2013 Buick Encore AWD Test Drive

?Buick bows with all new Encore CUV for 2013?


For Buick fans who don?t want or need a vehicle as large as the Enclave, there?s now a right-sized option in the form of the all new Encore 5-passenger Crossover vehicle. The 2013 Buick Encore comes across initially as a mini Enclave anyway (an intentional styling move according to members of the Buick design and marketing teams). Buick?s goal and focus with the Encore is to appeal to fuel economy conscious consumers who also desire a more compact packaging without sacrificing luxury, functionality and versatility.

The Encore will come in four levels of trim content and will go on sale in the first quarter of 2013. Trims include: a base model with a suggested retail price of $24,950. Standard features will include QuietTuning with Bose Active Noise Cancellation, 18-inch wheels, a rearview camera and a seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color display radio with IntelliLink connectivity. An Encore with the Convenience Group adds dual-zone climate control, a 120-volt outlet, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote start and fog lights for $25,760. An Encore with the Leather Group starts at $27,460 and includes all of the above features plus leather-trimmed upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a power passenger seat and driver?s seat memory functions. Encore?s Premium Group includes all content from the Leather and Convenience Packages, along with front and rear park assist, Forward Collision Alert with Lane Departure Warning, a seven-speaker Bose premium audio system with a subwoofer, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a cargo net and area cargo mat. The top of the line model will cost $28,940. Prices include a $750 destination charge.


All Encores in either a Front-wheel drive configuration or All-wheel Drive configuration (AWD is a $1,500 option with an anticipated 25-30% take rate), will draw their motive force from a fuel efficient 1.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve Ecotec Turbocharged .inline 4-cylinder engine with sequential Multiport Fuel Injection and Variable Valve Timing that produces 138 horsepower at 4,900 rpm along with 148 pound feet of torque at 1,850 rpm. Power is transferred to the driving wheels via an electronically controlled six-speed automatic with overdrive, including Driver Shift Control (AWD models only). The engine is positioned forward in a transverse orientation. Encore will be the most fuel efficient crossover produced by a domestic auto manufacturer, with an EPA-estimated 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway for front-drive models. All-wheel Drive models will be rated at 23-mpg city, and 30-mpg highway.


In terms of its visual appeal, the 2013 Buick Encore delivers an elegantly designed and contemporary exterior, starting up front with a waterfall grille, chrome accents and surrounds, portholes on the hood and painted lower panels. Standard body-color door handles with chrome strips and a styled, stainless steel exhaust tip add to Encore?s premium look. Blue-accented halogen composite projector-beam headlamps and detailed taillamps further enhance the stylish exterior; with 18-inch, five-spoke painted aluminum wheels as standard fare. Seven-spoke chromed aluminum wheels are available.


Moving to the inside, the Encore?s distinctive exterior styling cues carry over to a flowing instrument panel that wraps gracefully into the door panels. A prominent central instrument panel houses a voice-activated infotainment system featuring a seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color display for the standard IntelliLink system. It also features displays for the SiriusXM satellite radio and standard rearview camera, along with an available GPS-enabled navigation system.

The cabin is distinguished by an all-Ebony or a contemporary blend of dark and light tones accented with ice-blue ambient lighting, and a select use of bright chrome and faux woodgrain trim. The premium seats are constructed of high-density foam for enhanced comfort. They come trimmed in either a contemporary cloth/leatherette or in available premium leather. A 60/40 flat-folding rear seat features a fold-down armrest with cup holders. Interior upholstery and color combinations include a choice of Ebony or Medium Titanium with Ebony accents; and leather-appointed seats appear in a choice of Ebony, Medium Titanium with Ebony accents, and Saddle with Cocoa accents.


Encore provides ample storage, including eight beverage holders, storage in all four doors, four dash bins, seatback pockets, an available bin beneath the passenger seat and bins under the rear load floor around the spare tire. It offers 18.8 cubic feet of storage behind the split-folding rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat. Even with the rear seat in place, there?s room for at least six full grocery bags. When the rear seat is folded, there?s room for golf clubs and overnight bags for a weekend getaway. The front passenger seat folds flat to extend the cargo length and accommodate longer items.

I was afforded the opportunity to experience driving both FWD and AWD Encore examples in varying trim levels. I spent the most time in an Encore 1SN Premium AWD model that sported a Cocoa Silver metallic exterior with a complementing Saddle Up and Cocoa two-tone exterior. The base sticker read $29,690., while fully loaded with options elevated the final tally to $30,440. Later at home, I tested a FWD version Premium Encore with 18-inch chrome wheels, audio system with navigation,AM/FM/Sirius/XM, Intellilink with 7-inch diagonal screen, USB port, input jack and Destination charge that totaled $30,730. Finished in the same exterior and interior color.


SUMMARY: The 2013 Buick Encore will likely prove to be the perfect size for many consumers, not to mention perhaps the perfect size, with all the right features, and at an almost unbelievable price point considering the high level of desirable feature content.


There were some auto journalists who felt that the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-banger was lacking in power. Admittedly, 138 horses an 148 pound feet of torque are not staggering, but I found the performance to be quite adequate for its intended audience and purpose. The transmission shifts smoothly even in manual mode, but I would have preferred paddle shifters, as the stalk served up a somewhat awkward range of motion.


Road manners delivered a flat, stable ride and the electronic power steering offered a positive on-center feel. The front seat?s bolstering provided ample support and comfort during spirited driving maneuvers, while the rear seats fold flat, as does the front passenger seat to accommodate longer items adding to cargo flexibility and versatility/


Only a couple of other issues arose as questionable – The Bose noise-cancellng sub-woofer that was mounted inside the spare tire, required removal to access the spare, and the lack of a sliding visor extender. The addition of a secondary, fold-down visor would prove to be a safety benefit as well – not just in the new Encore, but in all vehicles.


In the final analysis, the 2013 Buick Encore should prove to be a winner – as popular or more so, as its European counterpart – the Trax, both based on GM?s global Gamma platform. The Encore is built in Bupyeong, South Korea.


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[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: Buick Encore 1SN Premium Group AWD – 2013 [/wptabtitle]

Base Price: $29,690.
Price as Tested: $30,440.
Engine Type and Size: 1.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve Ecotec Turbo .inline 4-cylinder with sequential Multiport Fuel Injection and VVT.
Horsepower (bhp): 138 @ 4,900 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 148 @ 1,850 rpm
Transmission: GF electronically controlled six-speed automatic with overdrive, including Driver Shift Control (AWDmodels only).
Drive Train: Tranversely mounted front engine / All-Wheel Drive.
Suspension: Front – MacPherson strut with coil-over spring; direct-acting stabilizer bar; and steel 6-point rigid attachment front cross member.

Rear – Compound crank (torsion beam); coil springs with twin-tube shock absorbers.Brakes:

Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, TCS, ESC with rollover mitigation and Stabilitrak.

Tires: Continental ContiProContact P215/55 R18 94H mounted on 7-spoke chrome clad alloy wheels.

Wheelbase:100.6 inches

Length Overall:168.5 inches

Width:69.9 inches

Height:65.2 inches

Curb Weight:3.309 lbs.

Fuel Capacity:14.0 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates:23 mpg city / 30 mpg highway

Drag Coefficient:Not listed.

0 – 60 mph: Not listed.



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