2018 Buick Encore

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2018 Buick Encore Review

by Gabe Beita Kiser

The subcompact crossover segment is booming, with every major brand presenting at least one offer to tempt buyers with. Buick's in on the party too, with the premium brand offering the Chevrolet Trax-based Encore. But unlike the Trax, the Encore moves upmarket and offers an impressive list of equipment and safety features to tempt buyers that might be looking at offerings from other premium monikers. Priced from $22,900, a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine offers two different states of tune, the base model producing 138 horsepower and the more potent of the pair producing 153 hp. Buick offers six different trims in the lineup to provide numerous alternatives to the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona, and on the more expensive side of things, the Mini Countryman.

Read in this review:

7.9
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2018 Buick Encore Changes: ๐Ÿš™Whatโ€™s the difference vs 2017 Encore?

There have been no major updates for the 2018 Buick Encore, with only a couple of minor product adjustments made. River Rock Metallic is no longer available as an exterior color, though Coppertino Metallic has been added in its place. Painted and custom-molded splash guards are now available, and Buick has added an ionizing air cleaner and capless fuel fill to the mix.

Pros and Cons

  • Exceptional ride quality on poor surfaces
  • Good noise insulation at highway speeds
  • Classy interior with a great infotainment system
  • Impressive list of safety features available
  • Good economy from low displacement, turbo engines
  • Underpowered base engine
  • Not enough cargo room compared to rivals
  • Price of some trims places it against competition in a higher segment
  • Devoid of driver enjoyment
  • Cramped rear seats

Best Deals on 2018 Buick Encore

2018 Buick Encore Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$22,990
Preferred
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,400
Sport Touring
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,600
Preferred II
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,900
Essence
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$29,100
See All 2018 Buick Encore Trims and Specs

2018 Encore Exterior

2018 Buick Encore Front View Buick
2018 Buick Encore Driving Back View Buick
2018 Buick Encore Forward Vision Buick
See All 2018 Buick Encore Exterior Photos

Dimensions

  • Length 168.4 in
  • Wheelbase 100.6 in
  • Height 65.3 in
  • Max Width 69.9 in
  • Front Width 60.6 in
  • Rear Width 60.6 in
  • Curb Weight 3,237.0 lbs

2018 Encore Performance

2018 Buick Encore Driving Front Angle Buick
2018 Buick Encore Top View Buick
2018 Buick Encore Exhaust Buick

Engine and Transmission

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

Though the Buick Encore is one of the oldest subcompact crossovers in the segment, it's still surprisingly good to drive. While certain competitors cut costs on insulation, the Buick offers truly premium insulation from the world outside. Key to this is the suspension that, while soft, is capable of ironing out both large and small bumps in the road surface and provides ample handling ability. On all surfaces, the Encore turns rough roads into smooth sailing with impeccable ability to filter out any imperfection thrown its way. It maintains this composure at all speeds, but it's only when you reach highway speeds that you realize just how composed the Encore is. Even at speed, wind and road noise seem just about non-existent as the Encore cossets you in silence and comfort โ€“ largely due to the active noise cancellation.

Of course, the comfort-bias of the suspension has its flaws, key to which being it's no hot-hatch in the handling stakes. While it maintains extreme composure, the tall ride of the Encore means there is a fair amount of body lean when cornering. Pair this with a steering setup not exactly oozing feedback, and the Encore is what we'd place firmly in the "not a driver's car" section of the market. In fact, the steering is kind of dead as well. It steers directly enough and responds well to inputs, but there's zero feedback from the front wheels, and when combined with the complete separation from the road due to the impressive insulation, the Buick Encore is devoid of all driver feel and enjoyment, making it the automotive equivalent of a sensory deprivation tank.

2018 Encore Interior

2018 Buick Encore Central Control Panel Buick
2018 Buick Encore Steering Wheel Detail Buick
2018 Buick Encore Start/Stop Button Buick
See All 2018 Buick Encore Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.8 in
  • Front Head Room 39.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 35.8 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.8 in

2018 Encore Trunk and Cargo Space

2018 Buick Encore Trunk Space Buick
2018 Buick Encore Sunroof Buick
2018 Buick Encore View Out Back Buick

2018 Encore Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Corrosion:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 24,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    2 Visits \ 

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: ๐ŸIs the 2018 Buick Encore a good SUV?

The Buick Encore is not a driver's car, but if it's supreme comfort and a long list of features you're looking for, then it's a superb vehicle. The comfort bias and ability to separate occupants from the goings-on outside the cabin give the Encore the unique ability to see you arrive at your destination even more relaxed than when you set off, which lends true credence to the premium badge on its nose. While some trim elements might not exude a truly premium feel the overall feel is one of class and quality, and the added reliability is a bonus. Neither of the two available engines is particularly potent, but the $895 premium for the more powerful engine is worth the extra investment, if not for the extra power, then for the extra economy. The Encore might be pricier than some of its rivals, but after six years on the market, it's proven to be one of the best subcompact crossovers money can buy. However, if you are price conscious, the Mazda CX-3 is just as comfortable, just as classy, but is on offer for less and could well be a fine alternative.

2018 Buick Encore Comparisons

Chevrolet Trax
Honda CR-V Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Buick Encore155 hp24/32 mpg$26,100
Chevrolet Trax 155 hp24/32 mpg$21,700
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$26,800
Honda HR-V 141 hp28/34 mpg$21,870

2018 Buick Encore vs Chevrolet Trax

The Chevrolet Trax is, in fact, almost identical to the Encore, sharing underpinnings and much of the Buick's design. But it's been positioned within the market as a slightly more affordable option. It is equipped with the same base powertrain but is without the dialed-up 153 hp engine option. Thus, the Trax only offers the weak acceleration and menial economy estimates of the base engine along with its lackluster mid-range power delivery. As is expected with the budget-friendly Trax, luxury-focused features are fewer than in the Encore, but its appeal is not utterly lost as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are still there. Both models offer the same in terms of practicality and safety, however, the Encore does receive access to many more optional driver-assists. Even though the Trax is stuck with the menial 1.4-liter turbo engine, it's far better priced and is still available with many of the luxurious options found in the Encore. From a pure value for money perspective, the Trax is better, but the more powerful engine option available for the Encore trims is a significant consideration as it mitigates many of the default engine's drawbacks. Ultimately, the Trax is a bargain buy, the Encore, a more premium package with fewer drawbacks but at a higher price.

See Chevrolet Trax Review

2018 Buick Encore vs Honda CR-V

The Encore's luxurious features, high price, and abundance of space mean it begins to rival those in a higher segment. But if you're going to tackle compact offerings, you're going to come up against the Honda CR-V. It's around only a $1,000 more than the Encore at the base level and is equipped with a more robust 1.5-liter turbo inline-four engine with an output of 190 hp. Not only is the CR-V faster than the Encore in terms of acceleration, but also more economical with 27/33/29 mpg offered from the base engine. The CR-V also offers greater levels of safety than the Encore, having received a Top Safety Pick+ allocation from the IIHS. And with a towing capacity of 1,500 lbs and a trunk capacity of 39.9 cubic feet, the CR-V is also a far more practical option. To cut to the chase a little, the only aspects in which the Encore really does do better is in its infotainment system and luxurious finishes; where the Encore includes full functionality and screen size from the base trim upward. Contrarily, the CR-V's best system - which even then isn't particularly user-friendly - is only found on the upper-tier trims. It is clear that the Honda CR-V is the better option, in almost every regard.

See Honda CR-V Review

2018 Buick Encore vs Honda HR-V

Cheaper than the Buick from entry point to top of the range, the Honda HR-V is kitted with almost as many features at each level. It may be lacking in terms of infotainment, where the Encore truly leaves it for dead, but it boasts a wider array of safety features available lower in the ranks. Inside, the HR-V feels more premium, with the plastic touch panels feeling a little more high-class. It's vastly more spacious, too, and has more trunk space in both configurations. The Encore's turbo engines might offer more mid-range punch than the base HR-V, but the Honda is more enticing to drive. There are very few aspects in which the Encore is the better crossover, and with a higher price tag it's hard to recommend it. Buy the HR-V, you'll be far happier.

See Honda HR-V Review

2018 Buick Encore Video Review

Check out some informative Buick Encore video reviews below.

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