2017 Buick Encore

 The 2017 Buick Encore features a more sculpted design and improved technology. It has a new front-end appearance, push-button start and an 8-inch color touchscreen. Buick is confident its refresh of the Encore will keep consumers clamoring for the small SUV.

“The Buick Encore created the premium small SUV segment and remains the top choice for customers seeking premium features and dependability coupled with timeless design,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of sales, service and marketing for Buick. “In a rapidly evolving segment, the Encore continues to lead with smart, purposeful updates and a new level of technology-infused elegance and refinement.”

The Encore was first introduced by Buick in 2013 and quickly became a top performer. It was Buick’s best-selling vehicle in North America in 2015. The company reported in March that sales of the Encore were up 34 percent for the first two months of 2016, extending a year-over-year sales increase streak to 26 months.

Buick hopes to build on the Encore’s momentum with its newest model, which comes in multiple trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available.

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Exterior

Buick’s new winged grille for the 2017 Encore matches the LaCrosse sedan. It also has new front headlights and rear taillights. The changes are meant to contemporize the vehicle.

“The 2017 Encore embraces Buick’s modern design aesthetic,” said Holt Ware, the design director of Buick Exterior. “The Encore is a crossover known for its presence — the appearance is sleek, muscular and modern.”

The top trim levels of the Encore receive Buick’s new full LED headlights. They’re designed to provide efficient, clear lighting of the road ahead.

Other features include a new chrome exhaust outlet, body-color heated outside mirrors and 18-inch wheel design with the option of aluminum rims on higher trims. The additions give the new Encore a cleaner, more elegant look.

Interior

All 2017 Encore trims have a frameless 8-inch diagonal color infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The new Encore allows up to seven devices to connect to high-speed wireless internet with OnStar 4G LTE. There’s also a new 4.2-inch color driver informational display providing access to the trip odometer and fuel information.

“As a representation of modern Buick styling, the Encore’s cabin is sophisticated in look and feel, and precise in its execution,” said Liz Wetzel, design director of Buick Interiors. “The instrument panel and center stack forms are artfully sculpted, while offering an effortless interface with the infotainment technologies.”

The vehicle has room for five passengers but because it’s narrow, many say it’s difficult to fit three people comfortably in the second row.

Buick put more emphasis on material selection for the 2017 Encore. Subtle details like bright accents and contrast stitching stand out. More premium trims feature a heated steering wheel and heated seats. Two other new features for the 2017 Encore are push-button start and keyless unlock entry.

Of course, cargo space is something we can’t ignore when talking about an SUV’s interior. It remains the same with this model at 18.8 cubic feat behind the rear seats. With the back seat folded down, the space increases to just under 50 cubic feet.

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Performance

The lightest 2017 Buick Encore weighs around 3,200 pounds. That means its small engine, with available all-wheel drive, has a lot of work to do. It’s capable of going from 0 to 60mph in about nine seconds but that’s without all-wheel drive and passengers packed in.

The 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It comes in two versions. The base version churns out 138 horsepower. Higher level trims come with the more powerful version with direct injection. That version produces 153 horsepower. It also comes with an automatic stop/start feature. The feature helps save fuel by automatically shutting off the engine when the car comes to a stop. The engine restarts on its own when you take your foot off the brake.

When it comes to fuel economy, the base Encore with front-wheel drive gets 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway. In comparison, the most powerful with all-wheel drive gets 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway.

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Safety 

All trim levels of the 2017 Buick Encore come with 10 standard airbags, a rearview camera and StabiliTrak stability enhancement.

Advanced technologies are available in more premium trims. Side Blind Zone Alert uses radar to detect vehicles in your blind zone and alerts you to them with LED-lit symbols in the outside mirrors. Lane Departure Warning is available to help keep you on track and when you’re backing out of a spot, Rear Cross Traffic Alert is able to help. It alerts you when a vehicle approaches while you’re in reverse.

Our Take

When the Encore was first introduced in 2013, it was one of the only small crossover SUVs on the market. Today, that’s a much more crowded field. So while the Encore remains popular, it definitely has stiff competition. Many say the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, for example, have it beat.

Buick is committed to doing whatever it can to remain competitive with the Encore. That’s because SUVs now account for about 60 percent of Buick’s sales. In 2007, SUVs only accounted for 34 percent of the company’s sales.

There are many things that set the Encore apart. It was named the best compact crossover SUV in Kelley Blue Book’s 2016 5-Year Cost to Own Awards. It was the third consecutive year the Encore received the accolade. The Encore’s crash-test results are also positive. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration once again gave the 2017 Encore five out of five stars for overall safety. It received five stars in all categories except for the rollover test. It was given four stars for that.

The Encore’s new styling inside and out is sure to impress some. Others, however, will likely still view the Encore as too stubby for their taste. The 2017 Encore has a starting price of $22,900.

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