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2019 Buick Encore Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.7

Performance is a mixed bag with the 2019 Buick Encore. On the one hand, it’s a composed, maneuverable subcompact SUV that delivers a comfortable ride over almost any road surface. On the other hand, its base engine lacks adequate power and feels strained when the vehicle is loaded with people or cargo. The optional, more powerful engine – while better – still fails to impress. Fuel economy is pretty good for the class.

  • 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 making 138 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine fails to impress. The acceleration is sluggish, and the engine feels strained if more than two people are in the car.

A more powerful version of this engine is available, rated at 153 horsepower. While it does have more power and slightly better acceleration, the differences are minor.

The Encore gets better fuel economy than many class rivals, earning an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

  • The Buick Encore does well as a city commuter car. It's nimble in traffic and gets away from a stoplight quickly. But power is lacking for stress-free highway acceleration and passing." -- 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. … 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." -- 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 on all but the base trim. The Encore is highly maneuverable and very quiet. Ride quality is smooth over uneven pavement. The Encore handles well around turns and is agile on crowded roads. The steering, however, feels a little vague at times.

  • "The Encore is relatively comfortable. It's quiet on the highway, which is one of its best features, and the ride quality is relaxed without being wallowy." -- 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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