2013 Buick Encore

March 8, 2013

Bottom line: It is the smaller and less comfortable Buick Encore and not the larger, substantially more comfortable Buick Enclave. It is surrounded by worthy, competitively priced rivals, including the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It is average on all counts.

Head-turning quotient: It gets high marks here, which is why it probably will sell well in China, where “face,” the appearance of the thing, is at least 60 percent of the win factor in wooing customers.

Body style/layout: The Encore is a compact, front-engine, all-wheel-drive people hauler with four side doors and a rear hatch.

Engine/transmission: The Encore comes standard with a turbocharged ­
1.4-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine that develops 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Capacities: Here’s the problem. The Encore is designed to hold five people. But it comfortably seats four. Cargo space is small, barely adequate for four soft-sided overnight bags. The fuel tank holds 14 gallons of gasoline. Premium grade is preferred for “best performance,” but you can get by with regular.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock protection, cornering brake control and emergency braking assistance, electronic stability and traction control, rear-vision camera, OnStar emergency communications system, and side and head air bags (10 standard air bags in all). A lane-departure warning system is optional.

Price: The 2013 Buick Encore starts at $29,690. Estimated dealer’s invoice price is 27,000. Add a $795 destination charge.

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