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2017 Buick Encore Essence AWD (used car review)


regfootball

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previous review of a 2013 Encore by me here

DRIVEN

2017 Buick Encore Essence AWD Leather 1.4t  (about 7k miles)

HIGHS

Still has distinct and snazzy styling.

Interior updates made a nice interior even nicer, despite random cheaper plastics.

retains the popular crossover friendly seat height and step in.

Still a good view all around.  No cabin claustrophobia here.

Still greatly manueverable and parkable.

Still a very good amount of room inside in the passenger compartment (GM does not typically package interior space real effectively for every vehicle)

Reasonably quite inside, thanks to Quiet Tuning.  Decently quiet while cruising.

Driver's seat felt great to this big bod and the armrest was comfy.  The seats in my Malibu suck so these were a treat.  Overall for a crossover nice driving position.

Rear accommodations surprisingly effective too.

Just enough powertrain to get by?  Some may sign off on that statement (let's debate that below....)

LOWS

From 2013.... "This base 138hp 1.4 is not the right engine....it's adequate for a bare minimum".....  Sometimes it is smooth and other times it exposes itself as economy.  

Powertrain lacks some smoothness AT TIMES and lets a little too much noise and vibration into the cabin, mostly while stopped at the stoplight.

I would enjoy 2 extra inches of girth.  Just sayin......

The climate control buttons were a bit small and cramped and seem like they would take a bit of study to get used to using.

Memory seat on driver's side.  But no power recline.  That is equally as stupid as the heated steering wheel without heated seats on the Regal Sportback Preferred II.

2013 compliant again, ..."Why can't we have a Chevy equivalent? This would sell 100k units a year easy."  WAS I RIGHT?????

2013 comment again, ... "At this price, the lower end Escapes look really good."  And now there is way more competitors as well.

SUMMARY

Below is my summary from the 2013 review I did.....

I have to compliment GM, the ATS i drove last week and this Encore, both very good vehicles through and through. Both a bit shy on grunt but still despite that very satisfying and well focused vehicles. The Encore is tapping basically a new segment, one that has huge potential. In my short sales experience, I found out how many people wanted a small crossover type vehicle. They wanted something smaller, easy to drive and park, something they could see out of easily and sit up high and see the road....but not something so huge they felt out of control or intimidated. Something that was easy to get in and out of, and something that they could occasionally fold the seat down in the back and carry a big box or two.

No one's really tried too hard at doing that yet in this size. But the market is there and this really is about as close to hitting the bullseye as you can get. This is sort of the template for this kind of vehicle in my mind. The only thing GM has missed the boat on initially with this vehicle is lack of engine spunk, and some lack of driving feel and excitement. My only other reservation is the price. As good as the Encore is at a basic level, it's just pricey IMO. 31 grand and still no AWD....2-3 grand too high I think. Until they up the power and make it a little more interesting to drive.

Despite marketing this vehicle to younger folks, I think this vehicle might acquire the rep of a geriatric's ride. Maybe that's ok....but I do see more than a handful of old timers driving Veranos too. Maybe that means Buick is attracting new fans in addition to keeping some of it's old ones.

Functionally everyday, the lack of power is probably the only thing most of the buyers of this vehicle will have remorse about after a purchase. A bit of finessing of some NVH and powertrain and keeping an eye on the price / value relationship, and managing sales volume and market pricing will be key for this vehicle. I'd be rushing a 1.6t or 1.8t to this thing pronto. Even a diesel might do the trick in this thing.

I am pretty tempted to give it an A for what they did do on this thing. But when i consider the slightly ambitious pricing and all the alternatives out there I stick on a B+. The higher price will limit the volume of sales to those who really are looking for a premium crossover in a smaller package. Me, I'd try to stick to a more basic Escape or Outlander Sport and save a bunch of dough. The Buick does feel more premium though, that is for sure.

The underlying issue is why the Trax is not hitting the market. GM really should not be excused of that question.

How'd I do before?  ^^^^^

What is surprising to me is that despite all the new competition, the Encore still seems to be to be a desirable type of vehicle; to me it is still an attractive entry.  However, despite the recent styling and interior tweaks (both extremely successful and attractive) the powertrain department should have received a bit more attention.  I say this full well knowing there is another upgraded 1.4t available, which i have not driven.  I guess I would counter by saying perhaps they should have used the 1.5t from the GMC Terrain and Equinox as the optional motor.  So perhaps I will test drive another Encore with the upgraded 1.4.  I think a little more cabin width / luxury and stronger and smoother powertrain are really the only things apart from fixing the incentively padded pricing that Buick could tend to and reap a benefit from.  And so for the next version of this vehicle which may arrive in a year or two, if they can simply keep the things that make this vehicle a success and just improve on those things (and even possibly a slightly nicer cabin), I still see this as a viable entry for the Buick showroom.  I drove an Envision for the first time right before this, and I can say honestly they are two different vehicles and each is desirable in its own way.  So I wish to see Buick improve the Encore, and I believe it will still be a huge part of Buick continuing on into the future.  If they just make the right improvements.

 

Edited by regfootball
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