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Buick's 2014 Encore crossover is loaded with content in a tidy package

Encore's leather interior is in class above the competition
Encore's leather interior is in class above the competition
by Nick Hromiak

It’s cute, nimble, economical, loaded with high-tech features and is a reasonably priced compact crossover.
Buick’s South Korean built 2014 Encore possesses all these traits and then some.

With its snub nose, Encore takes on a compact, but nimble look
by Nick Hromiak

The compact Encore is offered in Base, Convenience, Leather and Premium (tested) models, and in FWD and AWD.

When progressing from Base to Premium, the standard feature list also increases. At that, the Base model offers such goodies as rearview camera, heated outside mirrors, satellite radio, 18-inch wheels, six-way power driver seat, Buick’s IntelliLink with 7-inch touchscreen with Smartphone apps and much more.

The Premium model adds rain-sensing wipers, top-shelf Bose seven speaker audio, automatic headlights, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning system, a lane departure warning system and more.

For city driving, Encore’s stubby size gives it superb nimbleness when parking in tight spots. And its tight turning radius allows u-turns on most streets without having to back up even once. Given these attributes, Encore can be the ideal car for retired folks who want economy and some utility. Or, those who want to use it as a second car possibly for economical commuting or for transporting the kids to soccer games where parking can often be at a premium, especially when there’s four or five games going on at the same time and location.

After a low 18-5-inch step-in into the cabin of the Premium model, you’re treated to leather interior with contrasting stitching and comfy, but narrow front seats. The rears though are capable of accommodating six-footers but shoulder room is expectedly tight. Soft touch dash material and faux woods trim add a splash of class to the cockpit.

If you need to transport a lengthy item, merely flip the split folding back seats and the front passenger seat whereby an 8-foot long fishing rod or curtain rod can easily fit.

The folding back seats, however, could use an update. Most comparable vehicles in this class offer one-step folding. With the Encore, the too tall headrests must first be removed before flipping the seat bottoms forward against the backs of the front seats, and before the backs are folded snug against the bottoms.

Commendably, HVAC controls are easy to operate without having to take your eyes off the road. And Encore still uses an ignition key instead of keyless as many are offered today. Lest you forget, simplicity is still in vogue.

Cargo space isn’t bad for a compact car. With the back seats upright, the area measures 28 inches deep, 39.5 wide and 32 high. Flip the seats and there’s 57 inches of depth (48.4 cubic feet) before folding the aforementioned passenger seat.

If Encore has one low point it’s its meager power. Encore’s powertrain consists of a 138-hp, 1.4L Turbo four-cylinder that generates 148 lb/ft of torque that sends power to the front wheel via a 6-speed automatic transmission.

When opening Encore’s hood, it’s funny to see that the battery is almost as large as the engines’ cylinder head. As such, around town performance is fine. But when encountering a hill with two adults aboard or when attempting to squeeze onto a space in rush hour freeway traffic, acceleration is slow. The engine breathes and works hard under full throttle runs. But as a consolation, Encore receives miserly EPA mileage estimates of 25 city, 33-highway mpg.

Ride wise and on highways, Encore is smooth and quiet. On imperfect roadways, the ride is bumpy mainly because of Encores’ short wheelbase of 100.6 inches. Stubby vehicles will always exhibit stout rides.

The Premium model started out with a base of $28,965 and ended with a total price of $30,685 with delivery. The only extra cost ($795) options were for the audio system with GPS nav, satellite radio and IntelliLink with touchscreen. Still a reasonable price for this much content. But for the here in the Southeast, AWD would be preferable.

Encore received the governments four star overall safety rating, five for frontal crash, five for side crash and four for rollover. The Institute for Highway Safety awarded it their highest "good" rating.

To check out a Encore stop by Kelly Car & Truck Center in Allentown or Star in Easton.

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