2013 Buick Encore FWD / AWD Review

Dec 3rd

Buick’s new Encore sub-micro hatchback/crossover invites a lot of questions. First of all, what is it? Well, it’s an answer to a question asked by buyers in China, where Buick thrives. It shares major mechanical pieces with the Chevrolet Sonic, which might, in the eye of a bigger-is-better American public, cast a pall of cheapness over it. So why is Buick offering America a crossover built in South Korea and based on a bite-sized Chevy?

With that question, the lid on Pandora’s box flips open. Why does anything unexpected happen in the auto industry? Why did the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet ­happen? Why does the BMW 6-series Gran Coupe—a sedan version of a coupe based on another sedan—exist? We can say with certainty only that every brand is looking for new customers, Buick perhaps more desperately than others. Thus, the important question is: Will the Encore bring new buyers to Buick here in America?

The short answer: Yes. The brand has never offered anything like the Encore, and there’s much to like. It’s roomy for four, and its high seating position gives drivers a nice view of the road ahead. It can be fuel efficient, with an EPA rating of 25 mpg city/33 highway for front-wheel-drive models. (All-wheel-drive Encores are rated for a slightly less impressive 23/30 mpg.) The front-suspension struts and a torsion-beam rear axle are tuned to supply a Germanic discipline to the ride and excellent isolation from the road surface’s various failings. The electric power steering is unexpectedly proficient, being quick, weighty, and linear.

Though smooth, the Encore’s turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder makes only 138 horses. We call a 0-to-60-mph time of 9.3 seconds slow—and that’s the lighter front-drive model. We call the all-wheel-drive model’s 10-second trip to 60 mph glacial. During full-throttle acceleration, shifts seem to take as long as a Super Bowl commercial break, causing a dramatic interruption in power. Downshifts are ­agonizingly slow. There’s a rocker switch atop the shift lever for manual shifting, but most drivers would probably use it more if it tied their shoelaces together. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by JARED GALL

This review is about 2013 buick encore fwd / awd review.

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