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- Highs Pleasant ride, first-rate infotainment system, comfy interior.
- Lows Substandard fuel economy, wacky proportions, missing driver-assistance features
- Verdict Satisfactorily luxurious but has its fair share of flaws.
The 2020 Buick Encore is the smallest of Buick's SUV lineup and it does a respectable job of emulating the pseudo-luxury feel of its big sibs, the Envision and Enclave. The interior is comfortable, spacious, and high tech, with room for up to four adults. It never truly hits the full-luxury levels of comfort expected in its class. Instead, the Encore serves as a bridge between the high-end players in the size bracket that includes the BMW X1 and the Lexus NX and less expensive offerings from the likes of Chevrolet, Honda, and Nissan.
What's New For 2020?
Encore pricing for 2020 is unchanged from 2019. The biggest loss is found in the engine department, as Buick has dropped the 153-hp turbocharged 1.4L inline-four and only offers the less potent 138-hp engine of the same size. The Sport Touring's equipment list takes a hit, losing navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, and its auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Our pick from the Encore lineup is the Sport Touring with all-wheel drive, despite its various equipment losses for 2020. This trim level offers visual touches to the exterior such as a rear spoiler and 18-inch gray-painted wheels. As with all Encores, there is a standard 8.0-inch infotainment system with a Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability. Other standard features include passive entry with push-button start and active noise cancellation.
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Unfortunately, the Encore no longer offers the 153-hp version of the 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine; for 2020, the only engine available is the underpowered 138-hp engine. We haven't tested an Encore with the base 138-hp engine, but the Buick's corporate twin, the Chevrolet Trax, comes with this engine exclusively and it delivered a leisurely result of 9.3 seconds.
With the passengers sitting high atop a short wheelbase, the Encore has a more top-heavy feel than lower-set rivals such as the Mazda CX-3, and as a result, the Encore leans more heavily in corners. Steering is well-weighted if not particularly engaging, but it's accurate and will be agreeable for buyers seeking a comfort-oriented small crossover. Speaking of comfort, the Encore's suspension soaks up bumps admirably, and harsh impacts are dutifully dampened.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
While we haven't subjected the 138-hp Encore to our real-world fuel-economy test, its EPA ratings lag behind competitors such as the Hyundai Kona, the Mazda CX3, and the Nissan Kicks. The front-drive Encore has an EPA-estimated rating of 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway; the all-wheel-drive Encore's estimates are 24 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Within the Encore's compact body lies an interior that is very nearly premium save for a few missteps. There are some hard plastics in the door panels and lower center console, and the glossy black trim on the center stack of our test vehicle didn't match the glossy gray panels on the doors. However, soft-touch sections on the armrests and dash pad provide a more upscale atmosphere; the flush-mounted infotainment touchscreen and jewel-colored background accents help, too. The front-seat layout is quite good, with controls that are straightforward and redundant knobs on the dash for climate controls. We appreciated the high seating and comfortable driving position, but larger drivers may find the seat bottom too narrow.
The Encore's talents as a utility vehicle start and end with a good performance in our carry-on test: It held 20 of our suitcases with the rear seats folded. Otherwise, the little Buick's interior measurements, difficult-to-fold rear seat, and class-average storage space for small items do little to impress.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Encore comes standard with a host of tech goodies, including an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system—dubbed IntelliLink—with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G LTE data connection with onboard Wi-Fi. Navigation with live traffic and weather updates is optional. A six-speaker audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio is standard and can stream audio from smart devices via Bluetooth, USB, or an auxiliary input jack; a Bose premium audio setup with seven speakers is also available.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Mixed reviews from the two U.S. crash-test agencies and a dearth of driver-assistance tech make the Encore a disappointing choice for buyers focused on safety. To make matters worse, the Encore's back seats may not be sufficient for small families to comfortably fit children in safety seats. Key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning
- Available blind-spot monitoring
- Available lane-departure warning
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Outdone by the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona in this segment, the Encore offers longer warranty coverages than most others including the Trax. The GM trucklets offer a free maintenance visit within the first year of ownership.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit