Overall: Buick wants the little Encore to resonate with more drivers, so the company is adding a more powerful engine in its new Sport Touring trim.
Drivetrain: Updated version of Buick’s turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder now delivers 153 horsepower in Sport Touring; 138-horsepower version carries over in the rest; six-speed automatic transmissions for all: front- or optional all-wheel-drive.
While plenty of people giggled when Buick swore it was really getting the hang of smaller vehicles, few laugh now at the little Encore. Even fewer should find the company’s new Sport Touring line humorous, at least until they get behind the wheel. The practical body gets a winged rear spoiler, uniquely finished 18-inch wheels and body-color door handles. From its oval-shaped “waterfall” grille to the tip of its two-tone bumper, the Encore features a neat blend of stylish design cues with just a hint of ruggedness. It actually uses the same platform as Buick’s Verano sedan and Chevrolet’s Cruze and Sonic small cars, however it’s about seven inches longer and five inches taller than the Sonic hatchback, which gives it far more cargo room with the rear seat in place or folded flat. The front passenger seat folds flat so that stuff like ladders and building materials can be more easily accommodated. The cabin is also on the receiving end of one of Buick’s more fashionable interiors. It has active noise cancellation that uses ceiling-mounted microphones to detect engine sounds, then a special computer dishes out counteracting sound waves through the audio system. Standard is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, while the Sport Touring uses direct injection and other tweaks to bring those up to 153 horses and 177 pound-feet. Both engines use the same six-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel-drive system. Base cars arrive with the usual air/cruise/tilt/power accessories plus 10 airbags and 18-inch wheels. From that point, depending on the designation, you select dual-zone climate control, power sunroof, navigation system, leather-trimmed interior, power-adjustable driver’s chair, heated steering wheel, premium Bose sound system, to name just a few. There us also standard OnStar-based 4G LTE mobile Wi-Fi hot spot, which means all your wireless devices have Internet connectivity while on the go.