The 2021 Buick Encore remains part of the first generation that was introduced to the US market all the way back in 2013. That's a really long time ago and while the compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV) has received a significant facelift and some minor changes here and there, its age has definitely caught up to it. Its 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is evidence of this, providing a mere 138 horsepower to the Encore's standard front-wheel drivetrain or optional all-wheel drivetrain.
Nevertheless, the Encore CUV is still a genuine semi-premium cruiser that delivers a tranquil ride to its driver and passengers in a reasonably commodious cabin. But with myriad dynamite SUVs and crossovers within the all-popular classification, including the Kia Soul, Honda CR-V, and even the Encore's closest cousin, the Chevrolet Trax, is this enough to keep the Encore relevant?
For the 2021 model year, the Buick Encore CUV gains two new exterior colors called Dark Moon Blue Metallic and Cinnabar Metallic. The bigger news is that in addition to the Safety Package ($495), which adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, one can now also add the Safety Package 2 on top of this for an additional $695. This all-new package adds lane departure warning, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, and parking sensors front and rear. However, the top-tier Sport Touring and Essence have been dropped from the model lineup. The new colors and safety features above can only be specified on the now-top-tier Preferred trim.
See trim levels and configurations:
The turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4 gas motor in the 2021 Buick Encore produces just 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, which is ceded through a 6-speed automatic transmission to either the front wheels or all four. Acceleration power is flat and responses unrefined, and the Encore's lackadaisical transmission only makes things worse. Whether pulling away from a standstill or getting up to speed on the highway, the Encore's powertrain always feels feeble and sluggish and not up to the task of handling the Encore's own weight. There's no surprise it has no official towing capacity. On the plus side, the low displacement means it achieves relatively good fuel economy.
When the Encore first entered the market, it was undoubtedly an appealing, upmarket alternative to other small 5-door CUVs like the Chevrolet Trax, but it has since fallen behind even some of the most affordable newer offerings. With the 2021 Encore relegated to the now-outdated, low-hp, turbo-four engine and with its top-spec trims having been deleted from the lineup, it's just a dull-performing CUV with a second-rate cabin impression and very few modern features. Yes, it does remain notably pleasant on the road and its cabin is spacious, but at the 2021 Buick Encore CUV's price of $23,200, there are now many equally or more refined and commodious CUVs to buy that also offer better performance and plenty more value for the money. In review, the 2021 Buick Encore just doesn't make the cut against the myriad exceptional vehicles in the segment, and the reasons are too obvious to disregard. Buick needs to either completely overhaul the Encore or drop it altogether. Until then, it'll remain a tough car to recommend.
For 2021, there are just two Buick Encore models to choose from - the entry-level Encore, which is sold only in Summit White and without any options, and the Preferred, which is given access to more colors and the lineup's optional packages. The Preferred is, therefore, the model to go for if you're set on purchasing the 2021 Encore. We recommend adding both the Safety Package 1 for blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and the Safety Package 2 for the lane departure warning, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, and front and rear parking sensors.
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