General Motors was one of the first manufacturers to jump on the small-capacity turbocharged engine bandwagon. The result was the 1.4-liter powertrain found in the Encore to this day. It used to have an output of 138 or 153 horsepower in 2020 before Buick dropped the high-output variant for 2021. The more powerful engine is now back with 155 hp and it's the only engine option.
The 155-hp and 177-lb-ft 1.4-liter turbo mill is the only remaining option. While it may have been ground-breaking back in the day, it feels unrefined and harsh compared to the more recently developed four- and even three-cylinder turbocharged engines. This engine can be paired with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The only gearbox available is a six-speed automatic, which is also a generation behind. At least it doesn't feel its age as it works its way through the gears smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. It can be slow to react in certain situations, but it's nowhere near terrible. Factor in the weight of the little crossover SUV and you end up with a relatively poor power to weight ratio, resulting in lackluster performance. It takes the Encore roughly nine seconds to do the 0-60 mph benchmark sprint, which is pretty poor when you compare it to something more modern like the Hyundai Kona, which manages the same trial in less than seven seconds with its available turbocharged engine. The Encore has no towing capacity rating.
The Buick's power output is fine for the segment. A base Hyundai Kona, for example, offers 147 hp. The 1.5-liter turbocharged triple as used in certain Mini and BMW models makes even less power, rated at 134 hp. With the 155 horsepower it has on tap, the Encore struggles a little to get up to speed in town and even more on the highway. If you want to pass slower-moving traffic, you better make sure that you have enough room to do so.
There are two main problems here, and the six-speed automatic transmission isn't one of them, even if it's not as responsive as some of the newer offerings out there. The main issue is that the power is only available high up in the rev range, so you constantly have to push the car hard to make any sort of reasonable progress. The second problem is the weight. Manufacturers have realized that having a small capacity turbocharged engine simply isn't enough - they need to cut the weight as well, which is why a more modern Kona weighs a whole large passenger less than an Encore. Unfortunately, this is an inherent problem that can only be fixed by designing an entirely new model from scratch.
|Buick Encore Trims||Buick Encore Engines||Buick Encore Horsepower||Buick Encore Transmissions||Buick Encore Drivetrains||Buick Encore MPG/MPGE|
|Preferred||1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas||155 hp @ 5600 rpm||6-Speed Automatic||AWD|
|26 MPG |
The 1.4-liter engine is starting to show its age in terms of performance, and while an engine this small will never be a gas-guzzler, it fails to achieve the economy figures of several rivals. The FWD model's gas mileage figures are rated at 24/32/27 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. The AWD model manages 23/30/26 mpg. The FWD Honda HR-V achieves 28/34/30 and 27/31/29 in the AWD specification. This is mostly due to its CVT transmission. The same is true of the Kia Soul equipped with a CVT transmission, which achieves best figures of 29/35/31. This is more proof of how the game has moved on, as CVT transmissions are quickly becoming the norm in subcompact crossovers. Even the base Mazda CX-3 with a regular automatic and a bigger 2.0-liter engine is more efficient with figures of 29/34/31 mpg.
The Encore has a 14-gallon tank, which allows for 378 miles between refills for the FWD version. As it's an older engine, the Buick still happily runs on standard unleaded.
|Buick Encore Trims||Preferred|
|Buick Encore Fuel Economy (Cty/Hwy)||23/30|