Encore is a good, well-rounded subcompact SUV with a price that won't break the bank.

The 2018 Encore boasts a long list of strengths:

  • Good predicted reliability rating
  • Solid crash-test results
  • Upscale cabin materials
  • Two rows of roomy, comfortable seats
  • Plush ride quality
  • Easy-to-use infotainment features
  • Easy maneuverability in tight spaces

It has few notable weaknesses:

  • Underpowered engine lineup
Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve researched 41 Buick Encore reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability ratings and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars since 2007, and our team has decades of automotive industry experience combined. While we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To ensure our reviews remain impartial, we refuse expensive gifts and trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Buick Encore?

Based on listings for the 2018 Buick Encore on our site, the average price is around $19,700, which is a little below average for its class. Prices range from $16,600 to $24,600 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Buick Encore Cost to Own?

The 2018 Encore’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $22,800, or $4,560 per year. That’s about average for a subcompact SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Encore?

For 2019, Buick simplified the Encore’s trim lineup, eliminating the Preferred II and Premium models and wrapping their features into the Sport Touring and Essence trims. No new features were added. If you were planning on buying a lower trim, a used 2018 model will be a better bet. A used 2018 Encore ranges in price from around $16,600 to about $24,600, while a 2019 Encore starts at $23,200 and goes up to around $30,000.

Read about the new Buick Encore »

The 2018 Encore carries over mostly unchanged from the previous model year. Therefore, you may be better off going with a nearly identical 2017 Encore, which will also probably save you some money. For the 2017 model year, Buick refreshed the Encore's interior and exterior styling and added standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Encore »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Buick Encore?

The 2018 Buick Encore has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power. That’s also the best mark in the subcompact SUV class.

Read more about Encore reliability »

2018 Buick Encore Recalls

At the time of writing, there are no recalls for the 2018 Buick Encore.

See more information on Buick Encore safety recalls »

Which Used Buick Encore Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Buick Encore comes in six trims: 1SV, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence, and Premium. All trims come standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. All trims but the base are available with all-wheel drive. Sport Touring trims and above are also available with a more powerful version of the base engine.

The base model comes standard with most of the infotainment features available for the Encore, but you may want to spring for a higher trim like the Essence for more convenience and safety features. That model adds leather upholstery and heated front seats, along with remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

  • Buick Encore 1SV: The Encore 1SV comes standard with cloth upholstery, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, an 8-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, a rearview camera, voice recognition, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a six-speaker stereo.
  • Buick Encore Preferred: The Encore Preferred only adds a few features, such as a rear cargo cover.
  • Buick Encore Sport Touring: The Encore Sport Touring comes with remote start, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, and fog lamps. Available features in this trim include an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a seven-speaker Bose stereo, HD Radio, a moonroof, navigation, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
  • Buick Encore Preferred II: Added features in the Preferred II trim include an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Available amenities include a seven-speaker Bose stereo, HD Radio, a moonroof, and navigation.
  • Buick Encore Essence: The Encore Essence includes standard leather-appointed seats, heated front seats, a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, driver’s seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel, LED headlights, and a universal garage door opener. The available features from the Preferred II trim are also available in the Essence.
  • Buick Encore Premium: The range-topping Encore Premium comes standard with the seven-speaker Bose stereo, HD Radio, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. A moonroof and navigation are available.

See 2018 Buick Encore trims and specs »

What Does Buick's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Buick offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 75,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Qualifying vehicles receive a one-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty after the four-year/50,000-mile new-car warranty expires. This warranty includes free maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles, and the original new-car powertrain warranty is extended to six years or 100,000 miles. Buick CPO models must pass a 172-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read Buick’s warranty page carefully.

Buick has one of the better CPO programs among affordable carmakers. According to our analysis, only Kia and Mini have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Encore?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Buick Encore an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the frontal crash and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Encore the highest rating of Good in five crash tests. The SUV received the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap test. Properly equipped Encores received the lowest rating of Basic for the effectiveness of their front crash prevention features.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • forward collision warning
  • lane departure warning
  • front and rear parking sensors
  • rain-sensing windshield wipers

See Encore safety scores »

2018 Buick Encore Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Buick Encore or 2018 Chevrolet Trax?

The Buick Encore and the 2018 Chevrolet Trax are related subcompact SUVs under the General Motors umbrella. They have the same amount of cargo space, equal safety scores, and similar standard features that are all user-friendly. Still, the Encore emerges as the better vehicle. It has a slightly better predicted reliability rating and nicer cabin materials. These SUVs both have the same, weak 138-horsepower engine, but the Encore has a peppier available power plant. The Trax costs several thousand dollars less on average, but we think it’s worth spending the extra money for the Buick.

Which Is Better: 2018 Buick Encore or 2018 Hyundai Kona?

The 2018 Hyundai Kona was introduced as an all-new small SUV and ranks with the Encore as one of the best choices in its class. Which one is better will depend on your priorities. The Encore has a slight edge in predicted reliability, but the Kona has better composite safety scores. For an engaging drive, go with the Hyundai. Its available turbocharged engine feels stronger than the Encore’s upgraded powertrain, and the Kona has more athletic handling as well. Both SUVs have comparable feature lists and handsome interiors, but you’ll likely pay more for the Kona than the Encore.

Compare the Encore, Trax, and Kona »

2018 Encore Performance

How Does the 2018 Buick Encore Drive?

The 2018 Buick Encore is available with one of two turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Neither is particularly impressive. The base 138-horsepower version feels strained when carrying a full carload of people, and acceleration feels sluggish. An available 153-horsepower variant feels a little stronger, but it still doesn’t provide great acceleration.

Aside from its woes under the hood, the Encore is a decent vehicle for daily use. It offers a cushioned ride regardless of road quality, and there is little body lean around corners. The Encore’s small size makes it agile and easy to maneuver, which is great in heavy traffic and in tight spaces.

  • Base engine: 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Available engine: 153-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic
Does the 2018 Buick Encore Get Good Gas Mileage?

The 2018 Encore gets good fuel economy ratings for the subcompact SUV class. In a laudable twist, the more powerful engine option is also more fuel-efficient.

  • 138-horsepower four-cylinder, FWD: 25/33 mpg city/highway
  • 138-horsepower four-cylinder, AWD: 24/30 mpg
  • 153-horsepower four-cylinder, FWD: 27/33 mpg
  • 153-horsepower four-cylinder, AWD: 26/31 mpg

Read more about Encore performance »

2018 Encore Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Encore Seat?

The 2018 Buick Encore seats five people in two rows. The front seats are comfortable, and the high seating position provides good driver visibility. There is decent headroom all around and enough space for two adults to sit comfortably in the back.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth upholstery with synthetic leather trim
  • six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel

Available seating features:

  • leather upholstery
  • six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat
  • heated front seats
  • driver’s seat memory settings
  • heated steering wheel
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Buick Encore?

The Buick Encore has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The lower anchors are set deep in the seat, and you might mistake other hardware on the back of the seat for the tether anchors.

2018 Buick Encore Features

The 2018 Encore comes well-equipped on the tech front. The standard IntelliLink infotainment system is user-friendly, with straightforward controls and simple menus. You’ll also get cool features like a Wi-Fi hot spot and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, voice recognition, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a six-speaker stereo
  • Available infotainment features: a seven-speaker Bose stereo, navigation, and HD Radio 
  • Additional standard features: proximity keyless entry and push-button start
  • Other available features: dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage door opener

See 2018 Buick Encore specs »

Read more about Encore interior »

2018 Buick Encore Dimensions

Buick Encore Cargo Space

The 2018 Buick Encore has average cargo volume for a subcompact SUV. It offers 18.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Buick Encore Length and Weight
  • Length: 14 feet
  • Curb weight: 3,237 to 3,358 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Buick Encore Built?

General Motors built the Encore in South Korea.

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