$16,981 - $24,446

2018 Buick Encore Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Buick Encore was new.


Performance: 7.7

Performance is a mixed bag with the 2018 Buick Encore. On the one hand, it’s an agile, maneuverable small SUV that delivers a comfortable ride over almost any road surface. On the other hand, its base engine lacks adequate power, and the optional engine – while better – still fails to impress. Fuel economy is pretty good for the class, though.

  • "The Encore's small size makes for impressive maneuverability in urban traffic and parking lots, but its base engine leaves the little crossover wanting more when it comes time to enter the freeway. The optional four-cylinder engine that offers a bit more horsepower is worth serious consideration." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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)
  • "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)

Acceleration and Power

The Encore’s base engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that puts out 138 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine fails to impress. The acceleration is … let’s call it leisurely. It also feels strained if you have more than a couple of people in the car.

There is a more powerful engine option available. It, too, is a 1.4-liter turbo-four, but it makes 153 horsepower. While it does have more power and slightly better acceleration, the differences aren’t that significant.

The Encore gets better fuel economy than many class rivals, earning an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

  • "The Encore's performance, however, is still a little disappointing. The Encore is related to the Chevrolet Trax, and both have a base 138-horsepower turbocharged engine. Acceleration is slow, and real-world fuel economy is underwhelming. Buick offers a more powerful 153-hp engine upgrade, but it's not a huge difference. Additionally, you'll typically pay more to get an Encore compared [to] similarly sized rivals." -- Edmunds
  • "The one thing the little Buick really needed pre-refresh was a bit more power, and the new engine … addresses that issue. It ain't fast, but it's certainly quicker than before, dropping 0-60-mph time from 9.6 seconds to what feels like high 8-second range. The Encore no longer saunters off the line from a stop but instead eagerly zips forward to plug a gap in traffic like a good city car ought to. Power is good on the freeway, too; where many little engines tend to falter, the Encore's uprated engine offers up good passing power for its size. The transmission is pretty good around town and on highway cruises, making decisive shifts and making the most of the little engine's powerband." -- Motor Trend (2017)
  • "The tiny 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine does its best to deliver power when needed, but it struggles when the Encore's passenger count exceeds two persons." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Encore comes standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available. Because it’s so small, the Encore is highly maneuverable. It also handles well around turns and has good agility on crowded roads. The steering feels a little vague at times, however. The Encore rides smoothly even over rough roads.

  • "The Buick Encore does well as a city commuter car. It's nimble in traffic and gets away from a stoplight quickly. But passing power is lacking for stress-free highway acceleration and passing. Handling is far from sporty." -- Edmunds
  • "The Buick's body roll and ride quality were exceptional – not easy to do in such a tall, short package like the Encore's – and its steering rack, although a touch too light in the feel department, offered up satisfactory feedback from the road." -- Motor Trend (2017)
  • "Handling is fairly agile and the ride is silky smooth, but steering lacks feel." -- Car and Driver (2017)

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