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2017 Buick Encore

$22,990 - $31,965
Price Range (MSRP)
Buick Encore

2017 Buick Encore Review: Refresh Works Wonders

by Gabe Beita Kiser

Buick was early to the subcompact crossover game, debuting the Encore for 2013 before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. For the 2017 model year, Buick gives the Encore its first major refresh with styling now inspired by the Avenir Concept and LaCrosse. But underneath a refreshed exterior and interior, the platform and mechanicals remain the same as before. Buyers still have a choice between front- and all-wheel drive and two 1.4-liter turbocharged engines - a 138 horsepower base engine and a direct injection version offering 153 hp. For 2017 the Encore is priced between $22,990 - $32,870, so it's $1,075 cheaper, too, which places it in good stead against rivals like the Nissan Rogue Sport and Kia Niro and setting it aside from the Chevrolet Trax with which it shares underpinnings.

2017 Buick Encore Changes: What’s the difference vs 2016 Encore?

For the MY 2017 Encore, Buick has updated both the exterior and interior design substantially. Ahead of the A-pillar, the sheet metal has been redesigned to feature a new winged grille design, new hood, and new fenders. The front fascia also features LED daytime running lights and new headlights with full LEDs on higher trim lines. There are newly styled 18-inch alloy wheels, body-color side mirrors, chrome exhaust tips, and new LED taillights as well. Three new colors are available for 2017, with Ebony Twilight Metallic, White Frost Metallic, and Black Cherry Metallic added to the options list.

The interior has also been redesigned with a cockpit-style design and more premium materials, along with chrome accents and contrast stitching. The instrument panel features a newly designed gauge cluster and a 4.2-inch color driver display. The center stack has been redesigned too, and the IntelliLink infotainment system is now an eight-inch touchscreen with available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Push-button start is also new, along with keyless entry and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

Pros and Cons

  • New interior design is less cluttered
  • IntelliLink infotainment system now touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality now equipped
  • Refined ride with great noise insulation at speed
  • Great fuel economy
  • Poor performance from both 1.4-liter engines
  • Lack of steering feel
  • Lacks driver engagement
  • Styling doesn't quite live up to Avenir Concept
  • Top trim price rivals bigger, more luxurious crossovers

Encore Exterior

The 2017 refresh of the Encore has been an extensive one for the exterior design. There's a new look up front, with the Waterfall grille now replaced by a more contemporary grille with two wings flanking the Buick Tri-Shield logo. New headlights feature double L-shaped LED daytime running lights with full LED functionality available on higher trims. The clamshell hood is also redesigned, and the fenders give the 2017 Encore a wider stance than before helping it look more aggressive. 18-inch five-spoke Midnight Silver aluminum wheels are new for 2017 and fill the arches well. Black cladding can be found around the front fascia and the wheel arches, giving the Encore the impression of offroad capability. The rear bumper is decked with black cladding and a silver crash plate, with a new chromed oval exhaust pipe on the right-hand side. The rear hasn't received an extensive redesign, but new LED taillights are redesigned for 2017, flanking the large tailgate.

2017 Buick Encore Front View
2017 Buick Encore Front Angle View
2017 Buick Encore Front Angle View
See All 2017 Buick Encore Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Encore's proportions remain the same as before, though, and from the rear, the Encore still looks broad at the base and narrow at the top - emphasized by a relatively tall ride height compared to other hatch-based crossovers in the segment. It measures 168.4 inches long, 65.3 inches high, and 69.9 inches wide. It rides 6.2 inches from the ground and with a wheelbase measuring 100.6 inches. FWD trims carry a curb weight of 3,237 lbs which is increased by 121 lbs when swopped out for the optional AWD system.

Exterior Colors

Up to nine exterior paint colors are available for the 2017 Buick Encore, with limited availability for the 1SV trim only. Options available across the lineup include Summit White, Coastal Blue Metallic, and the new for 2017, Ebony Twilight Metallic. Graphite Gray Metallic, Quicksilver Metallic, River Rock Metallic, White Frost Tricoat, and new White Frost Metallic and Black Cherry Metallic options are available for all but the 1SV trim.

Encore Performance

The Buick Encore is not a fast car and neither of its powertrains is particularly spirited. The fastest setup is the dialed-up 153 hp four-pot motor and FWD system, accelerating the Encore from 0-60 mph in class-average 8.8 seconds. Equipping the AWD system slows things down slightly, with acceleration dropping to around 9.1 seconds. In FWD guise, the 138 hp base engine gets it to the mark in 9.8 seconds, 10.3 seconds in AWD guise. The Honda HR-V is faster to the mark by about a second. The added weight of the AWD system has a clear effect on the Encore's acceleration performance, but the added all-weather capabilities are a considerable benefit, especially considering the Encore's prerogative as a daily commuter and the furthermost thing from a sports car. Most manufacturers offer both FWD and AWD variants within this segment.

2017 Buick Encore Front View Driving
2017 Buick Encore Rear View Driving
2017 Buick Encore Side View Driving

Engine and Transmission

Just like the pre-facelift Buick Encore, the 2017 model carries over the same engine and drivetrain options as before. A base 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with multi-port injection develops 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. On Sport Touring, Preferred, and Premium trims, a direct injection motor, also a 1.4-liter turbo, develops more power with 153 hp on tap and 177 lb-ft available. Irrespective of which engine you opt for, there's just one gearbox available for the Encore, with a six-speed automatic remaining on duty. All models by default drive the front wheels, with all-wheel drive available as an option on most trims.

The base motor is highly disappointing, not just in outputs but in the way it drives. Despite being turbocharged there's a distinct lack of pulling power with the 1.4T unable to really effect a strong pull-off or overtaking maneuver. The upgraded engine offers more grunt, with a broader spread of torque also making it more usable, but it's really nothing to set your hair alight and the performance ranks as one of the Encore's weaker points, regardless of the engine choice equipped. There is, however, praise for the six-speed automatic gearbox, which does effectively manage the torque, shifting promptly and responding to inputs well. It also shifts smoothly, adding to the extensive levels of comfort the Encore provides.

  • Engines
    1.4-liter Turbo, 1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Buick Encore rides tall - taller than hatchback-based crossovers like the Mazda CX-3 - and as a result, it feels like there is pronounced body roll around corners. However, the Encore is actually highly composed, even if it isn't the kind of crossover you'll be throwing around corners. It wouldn't give you much joy to do so, either, as the Buick Encore is a vehicle devoid of much driver enjoyment and involvement. The steering is light and direct and responds well to inputs, but it offers minimal genuine feedback.

Likewise, the suspension doesn't really communicate much through to the driver. It filters small bumps and changes in camber out of the drive completely and does a superb job of ironing out larger bumps too. It isolates the occupants from the road with impeccable damping at any speed and on any surface, even mild dirt roads. Despite the comfort levels, it's not a particularly wallowy ride, showing utmost composure at any sane speed. At low speeds, the Encore is highly maneuverable and the commanding view and direct steering make maneuvering tight spots a breeze.

The Encore's party trick is the refinement of its ride and the noise insulation. Noise-canceling speakers and loads of sound deadening do a fine job of keeping wind and road noise out of the cabin, which only becomes truly apparent when you reach highway speeds in near silence. Between the insulation, uncommunicative steering, soft, cosseting suspension, and the smooth automatic gearbox, the Encore completely isolates occupants from the drive.

Encore Gas Mileage

The direct injection motor, in addition to being more powerful, is also more economical, partially due to the standard automatic stop-start functionality equipped. With the Encore in FWD guise, the more powerful motor achieves EPA estimated consumption estimates of 27/33/30 mpg city/highway/combined. The AWD system drops those figures to 26/31/28 mpg. The default 1.4T engine returns 25/33/29 mpg when driven by the front-wheels, 24/30/27 mpg when driven by all four. With its 14-gallon gas tank full, a FWD Encore with the 158 hp engine offers a range of 420 miles before requiring a refuel.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 25/33 mpg
* 2017 Buick Encore Base FWD

Encore Interior

The Encore's cabin is an upmarket affair with high-level materials, soft-touch finishes, and an updated design lending an air of quality and luxury to the cabin - but there are still numerous buttons on the center stack that hint at the Encore's true age when compared to newer rivals. Six-way power adjustment on the driver's seat is standard across all trims, with the same only equipped to the front passenger seat on higher trims. The seats themselves are comfortably cushioned and are positioned favorably high for a commanding view of the road. All seats are spacious and the rear seats feature a center armrest that adds to rear passenger comfort. The improved layout of the center stack controls is a highlight for the 2017 Encore and the updated eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with the IntelliLink user-interface, even more of one.

2017 Buick Encore Dashboard
2017 Buick Encore Steering Wheel Detail
2017 Buick Encore Start/Stop Button
See All 2017 Buick Encore Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Five occupants can fit inside the updated 2017 Buick Encore, though the rear seats are a little cramped, with legroom ideally suited to children and teenagers rather than adults who may find quarters a little cramped. Front occupants are otherwise treated to vast amounts of headroom and ample legroom too. Ingress and egress are easy thanks to the tall door openings and an upright seating position, which is comfortable and provides impressive visibility. Standard cloth upholstered seats are comfortable and positioned for great forward visibility, with standard power adjustment on the driver's seat and optional passenger adjustment found on higher trims. Leather upholstery is also available, with accompanying heated seats and a heated steering wheel found on the Essence model.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Base model Buick Encores feature cloth upholstery, Ebony in color with leatherette inserts. With the upgrade to Preferred trim, the color palette expands, including Shale cloth with matching leatherette trim. The same trimmings are available on the Sport Touring model and Preferred II. However, from the Essence trim line upwards buyers are granted access to leather upholstery, which also accompanies heated seats and a heated steering wheel. The leather upholstery is available in three shades, with a color palette comprising Ebony, Shale, and Brandy. These three color choices are the same for the range-topping Premium model.

Encore Trunk and Cargo Space

The Buick Encore is a small crossover that doesn't offer huge amounts of cargo volume. But at 18.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats, there's still comfortable enough space for six large grocery bags. The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 split to enlarge storage capacity to a total volume of 48.3 cubic feet. There's a little more storage available too, as the front passenger backrest folds flat for the through-loading of longer items into the cabin. The space available is larger than some premium rivals, such as the BMW X1, but falls well short of the Honda HR-V which is a master of practicality.

The rest of the cabin has a wealth of small and large storage binnacles, with as many as eight cup- and bottle holders, including one in each door, two in the center console and two in the rear center armrest. Deep door pockets and seatback pockets give extra space, while four storage bins in the dash, a central one beneath the front armrest, and a two-tier glove box add more practicality. Beneath the cargo floor, there are smaller storage holes alongside the spare tire.

2017 Buick Encore Trunk Space
2017 Buick Encore Top View
2017 Buick Encore Rear View

Encore Infotainment and Features

Features

The Encore offers many features even with the base 1SV. Keyless entry gets you in and push-button start gets you going, from there, standard features include a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, manually tilt/telescoping steering column, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, single-zone manual climate control, and cruise control. The Preferred only throws in a retractable cargo cover and front and rear color-keyed mats. The Sport Touring boasts remote vehicle start, fog lamps, and the only rear integrated spoiler of the lineup. Dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a 120-volt power outlet extend the features list of the Preferred II. With a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, driver-seat memory functions, and six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, the Essence offers greater luxury. The Premium adds to the list with only rain-sensing wipers and a rear cargo net and carpeted mat, however, is extensively outfitted with additional driver assists. Standard across the lineup is an integrated rearview camera, the Preferred II trim and upward hold rear cross-traffic alert and side blind zone alert as standard, optional for the Preferred and Sport Touring. The Premium adds to those with front and rear park assist, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

Infotainment

An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is new for the 2017 facelift and is standard from the base model Encore up. It features full Bluetooth connectivity, USB connectivity, an auxiliary input jack, and boasts SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that's standard across the range. Base models come equipped with six-speakers, but higher trims avail themselves to an optional seven-speaker Bose stereo system which is standard on the Premium model. The IntelliLink system is one of the best on the market and the touchscreen responds deftly to inputs with smooth graphics and rapid processing.

Encore Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power gives the 2017 Buick Encore a predicted reliability score of 3.5 out of five, which is marginally better than the industry average. Nevertheless, it loses some integrity mainly due to two recent recalls pertaining to the same issue where a control module left the factory in test mode and as a result, the seatbelt pre-tensioners and front airbags don't deploy in the event of an accident. The engine and rest of the mechanical aspects have been tried and tested since the debut in 2013, and with the engines being used widely in other GM products, it bodes well for their reliability. Buick covers the Encore with two warranties, a general warranty for four-years/50,000-miles and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Encore Safety

The IIHS awarded the 2017 Buick Encore best available scores of Good on almost all safety tests, with Acceptable ratings for the Structure and Safety Cage as well as the LATCH anchor's ease of access. The NHTSA gave the Encore an overall score of five out of five stars, with the lowest score of four achieved in the rollover test.

Key Safety Features

Loads of safety features are available in the Buick Encore, but the bulk of them, and indeed the most important ones, are only available on a very expensive top of the range Premium trim. All Encore models come with ABS brakes, EBD and brake assist, along with the full suite of airbags. All trims also feature a reverse camera as standard kit, though rear park sensors are only available higher up the trim ladder. Optional blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available midway through the Encore's trim offerings, while the Premium model comes fully equipped with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Verdict: Is the 2017 Buick Encore a good SUV?

It's a great pity the best safety features are saved only for the top-tier Premium trim, as it's price pushes it into the category of a larger, more premium vehicle, and safety should be more widely available. But that aside, the Buick Encore is, as it has been since 2013, a solid luxury proposition in the subcompact crossover segment. We recommend the Encore in Essence trim with the more powerful engine upgrade, but that said, we only recommend it for those who want an appliance to get from A to B. If an involving drive is what you're after, you'd be better off looking at something else, perhaps the Mazda CX-3 which offers a more engaging driving experience.

What's the Price of the 2017 Buick Encore?

The refreshed Buick Encore is priced in the market with a lineup starting MSRP of $22,990 for the 1SV. Moving into the mid-tier trims sees a sticker price of $24,365 for the Preferred, $25,565 for the Sport Touring, and $26, 865 for the Preferred II. At the upper echelons of the lineup is the Encore Essence, priced at $29,065, and at the pinnacle of the lineup is the Premium, slapped with a sticker price of $30,465. An AWD configuration will set one back $1,500 and optioning in the more potent engine option another $905. All prices are excluding tax, registration, and licensing fee, as well as Buick's destination charge of $895.

2017 Buick Encore Models

Buick sells the refreshed 2017 Encore in six trim lines, the 1SV, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence, and Premium. All trims are equipped with a 138 hp 1.4-liter turbo inline-four and a front-wheel-drivetrain. A 153 hp variation of the same engine is optional from the Sport Touring trim up and an all-wheel-drivetrain from the Preferred trim up.

The 1SV is well equipped, offering cloth upholstery, power adjustment for the driver's seat, an eight-inch IntelliLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, a rearview camera, a Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless entry, and push-button start.

The Preferred trim takes the base model and adds accessories like floor mats, but also allows for the Encore to be upgraded to all-wheel drive, making it the ideal 'base' model in colder climates.

Sport Touring is next up, and allows for a choice between front and all-wheel drive and also gives the buyer the option of upgrading to the more potent 153 hp motor - which is recommended. The Sport Touring trim also adds front fog lights and remote start capability. Preferred II is once again an add-on, but this time for Sport Touring models, equipping dual-zone climate control as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Leather-appointed upholstery is found in the Essence trim, which also adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, power adjustment for the front passenger, and memory function for the driver's seat.

The top of the range Encore is the Premium, which includes leather upholstery, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, and is the only trim to offer forward collision warning, lane departure warning, parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$22,990
Preferred
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,365
Sport Touring
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,565
Preferred II
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,865
Essence
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$29,065
See All 2017 Buick Encore Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The 2017 Buick Encore doesn't feature many available packages or options as most are built-in depending on the trim line you choose. A few minor packages equip all-weather floor mats and similar extras. A Bose stereo system with seven-speakers is standard on the Premium model, but available on lower trims as an option, as is blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which are worthwhile additions if you're not opting for the expensive Premium model.

What Buick Encore Model Should I Buy?

With the Encore Essence's comprehensive inclusion of standard features and with its availability of the optional 158 hp engine and AWD system, we'd call it out as the smartest pick of the lot. That is of course with those two options taken advantage of. Above the lower-level trim options, the Essence offers a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, and leather-appointed upholstery. It also has access to the optional eight-speaker Bose audio system as well as an Experience Buick Package which comprises navigation and a power tilt/sliding moonroof amongst other things, both of which we suggest including.

2017 Buick Encore Comparisons

2017 Buick Encore
2017 Buick Encore

2017 Buick Encore vs Buick Envision

The Buick Envision is plus-minus $10,000 more than the Encore at the base level but is a more premium offering and sits in a larger segment than the Encore. There are both naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines available within the Envision lineup, both more powerful than the Encore's. They are, however, moderately less economical than the Encore's as a result of the Envision's larger size. The Envision is heavily outfitted with features overall as well as with luxury-focused trim elements from the base level trim onward. Moving up the trim ladder compounds on the luxury aspect of the Envision even further. It is also rated for towing with a maximum tow capacity of 1,500 lbs, which with its 26.9 cubic feet of trunk space make it far more practical than the Encore. Deciding between which Buick to opt for comes down to two things; pricing and practicality. As the two models' pricing points represent their relative value quite accurately, the decision comes down to how much the buyer is willing to spend. In terms of practicality, however, the Envision is the no brainer.

See Buick Envision Review

2017 Buick Encore vs Honda HR-V

Although the Encore is technically a premium product courtesy of the Buick badge, it has the humble bones of the Chevrolet Trax; some premium finishes can't hide this. Where this starts to show is in comparison with a product like the Honda HR-V. Despite being $3,000 cheaper in base guise, the HR-V feels more premium in general, with the plastic panels feeling of a higher quality. The HR-V is more enjoyable to drive, too, providing more communication and enjoyment than the Buick. It's more spacious, boasts a greater cargo volume, and even boasts comparable gas mileage estimates. It may be lacking in the infotainment stakes and ultimate luxury features, but with several grand in savings, the value for money aspect is impossible to consider. That aside, the HR-V is comprehensively better than the Encore.

See Honda HR-V Review

Buick Encore Popular Comparisons

2017 Buick Encore Video Review