Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Buick's Encore a loaded, affordable crossover

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – Looking for a Buick sport-utility vehicle but don’t want to lay down the $40,000 to $47,000 or so it takes to get into the automaker’s Enclave?

If so, you might want to take a look at the latest Buick Encore, extensively reworked for 2017 and an SUV sufficiently loaded to make you feel really good about saving some money.

My 2017 Buick Encore Premium tester with front-wheel drive had a lengthy list of standard features for the starting price of $30,465, and even a substantial option package kept the bottom line at $34,675.

The extras included the variable valve timing version of the turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four cylinder engine with a max horsepower rating of 153, or 15 more horses than the standard power plant.

The tester responded quickly and enthusiastically in most situations, struggling just a bit on the steepest of hill climbs.  Handling was akin to what I expect from a midsize sedan, a good thing.

The Encore looks a bit pinched and squat parked next to its Enclave sibling, but the crossover has a clean look from all angles.  Smooth, aerodynamic styling on the front end is new for 2017.

The interior has likewise been restyled … for the better.  Chrome accents and carefully crafted stitching are definite improvements, and the center stack of controls is easier to use.  I really liked the easy-to-read, 8-inch color touch screen.

Five-star federal government safety ratings abound on the Encore, including a top-level overall vehicle score.  Fuel mileage on the tester came in at a strong 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Interior comforts were downright luxurious, with leather-appointed seats and a Bose premium audio system.  The tester was loaded with safety/security systems, including a rear cross-traffic alert (kept me honest in crowded parking lots several times) and forward collision alert.

The only minor gripe I had was less-than-optimum, 360-degree vision from my cockpit seat, but this was mostly negated by the standard side blind-zone alert system, standard on the Encore.

All in all, the Encore earns a B-plus to A-minus grade among the large field of practical-size, relatively-affordable crossovers.


Thanks for reading in 2016.  Happy new year to all.  Looking forward to offering my take on more vehicles in 2017 -- MG

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