2020 Buick Encore

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2020 Buick Encore Review: No Standing Ovation

Crossovers are becoming more and more popular as the years go by, and the practicality of a subcompact within the tight confines of a busy city means that every manufacturer and their grandmother are jockeying for positioning in the ever-burgeoning market. Buick's offering is the Encore, a slightly more upscale variant of sister company Chevrolet's Trax. Competing with the Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, and Kia Soul, the Encore might struggle to draw attention with its relatively high starting price of $23,200, even though its turbocharged four-cylinder delivers comparable outputs of 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. The Buick does offer more available features than most budget subcompacts, without asking for as much as more premium brands, but it still doesn't stand out as great value for money.

Read in this review:

7.9
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2020 Buick Encore Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 Encore?

The Encore enters 2020 without notable changes, aside from seeing the more powerfully tuned turbocharged four-cylinder dropped from the line-up. Beyond this, the Sport Touring gets access to a few more available options.

Pros and Cons

  • Truly compact and maneuverable
  • Attractive design
  • Comfortable and spacious interior
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • High safety and reliability ratings
  • Not as quick as rivals
  • Majority of safety features have to be tacked on
  • One of the more expensive subcompacts

Best Deals on 2020 Buick Encore

2020 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
$23,200
Preferred
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,600
Sport Touring
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,800
Essence
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$29,300
See All 2020 Buick Encore Trims and Specs

2020 Encore Exterior

2020 Buick Encore Front View Buick
2020 Buick Encore Front Angle View Buick
2020 Buick Encore Forward Vision Buick
See All 2020 Buick Encore Exterior Photos

Dimensions

  • Length 168.4 in
  • Wheelbase 100.6 in
  • Height 65.3 in
  • Max Width 70.1 in
  • Front Width 60.7 in
  • Rear Width 60.6 in
  • Curb Weight 3,237.0 lbs

2020 Encore Performance

2020 Buick Encore Driving Front Angle Buick
2020 Buick Encore Rear View Driving Buick
2020 Buick Encore Wheel Buick

Engine and Transmission

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

Playing into its strength as a city-centric subcompact, the Encore offers quick and precise steering that makes maneuvering around the hustle and bustle on the streets or snagging that surprise parking space a breeze. The steering wheel gains a little heft at higher speeds, but it never engages the driver or communicates all that well. The braking follows in the same vein, seemingly tuned for low-speed town driving, without inspiring confidence at higher speeds.

Stubby and tall, the Buick feels top-heavy on the road, but it doesn't lean too hard into turns. The suspension certainly isn't designed to zip around a hairpin turn, but the Encore can manage softer turns at relatively enjoyable speeds. Nevertheless, the SUV will never live up to the S in its acronym.

The turbocharger is a little laggy, unsurprisingly, but throttle responses are on par with others in the segment. On the plus side, the transmission is well-tuned and seldom struggles to find the right gear for the situation, even if the engine struggles to handle anything but a light climb.

2020 Encore Interior

2020 Buick Encore Central Control Panel Buick
2020 Buick Encore Steering Wheel Detail Buick
2020 Buick Encore Start/Stop Button Buick
See All 2020 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

2020 Encore Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Buick Encore Trunk Space Buick
2020 Buick Encore Rear Angle View Buick
2020 Buick Encore Side View Driving Buick

2020 Encore Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2020 Warranty Note \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

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

Verdict: Is the 2020 Buick Encore A Good SUV?

The Buick Encore markets itself as a more premium but still affordable subcompact crossover, and asks for a slightly higher investment in return. But is it really worth the extra cash?

With 138 hp and 148 lb-ft supplied by the turbocharged inline-four engine, the SUV offers no more power than any of its rivals and actually comes up short against some of the stronger optional engines that some competitors like the Hyundai Kona offers. It also doesn't deliver a particularly fun or engaging ride, which is often a selling point for smaller, more nimble crossovers.

Where the Buick does shine is in its materials and build quality. It feels a bit more premium than the run-of-the-mill subcompact, and the cabin is remarkably quiet for an affordable daily driver. But there are enough hard surfaces and cheap plastics peeking through to detract from this premium illusion. The good looks also can't detract from the fact that the Encore isn't as capacious as many rivals, with only adequate rear-seat space and underwhelming cargo capacity.

The standard feature list is pretty decent, but many rivals can be specced up to the same level at well below the cost of a comparable Encore. So, while the Buick may be a decent subcompact SUV when viewed on its own, it doesn't compare that well against similarly, or even more cheaply, priced competitors. Thus, we can't really call it a particularly good buy.

Check out other Buick Encore Styles

2020 Buick Encore Comparisons

Chevrolet Trax
Buick Enclave Buick
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Buick Encore155 hp24/32 mpg$26,100
Chevrolet Trax 155 hp24/32 mpg$21,700
Buick Enclave 310 hp18/26 mpg$44,800

2020 Buick Encore vs Chevrolet Trax

Owned by the same parent company, namely GM, the Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore are basically twins, with only slight variations in their build quality and standard features lists. Both subcompacts share the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 138 hp and 148 lb-ft, but the Chevy is the slightly more affordable of the two. It uses slightly lower grade materials and comes with fewer features, but it can be specced to rival the top-tier Encore Essence, while still managing to come out a few grand cheaper. Ultimately, the better choice here will come down to personal taste in style and your overall budget. Both are equally good, or bad, depending on your perspective.

See Chevrolet Trax Review

2020 Buick Encore vs Buick Enclave

One of the Encore's bigger siblings, the Buick Enclave occupies a much higher price bracket of between $40k - $50k. For this extra investment, you get a more potent naturally aspirated V6 engine that delivers 310 hp and 266 lb-ft to your choice of the front wheels or all four. It's not quite up to scratch with other midsize luxury SUVs, but the Enclave is a tier above the hoi polloi. The cabin is far more spacious, with three rows of seats coming standard, and the V6 is far more capable of towing the family trailer for weekend camping trips. It looks good and comes with a decent list of standard features, but, once again, the cheaper Chevrolet Traverse can match it in almost every area for less money. If you have your heart set on a Buick, then the Enclave is the more capable of the two crossovers, but only consider it if you really need the extra space and engine power.

See Buick Enclave Review
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