2013 Buick Encore Review | Toronto Sun

2013 Buick Encore Review Photo
By Glen Woodcock, Toronto Sun
There’s a TV commercial for the 2013 Buick Encore I really love. And I guess a lot of other people like it too, because it’s been running now for months and months.
It’s the one where the right-sized Encore SUV is shown navigating city streets filled with dinosaurs – big ones – nimbly driving around and through their legs as they squash parked cars and knock over fire hydrants with their tails.
“The age of the oversize luxury car is about to give way to a smarter breed,” says the voiceover. That smarter breed, of course, includes Encore.
I find this commercial interesting because it was the oversize luxury car – especially monster SUVs like Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon Denali – that sustained General Motors for a long while.
But the rules they are a-changing. Fleet fuel economy numbers must, by law, improve drastically by 20xx.
So luxury cars are being downsized – luxury SUVs too. And Buick is not alone in recognizing this trend.
Encore looks good from all angles, but the severe kick up at the rear makes it almost impossible for shorter drivers (like my wife) to park, even with the rearview camera. However, the driver’s view to the front and sides is terrific.
In another happy application of GM’s global engine, the Encore’s turbocharged Ecotec 4 offers adequate performance while not burning a lot of fuel. It’s the only engine available and, coupled to GM’s universal 6-speed automatic, makes 138 hp at 4,900 rpm and 148 lb-ft. of torque at 1,850.
The electronic throttle responds well and the touring suspension helps Encore’s handling – whether dodging dinosaurs or potholes.
Although the automatic AWD system may not be built for real off-roading, it can handle all kinds of weather and road conditions and is equipped with traction control and electronic stability control.
Encore is built by GM’s South Korean division on the same platform as the Chevrolet Trax and Opel Mokka. The old Dae Woo operation is catching up to Hyundai and Kia for build quality. Encore’s attractive interior matches those in pricier GM products and has some handy storage spots, including one for a cellphone on the driver’s left.
Our tester’s cabin is black leather with dark woodgrain trim and would look even classier in one of the available lighter shades of leather/woodgrain.
Passengers sit very upright in the 60/40 split rear seats but have decent knee- and foot-room. It’s quite comfy for two back there, with cupholders in a fold-down centre armrest.
Up front, the bucket seat’s 6-way power controls are fiddly. But when you finally do get it where it fits your body there are two memory settings.
Cargo space is less than either VW Tiguan or Mercedes-Benz GLK Class. With the rear seats upright, Encore holds 533 litres. When they’re folded forward, carrying capacity increases to 1,371 litres.
In base Convenience trim, Encore pricing starts at $27,130.
Fact file:  2013 Buick Encore
Trim level: AWD Leather
Price as tested (before taxes): $35,010
Freight/PDI: $1,500
Options on test vehicle: express open sunroof, $1,100; 18-inch chrome wheels, $995; sound package, $775 (includes Bose premium audio system with amplifier, XM satellite radio)
Configuration: front engine/all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 1.4L turbocharged I4/6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 138 hp/148 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): regular (53L)
Fuel economy ratings: 8.9L/100 km city, 8.2L/100 km
Observed fuel economy: 8.3L/100 km over 455 km
Warranties: 4 years/80,000 km comprehensive; 6 years/110,000 km powertrain
Competitors: BMW X1; Jeep Cherokee; Mercedes-Benz GLK 350; VW Tiguan
Strengths: style; size; warranty
Weaknesses: poor visibility to the rear; limited cargo space