2013 Buick Encore

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$10,539–$19,211 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Buick Encore. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Well-packaged cabin
  • Interior materials
  • Gas mileage
  • Decent acceleration
  • Responsive all-wheel drive

The Bad

  • Handling
  • Cumbersome backseat folding
  • Modest cargo room
  • Spongy brakes
  • Complicated center controls
2013 Buick Encore exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2013 Buick Encore

  • Small crossover slots below Enclave
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Turbo four-cylinder, automatic transmission
  • Seats five
  • Available heated steering wheel

2013 Buick Encore Road Test

Kelsey Mays

If the 2013 Buick Encore is a sign of more bite-sized premium crossovers to come, car shoppers have plenty to look forward to.

The new segment includes the likes of a BMW X1 and the forthcoming Audi Q3 and Lincoln MKC. The exact parameters for this class are blurry: Base prices and features overlap with everyman crossovers like the larger Ford Escape and Volkswagen Tiguan, while well-equipped models encroach on Audi Q5 and Acura RDX territory.

That brings us back to the Encore — a premium little trucklet with bona fide luxury options. Base, Convenience, Leather and Premium trim levels are available with front- or all-wheel drive; compare them here. We drove an all-wheel-drive Encore Premium whose window sticker you can view here.

That's One Small SUV
Even in its undersized field, the Encore is the runt of the litter, with an overall length less than 169 inches. That's more than a foot shorter than Buick's compact Verano sedan. The X1 and Q3 are longer and wider; heck, the Escape is nearly 10 inches longer. The Encore bears no relation to the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain from its GM parent; in fact, it's closer to a Mini Countryman — which is about 7 inches shorter still — than either one. Unlike the Countryman, the Encore combines city-friendly length and width with an SUV-like driving position; its overall height, in fact, is just 1.1 inches short of the Escape. One editor found it a little too SUV-like, noting other cars sit more bel...

If the 2013 Buick Encore is a sign of more bite-sized premium crossovers to come, car shoppers have plenty to look forward to.

The new segment includes the likes of a BMW X1 and the forthcoming Audi Q3 and Lincoln MKC. The exact parameters for this class are blurry: Base prices and features overlap with everyman crossovers like the larger Ford Escape and Volkswagen Tiguan, while well-equipped models encroach on Audi Q5 and Acura RDX territory.

That brings us back to the Encore — a premium little trucklet with bona fide luxury options. Base, Convenience, Leather and Premium trim levels are available with front- or all-wheel drive; compare them here. We drove an all-wheel-drive Encore Premium whose window sticker you can view here.

That's One Small SUV
Even in its undersized field, the Encore is the runt of the litter, with an overall length less than 169 inches. That's more than a foot shorter than Buick's compact Verano sedan. The X1 and Q3 are longer and wider; heck, the Escape is nearly 10 inches longer. The Encore bears no relation to the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain from its GM parent; in fact, it's closer to a Mini Countryman — which is about 7 inches shorter still — than either one. Unlike the Countryman, the Encore combines city-friendly length and width with an SUV-like driving position; its overall height, in fact, is just 1.1 inches short of the Escape. One editor found it a little too SUV-like, noting other cars sit more below you than around you. The 36.7-foot turning circle also makes it more like an SUV than a small car.

As reported in our first drive of the Encore (read it here), its styling polarized onlookers. This time around, our test car's two-tone paint masked a lot of the busy lower cladding. (Unfortunately, that two-tone treatment requires Buick's $745 White Pearl Tricoat option.) Standard chrome door handles, silver roof rails and 18-inch alloy wheels add a premium touch, and Buick's waterfall grille and blue-ringed light bezels evoke the larger Enclave. The rear, by contrast, is forgettable.

All About the Inside
A key battle among entry-level premium cars is cabin quality, and the Encore delivers. Handsome graining along the dashboard and doors meets plenty of upscale touches: fabric-wrapped A-pillars, real metal gearshift trim, bits of chrome and decent-looking faux wood. In Leather and Premium editions, high-grade leather wraps the chairs, which include six-way power adjusters for both seats — not just the driver's.

Buick's standard IntelliLink system packages Bluetooth phone and audio streaming with USB/iPod integration and a few apps, like Pandora internet radio, which stream off an enabled smartphone. Too many buttons crowd the center controls, and IntelliLink's dashboard screen uses an unintuitive control knob and several flanking buttons, all with tiny labels. It's a low point.

Space, however, is a high point. With 1 cubic foot less passenger volume than a Hyundai Elantra GT, the Encore seems an unlikely candidate for ample interior space, but cabin packaging is excellent. The front seats track far enough back for tall drivers, though one editor said the center console encroached a bit much on passenger space. Maximum seat-height elevation, however, affords a high driving position with headroom to spare. (Caveat: Our test car lacked an optional moonroof, which can knock off an inch or two.) The only deprivation comes in the miniscule center console, which sits too low to accommodate an armrest. Drivers get a flip-down one; passengers get to complain.

The backseat has a high seating position with surprising legroom and headroom, plus consistent-quality cabin materials — an area where the Verano fails. The Encore's 18.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats is decent, beating the German competition, but small non-luxury SUVs like the Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 all have well more than 30 cubic feet. Folding the seats down is a laborious, outdated, multistep process, but doing so gives you 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which matches other premium compact SUVs. A standard fold-flat front passenger seat accommodates ladders or other tall objects.

Driving
We found the Encore accelerated quickly enough, with a six-speed automatic that coughs up immediate, if abrupt, two-gear downshifts to shoot passing-lane gaps. It's impressive, considering the drivetrain specs: The sole engine — a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder — makes just 138 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque. It's the motor from Chevrolet's Sonic and Cruze cars, but GM saddled it here with an SUV and available all-wheel drive, which adds weight.

Good news: The General's been on a diet. An automaker that often has some of the heaviest cars in any given segment, GM kept the Encore to just 3,190 pounds, hundreds of pounds less than the X1 and most of the Escape's ilk, and roughly matching the Q3. All-wheel drive adds just 119 pounds, which is competitive, and the hustle proves it. The X1's standard turbo four-cylinder is legitimately quick, but the Encore's drivetrain hits its torque peak at just 1,850 rpm, and the broad power band muscled our all-wheel-drive tester past slower traffic with little drama.

The EPA ratings are 25/33/28 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive models get 23/30/26 mpg, which one editor achieved (26.2 mpg combined) on a 90-minute, 40-mile commute. Not bad.

The Encore's combined ratings match the X1's and compare to non-luxury compact SUVs, but the X1 prefers premium fuel; the Encore makes full power on the cheap stuff. (As of publication, Audi has yet to finalize specs or EPA mileage on the Q3, and a production Lincoln MKC is still forthcoming.) The Encore's wind noise is low, but tire rumble takes its place. The suspension hushes out most bumps, but ride isolation feels marginal — a possible contribution of the Encore's standard 18-inch wheels and low-profile P215/55R18 tires. The steering wheel stays nicely weighted on the highway, though some might find it twitchy. Still, the Encore provides good steering feedback heading into corners and good chassis control over broken pavement. Toss the car around, though, and its pitchy body motions evoke a larger, clumsier SUV. It leans, dives and squats; the tires surrender traction too soon, and the brakes have an inch of spongy pedal travel before reporting for duty.

The Encore's optional $1,500 all-wheel drive, by contrast, shines. Our weeklong loan saw plenty of snow and ice — and in tricky partial-traction situations, the Encore wasted little time transferring power to the wheels that needed it. It evoked Subaru's excellent full-time system — something much pricier SUVs have failed to do.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The Encore has not yet been crash-tested. Standard features include 10 airbags, a backup camera and the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. Lane departure and forward collision warning systems are optional. Click here for a full list of safety features.

The Encore starts around $25,000 — far less than the X1 — and comes standard with Buick's IntelliLink system with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a six-way power driver's seat, 18-inch alloy wheels, and cloth-and-leatherette (imitation leather) seats. Dual-zone automatic climate control, real leather seats, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system and Bose audio are optional.

Pile on all the factory options, and a loaded all-wheel-drive Encore Premium runs about $34,000. A regular keyless entry remote is standard, but missing from the list is keyless access with push-button start. The X1 has it standard, and — typical of BMW — that car spirals to more than $50,000 when fully loaded.

Encore in the Market
The Encore realizes the promise of a small, premium SUV. Its drivability is equal to run-of-the-mill compact SUVs by automakers from Toyota to Ford, but cabin quality is a step above, and shoppers who want the driving height of an SUV with the parking dimensions of a compact have found their niche.

The original wave of small luxury SUVs has grown up, and now the likes of the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Acura RDX have few entry-level characteristics left. Buick hopes to sell the Encore to young professionals and empty nesters. It should appeal to both groups, and maybe to a lot more.

Send Kelsey an email  



Latest 2013 Encore Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Economical Luxury

by Cheryl from Severance, Colorado on June 6, 2018

This car gets great gas mileage and has the bells and whistles that makes it special. A very nice ride for a small car, with heated seats and a backup camera that makes parking a breeze. Read full review

(5.0)

Cute and Sexy

by Bexamillion from Richmond, VA on May 31, 2018

It's a perfect car to be stylish, but fun; it has a great sound system and comfortable ride. Take care of a Buick and it will last a long time. Great investment! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Buick Encore currently has 6 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Buick Encore Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Front

Overall evaluation
poor

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    72 months / 70,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Buick

Program Benefits

Two Factory-Backed Warranties, CPO Scheduled Maintenance Program, Vehicle Inspection & Reconditioning, 3-Day/150-Mile Vehicle Exchange Program, 24/7 Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation, OnStar & SiriusXM Satellite Radio Trial Offers, and a Carfax Vehicle History Report

  • Limited Warranty

    Two Factory-Backed Warranties

    6-Year/100,000-Mile, Powertrain Limited Warranty and a 12- Month/12,000-Miles, Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty, both with $0 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172-Point Inspection & Reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Encore received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker