Comfortable ride and upscale interior; abundant features for the money; good fuel economy for an SUV; smaller and more maneuverable than the typical SUV
Small cargo area and back seat; pokey acceleration, even with upgraded engine; limited safety tech availability
For 2019, the Encore's trim level count has been reduced. The Preferred II and Premium have been discontinued. Fuel economy estimates are also lower this year, despite the powertrains going unchanged.
The Encore is an excellent crossover for shoppers who are really just looking for an elevated seating height, a comfy ride and a quiet premium cabin. When choosing a trim level, we would essentially go high or low. Really, the base trim is so well-equipped that the next two trims up only add token extras at a cost that doesn't make much sense. At the same time, we would also consider a loaded Essence model with the upgraded engine, as it does provide sufficient extra feature content to warrant its higher price.
The Encore comes in four trim levels. Base-level models are dubbed simply "Encore," while the remaining trims are the Preferred, Sport Touring and Essence.
The base Encore ($23,200) is well-equipped for a base model. It includes 18-inch alloy wheels, proximity entry and keyless start, a rearview camera, LED running lights, rear privacy glass, roof rails, a power driver's seat, an upholstery combination of cloth and simulated leather, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, OnStar emergency communications, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Buick's 8-in touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker sound system that includes satellite radio and a media player interface. It comes standard with white paint, and you can only add black or silver as a $395 option.
There's questionable value in the Preferred trim ($24,600), which really only adds a cargo cover and some floor mats. There are also five additional color choices, but all require an extra charge.
The Sport Touring ($25,600) gains fog lamps, remote ignition and sportier styling elements (the only trim that does). Opting for the more powerful engine brings with it single-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
It can also be equipped with a more powerful engine, which brings with it single-zone automatic climate control. The Safety package, consisting of a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, is optional.
Optional on both Preferred and Sport Touring is the Safety Package, which adds blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, plus a 120-volt power outlet.
The Encore Essence trim ($29,300) adds LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver memory settings, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery and the Safety Package items. It is the only trim level that can be equipped with the optional Safety Package II, which adds forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers and an ionizing air cleaner.
Optional on the Sport Touring and Essence trims is a 7-speaker Bose sound system (including HD Radio) and a navigation system integrated into the standard touchscreen (include dual-zone climate control in the Sport Touring).
A sunroof is optional on all but the base trim.
|Basic||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Drivetrain||6 Years/70,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||4 Years/50,000 Miles|
|Rust-Through||6 Years/Unlimited Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||6 Years/70,000 Miles|
|Maintenance||1 Year/1 Visit|
2019 Honda HR-V -- The HR-V isn't as comfortable or as quiet as the Encore, but it is more spacious, offers similar feature content and can be surprisingly luxurious inside if you select its uppermost trim level.
2019 Subaru Crosstrek -- The Crosstrek offers no-nonsense space and comfort with excellent fuel economy, despite coming standard with AWD. It's certainly not as quiet or luxurious as the Encore, but you may find it to be a more functional choice.
2019 Lincoln MKC -- The MKC is pricier than the Encore to be sure, and it's also a bit bigger, but it's one of the few small SUVs that shares Buick's emphasis on a comfortable ride and a quiet cabin. And for those seeking an American-made SUV, the MKC has that advantage over the Korean-built Encore (or Chinese-built Buick Envision). If an MKC is out of your price range, you can always seek out a used or certfied pre-owned version.