If you’re looking for information on a newer Buick Encore, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Buick Encore Review
The 2016 Buick Encore is a small premium SUV that’s now entering its fourth year on the U.S. market. It’s not just small but positively tiny: At less than 170 inches in length, it’s even shorter than Chevrolet’s subcompact Sonic sedan. And most Encore models use a small 4-cylinder engine that makes less than 140 horsepower, which falls below most economy cars in muscle.
Why so small? Because many shoppers want to combine premium appointments, an SUV driving position and exceptional gas mileage — and it’s the Encore’s mission to do just that. No, it doesn’t take on BMW or Mercedes in terms of driving experience, but the Encore offers luxury-SUV appointments and cachet without asking shoppers to shell out an arm and a leg to get in the door.
What’s New for 2016?
The Encore adds a new Sport Touring model with a more powerful engine for 2016. See the 2016 Buick Encore models for sale near you
What We Like
Comfortable ride and upscale interior; exceptional price point; strong fuel economy for an SUV
What We Don’t
Might be a little too small; base-level performance could definitely use a boost, even at the expense of gas mileage
The Encore is offered with two engine options. Most models come with a 138-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which is mated to a standard 6-speed automatic and offers front- or all-wheel drive. Encore models equipped with this engine return 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with 2-wheel drive or 26 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.
New for 2016 is a Sport Touring model, which addresses our chief complaint with last year’s Encore: a lack of power. It offers the same engine but touts a more muscular 153 hp, returning slightly lower fuel economy in the process: 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 23 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
The Encore comes in five trim levels. Base-level models are dubbed simply Encore, while the remaining trims are Convenience, Leather, Sport Touring and Premium.
The Encore ($25,000) is well-equipped for a base model. Many upscale features are standard, including 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power driver’s seat and a rearview camera. Also included is Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system with a 7-in color touchscreen. Of course, the Encore also has all the features you’d expect from a car in its price range, such as remote keyless entry, cruise control and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
Drivers who upgrade to the Convenience ($27,300) get several new luxury features. They include remote vehicle starting, dual-zone automatic climate control and auto-dimming mirrors. The Encore Convenience also adds fog lamps.
The new Sport Touring ($28,300) adds the Encore’s new 153-hp engine as standard equipment, along with 18-in alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.
Next up is the Encore Leather ($29,200). Unfortunately, Leather models return to the base-level engine — but the trim adds even more premium items, including a heated steering wheel and heated front seats, a power passenger seat and a driver’s-seat memory package.
Topping the Encore range is the Premium ($30,700), which also comes with the base-level engine. In addition to standard equipment from the Leather model, it adds a Bose sound system, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear park assist, a forward-collision alert system and a lane-departure warning system.
Major Encore options include roof rails, all-wheel drive and an Experience Buick option package that adds a navigation system, chrome alloy wheels and a power sunroof.
All 2016 Buick Encore models come standard with a wide array of safety features. They include dual-front airbags, driver’s- and passenger-knee airbags, side-curtain airbags and seat-mounted side torso airbags. A rearview camera is also standard, as are 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and GM’s StabiliTrak stability control system. Available features include forward-collision alert, front and rear park assist and a lane-departure warning system.
The all-wheel-drive Encore received 5-star overall government crash-test scores, while the 2-wheel-drive model earned four stars overall. Both models earned five stars in front and side tests and four stars in rollover tests. In tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Encore generally performed well, except for a troubling Poor rating in the group’s new front small-overlap assessment — a test that has tripped up many new vehicles.
Behind the Wheel
Climbing inside the Encore, you’re immediately struck by the handsome cabin and high-quality materials. That’s particularly impressive considering the Encore’s reasonable pricing that starts below $26,000 with destination. The center stack is well designed, and the cabin even boasts a stylish appearance.
We also appreciate the Encore’s commanding driving position — especially considering its compact-car roots. More importantly, it really does feel like a Buick. That means it offers a supple ride thanks to soft, cushy suspension. No, the Encore isn’t a sports car around the corners — but we suspect most buyers would rather have the better ride.
Last year, our biggest complaint with the Encore was its acceleration: a 9.5-second 0-to-60 time just wasn’t cutting it, even considering the crossover’s excellent fuel economy — and passing power was pretty sluggish, too. This year, Buick answered our complaint by giving the Encore more power. But we still have a gripe: While the Sport Touring model’s extra power helps, we wish the powerplant wasn’t confined to just one model. It would be nice to have the features of the Leather or Premium model with the extra power from the Encore Sport Touring.
The Encore could also use some extra room in back. Currently, the crossover has a tight back seat and a fairly small cargo area — a function of its small size. Once again, we think many shoppers won’t mind, as some — especially those who rarely carry passengers or lots of equipment — will flock to the Encore specifically because of its size.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 BMW X1 — The all-new X1 functions more like a tall wagon than a crossover. That’s contrary to the high-roofed Encore, which has much more traditional SUV height. The X1 is also sportier thanks to turbocharged engines and standard rear-wheel drive. But the two models are priced — and sized — similarly.
2016 MINI Cooper Countryman — Even the tiny MINI Countryman is larger than the Encore. But the two are still competitors — especially on price, as the Countryman starts around $22,500. However, the Countryman is a better choice for drivers who want a sportier ride.
Used Acura RDX — If you like the Encore’s luxurious appointments but want more power or space, the Acura RDX is a great compact luxury crossover that offers both. Prices are higher, though, so you may want to consider a used model.
The Encore is an excellent crossover for shoppers who don’t need lightning-quick acceleration or a huge interior. In terms of choosing a trim level, we have two suggestions: If you test drive a base-level Encore and find yourself wanting more power, go with the new Sport Touring. If performance isn’t important, we’d choose a Leather or Premium model, which offer luxury-car amenities for a highly reasonable price. Find a Buick Encore for sale