Jump to content
  • William Maley
    William Maley

    The Brief: 2015 Buick Encore Leather AWD and GMC Yukon Denali XL

    Sign in to follow this  

      GM's smallest and largest utility vehicles go under the review microscope


    I remember being at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show and being at introduction of the Buick Encore. After seeing the model introduced, I just found myself wondering why. Why do we need a subcompact crossover? Why does Buick have it and not Chevrolet? Wouldn’t it be better as a Chevrolet? Little did I or anyone realize that within a few years, the subcompact crossover would be the hot thing. It seems Buick would be a pioneer in this class.

     

    The Encore is a rebadged version of the Opel Mokka sold in Europe and somehow Buick was able to make it look a bit more premium. This is due to Buick’s designers making a number of small tweaks such as a new waterfall grille, portholes on the hood, blue tinted headlights, and a set of eighteen-inch five-spoke wheels.

     

    The same is true for the interior as Buick has added some luxury touches such as faux metal and wood trim, soft-touch materials, and blue backlighting. This particular Encore also came equipped with some handsome two-tone leather seats. Oddly, there are no power adjustments for the seats. To get that you’ll need to step up to the top Premium trim. Personally, I would like to see all Encores come with power adjustments as standard. At least all Encores get Buick’s Interlink infotainment system.

     

    Now being a subcompact crossover, you might think it is a penalty box for rear passengers and cargo. Not so in the Encore. The rear seats provide more than enough head and legroom, but getting in and out is somewhat hard due to a small rear door opening. Cargo space is decent with 18.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 48.4 cubic feet with the seats down. You can also fold the front passenger seat down to increase cargo capacity.

     

    Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. This only comes paired to a six-speed automatic. There is a choice of front or all-wheel drive, with my tester having the latter. If you are planning to stay in urban environments, the 1.4T is perfect as it provides enough squirt to get you up to speed. If your travels take you to the country or highways, then you might want to look at something else. The 1.4T runs out of steam quite fast and you’ll find your foot on the floor to try and merge into traffic or make a pass. Now Buick has a possible solution to the power problem with a new turbo 1.6 on the 2016 Encore Sport Touring. We hope to get our hands on that soon.

     

    At least Buick got the ride characteristics right on the Encore. The suspension is able to soak up bumps and provides a smooth ride. Also, the small dimensions and light steering makes the Encore very nimble in small spaces. Buick’s QuietTuning makes sure no road and wind noise enters the cabin making the model one the quietest in the class.

     

    The Buick Encore may now be overshadowed by newer models in the class. But it still is worth of a look, especially if you live in an urban area.

     

    Disclaimer: Buick Provided the Encore, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: Buick
    Model: Encore
    Trim: Leather Group AWD
    Engine: 1.4L DOHC Turbocharged Inline-Four
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 138 @ 4,900
    Torque @ RPM: 148 @ 1,850
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/30/26
    Curb Weight: 3,358 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Bupyeong, South Korea
    Base Price: $29,450
    As Tested Price: $33,620 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    White Pearl Tricoat - $995.00
    Power Moonroof - $900.00
    Bose Premium Audio - $595.00
    Buick Intellilink with 7-Inch Screen and Navigation - $495.00
    Cargo Mat - $60.00
    Cargo Net - $60.00

     

    The brief on the Yukon Denali XL is on the next page.


     

    The Cadillac Escalade has been a huge success for the company since being launched in 1999. In fact, many consider the full-size SUV to be the flagship, even with the new CT6 around the corner. But not everyone can plunk down the $72,970 required to get into the base model. So is there a good alternative to Escalade? Yes and it comes from GMC.

     

    The GMC Yukon Denali was launched a year before the Escalade, offering a number luxury appointments and features not commonly seen on full-size SUVs. Since then, the Denali has become a sub-brand and making some of GMC models feel and look like something you would get a luxury car dealer. But the Yukon has remained the crown jewel for the Denali brand.

     

    The Yukon Denali and the model seen here, the Yukon Denali XL don’t really differentiate in terms of overall design from the standard Yukon design. But it’s small details that make the Denali stand out. There is a new chrome grille, HID headlights, twenty-two inch aluminum wheels, optional retractable running boards, and a number of chrome pieces. It is subtle, but it does make a big difference.

     

    Compared to the previous-generation, the 2015 Yukon Denali XL shows a noticeable improvement in terms of design and materials. The dashboard layout has been cleaned up and controls are within easy reach for driver and passenger. Materials are a few steps above what you’ll find in the previous Denali thanks to soft-touch plastics, leather, and faux aluminum trim. I do wish GMC did a little something more for the Denali’s interior to make it stand out just a little further. Maybe real aluminum trim?

     

    At least GMC got passenger and cargo space in the Yukon Denali XL right. Sitting in the rear two rear rows isn’t a penalty as there an abundance of head and legroom. The only downside might be narrow space to get into the third-row by moving the second-row seat. Cargo space is large with 38.9 cubic feet on offer with both rear rows up. This increases to 76.7 cubic feet with the third-row down and 121.7 cubic feet with the second-row down.

     

    For power, comes with the 6.2L V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A new eight-speed automatic comes into play for this year's model. Despite the Yukon Denali XL weighing over 6,000 pounds, the larger V8 shrugs it off like it was nothing thanks to the large torque figure and automatic transmission being smart with its shifts. Now going for the larger V8 means slightly lower numbers of 14 City/24 Highway/16 Combined compared to the 5.3 V8’s economy figures of 15/22/18. Both figures represent models equipped with four-wheel drive.

     

    In terms of ride and handling, the Yukon Denali XL provides a relaxed ride with bumps and imperfections ironed out. This is very impressive when you consider my tester came equipped with the larger wheels. Thank GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system that comes standard. The system also makes a difference when cornering as the Denali shows barely any sign of body roll.

     

    The Yukon Denali XL starts at $70,220 for the base four-wheel drive model. My modestly equipped tester came in at $78,725. That might seem a bit much, but consider that a similarly equipped Cadillac Escalade ESV will cost $10,000 to $12,000 more. So if you want something close to an Escalade without a large pricetag, GMC has got you covered.

     

    Disclaimer: GMC Provided the Yukon Denali XL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: GMC
    Model: Yukon XL
    Trim: Denali
    Engine: 6.2L EcoTec V8
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5,600
    Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4,100
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 14/20/16
    Curb Weight: 6,009 lbs*
    Location of Manufacture: Arlington, Texas
    Base Price: $70,220
    As Tested Price: $78,725 (Includes $1,195 Destination Charge and $500 Open Road Package Discount)

     

    *Note: Weight corresponds to Yukon XL Denali equipped with 20-inch wheels

     

    Options:
    Denali Premium Package - $3,165.00
    Open Road Package - $2,860.00
    Twenty-Two Aluminum Wheels - $895.00
    Midnight Amethyst Metallic Paint - $495.00
    Theft-Deterrent System - $395.00

    Sign in to follow this  


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      It feels weird to be writing a review of the previous-generation Mazda3 when the new model is currently sitting out front at dealers. But I find this situation to be unique because I had the chance to explore a 2019 Mazda3 to get some first impressions while working on a review of the 2018 model. This gives me a chance to compare the two in certain aspects, along with pondering the question of whether or not the previous model is still a good buy.
      Despite the new model taking the styling up another level, the outgoing model is still a looker. From the bold front end with a large grille and slightly angled headlights, to sculpting running along the sides, the 2018 3 still stands out in the compact crowd. The older design also allows for slightly better rear headroom and a larger area of glass for improved visibility.  But the new 3 holds a significant edge over the old model when it comes to the interior. The modern design and use of high-quality materials really help boost Mazda’s ambitions of becoming something more premium. But the 2018 model I found to have a slightly easier center stack layout and more interior room. One item I didn’t get the chance to play within the 2019 Mazda3 is the infotainment system. Aside from boasting a larger screen, Mazda has also dropped the touchscreen functionality. The latter has been a big issue on some of the recent Mazda vehicles I have driven, including the 2018 3. It is difficult to figure out which parts of the screen are touch-enabled and which aren’t. The system is also beginning to show its age somewhat as the system showed some slowdown in certain areas such as connecting to my phone via Bluetooth. Under the hood of the 2018 model is either a 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder. My tester had the latter which produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. This engine can also be found under 2019 Mazda3, albeit slightly tweaked - 186 for both horsepower and torque. I find the Mazda3 to be the best application for the 2.5 engine. The lighter weight of the vehicle allows the 2.5 to provide a smooth and quick acceleration for most situations you find yourself in. However, the 2.5 feels like it is running out of breath when going above 70 mph, making passing and merging onto a highway slightly difficult. Where the 3 really shines is down a twisty road. Very few vehicles can match the sharp handling characteristics on offer. The suspension keeps the vehicle level when cornering and quickly respond to change in direction. Steering is quick and features a nice weight when turning. Ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of bumps coming inside. Some of this can be attributed to the 18-inch wheels fitted on my tester.  Should you consider a 2018 Mazda3 when the bright and shiny 2019 3 is available now? I can only give a half-answer as I haven’t driven the 2019 model yet. But having sat in one, I can see why someone would consider it. The impressive design inside and out can make you believe you’re driving something from a luxury brand. The 2018 model still has some things going for it such as having slightly more interior space, similar fuel economy figures, and dealers beginning to lower prices on them to get them out. As I am writing this (May 5th), I have seen dealers in my local drop prices by $1,000 to $3,000 on 2018 models. Right now, I would be willing to pocket the extra cash and go with a 2018 Mazda3. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: 3
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline:  Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700
      Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/35/30
      Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico
      Base Price: $24,945
      As Tested Price: $28,035 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Equipment Package - $1,600.00
      Soul Red Metallic Paint - $300.00
      Scuff Plates/Door Sill Trim Plate - $125.00
      Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00
      Cargo Mat - $75.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      It feels weird to be writing a review of the previous-generation Mazda3 when the new model is currently sitting out front at dealers. But I find this situation to be unique because I had the chance to explore a 2019 Mazda3 to get some first impressions while working on a review of the 2018 model. This gives me a chance to compare the two in certain aspects, along with pondering the question of whether or not the previous model is still a good buy.
      Despite the new model taking the styling up another level, the outgoing model is still a looker. From the bold front end with a large grille and slightly angled headlights, to sculpting running along the sides, the 2018 3 still stands out in the compact crowd. The older design also allows for slightly better rear headroom and a larger area of glass for improved visibility.  But the new 3 holds a significant edge over the old model when it comes to the interior. The modern design and use of high-quality materials really help boost Mazda’s ambitions of becoming something more premium. But the 2018 model I found to have a slightly easier center stack layout and more interior room. One item I didn’t get the chance to play within the 2019 Mazda3 is the infotainment system. Aside from boasting a larger screen, Mazda has also dropped the touchscreen functionality. The latter has been a big issue on some of the recent Mazda vehicles I have driven, including the 2018 3. It is difficult to figure out which parts of the screen are touch-enabled and which aren’t. The system is also beginning to show its age somewhat as the system showed some slowdown in certain areas such as connecting to my phone via Bluetooth. Under the hood of the 2018 model is either a 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder. My tester had the latter which produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. This engine can also be found under 2019 Mazda3, albeit slightly tweaked - 186 for both horsepower and torque. I find the Mazda3 to be the best application for the 2.5 engine. The lighter weight of the vehicle allows the 2.5 to provide a smooth and quick acceleration for most situations you find yourself in. However, the 2.5 feels like it is running out of breath when going above 70 mph, making passing and merging onto a highway slightly difficult. Where the 3 really shines is down a twisty road. Very few vehicles can match the sharp handling characteristics on offer. The suspension keeps the vehicle level when cornering and quickly respond to change in direction. Steering is quick and features a nice weight when turning. Ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of bumps coming inside. Some of this can be attributed to the 18-inch wheels fitted on my tester.  Should you consider a 2018 Mazda3 when the bright and shiny 2019 3 is available now? I can only give a half-answer as I haven’t driven the 2019 model yet. But having sat in one, I can see why someone would consider it. The impressive design inside and out can make you believe you’re driving something from a luxury brand. The 2018 model still has some things going for it such as having slightly more interior space, similar fuel economy figures, and dealers beginning to lower prices on them to get them out. As I am writing this (May 5th), I have seen dealers in my local drop prices by $1,000 to $3,000 on 2018 models. Right now, I would be willing to pocket the extra cash and go with a 2018 Mazda3. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: 3
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline:  Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700
      Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/35/30
      Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico
      Base Price: $24,945
      As Tested Price: $28,035 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Equipment Package - $1,600.00
      Soul Red Metallic Paint - $300.00
      Scuff Plates/Door Sill Trim Plate - $125.00
      Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00
      Cargo Mat - $75.00
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Buick is reportedly working on a crossover coupe to add to its lineup in the US.  This vehicle would be in addition to, rather than replace, any vehicles in the current lineup. 
      Most of Buick's recent lineup has been a rebadge of some other brand's designs, this new vehicle would be a departure from that with Buick leading the design process from the start. CarDesignNews was shown some sketches and models of future Buicks and what they saw would "turn everything you think about Buick on its ear".  It is a bold design that will shock people both inside and outside the industry.  The designs would feel familiar without using specific cues. 
      Buick also took the time to insist that Buick would not become a China-only brand even though 4 out of every 5 Buicks are sold there. The bulk of the design work takes place in Warren, Michigan, while smaller design teams work in Shanghai, Melbourne, and near Seoul. 
      As far as the name, Buick has trademarked Enspire for the U.S., so that has a strong possibility of coming to fruition. No timeline is set for the release of the new crossover, but the overhaul of the Buick look is well underway.
       

      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Buick is reportedly working on a crossover coupe to add to its lineup in the US.  This vehicle would be in addition to, rather than replace, any vehicles in the current lineup. 
      Most of Buick's recent lineup has been a rebadge of some other brand's designs, this new vehicle would be a departure from that with Buick leading the design process from the start. CarDesignNews was shown some sketches and models of future Buicks and what they saw would "turn everything you think about Buick on its ear".  It is a bold design that will shock people both inside and outside the industry.  The designs would feel familiar without using specific cues. 
      Buick also took the time to insist that Buick would not become a China-only brand even though 4 out of every 5 Buicks are sold there. The bulk of the design work takes place in Warren, Michigan, while smaller design teams work in Shanghai, Melbourne, and near Seoul. 
      As far as the name, Buick has trademarked Enspire for the U.S., so that has a strong possibility of coming to fruition. No timeline is set for the release of the new crossover, but the overhaul of the Buick look is well underway.
       
    • By Drew Dowdell
      Buick unveiled a pair of Buick Encores at the Shanghai Auto Show yesterday.  The regular Encore (below) is about the same size as the current model sold in the US and likely sits on the same Gamma II platform as the current car. 
      Additionally, Buick released a long-wheelbase version called the Encore GX (Above, Side).  This model will likely make it to the US.  Details are scant, but this likely sits on GM's new VSS-F platform.  Both are powered by an eighth-generation Ecotech (probably the 1.5T) paired either with a 9-speed hydromatic or an optional CVT. These engine promise better fuel economy and emissions.
      The Buick Encore has been Buick's best selling model for the past three years. The design of the Encores is familiar yet modernized. A large grille with winged embellishments support the center Buick badge. The sheet metal looks taught and athletic.  
      No word yet on any timeline for arrival in the US. At least one of these will make it Stateside, possibly both given hot crossover market, we could see space for both models in the US. 

       
       
       
       
       
       


      View full article
  • Social Stream

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. motorman
      motorman
      (85 years old)
  • Who's Online (See full list)

  • My Clubs

About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×
×
  • Create New...