The Encore is a subcompact SUV that's a size smaller than "small" SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Based on the Chevrolet Sonic, it's meant to blend some luxury touches with a small footprint. Tall, short, and narrow, the Encore has ungainly proportions, despite some familiar Buick styling cues like a big chrome grille and portholes on the hood.
There's a lot to like about the Encore, including a quiet cabin, great maneuverability for parking, and a smooth ride. But the narrow interior can feel cramped and has a flawed driving position. Thick pillars and small rear windows block visibility, especially out the rear. And despite the Buick's luxury image, there is no power front seat recline. These demerits and others weigh down its score considerably.
The Encore's 138-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine does it no favors. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, it's often struggling. Acceleration times are slow. And there's no real payoff for having such a tiny powerplant; it only gets 23 mpg overall.
Upscale trappings, including a swanky-looking interior and an available heated steering wheel, add luxury appeal. But a well-equipped Encore Leather stickers for over $31,000, which seems like too much for what you get, given the cramped interior and lack of power. The Encore might be the perfect match for a small group of urban buyers looking for a refined SUV.