2013 Buick Encore
In our test of the BMW X1, we wondered aloud if American luxury buyers are ready for really small crossover utility vehicles. Well we’re about to find out as Buick launches its premium sub-compact crossover, the 2013 Encore.
Buick, hoping for a repeat of the success of the near full-size Enclave, has provided Encore with many of the styling cues of its much larger, and much thirstier brother.
Indeed the desire for better fuel economy is why industry experts think small luxury crossovers will be a growth market here.
International in design, Encore was conceived in Germany as the Opel Mokka, and is built in South Korea, sharing its basic chassis with the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact-car.
Indeed, under the hood is the Sonic’s 1.4-liter I4 turbo rated at 138-horsepower, which combined with a 6-speed manual-mode automatic gives the Encore the highest fuel economy of any domestic crossover; 33 MPG highway in front drive and 30 with all-wheel drive.
But, a big part of the luxury picture is always the interior, and our initial impressions are that the Encore has a very nice one. The 5-seat layout is surprisingly sporty with hooded and binnacled gauges, plus tasteful splashes of chrome and wood trim. Legroom is fairly generous in front, adequate in the rear. Seat down cargo room maxs out at 48.3 cubic feet.
Designed as much for crowded European and Asian streets as our wide open ones, the Encore handles both city streets and extended highways jaunts with equal aplomb. Ride is not as cushy as the Enclave, but it seems nearly as quiet. Encore is arriving at dealers now with prices starting just under $25,000.
Engine: 1.4-liter I4 turbo
Price: Starting just under $25,000