Right before Thanksgiving, we were privileged to participate in the Buick #ATLDistrict promotion and test drive a 2013 Buick Encore for a week. You probably saw us tweet about it. It was pretty awesome, if for no other reason than someone giving you a car for a week is always awesome. As long as the car doesn’t burst into flames, it’s awesome.
Honestly, the amount of luxury for the price was impressive. We got a fully tricked out model, and the price on that is $32,800 new. We’re still wistfully dreaming about the heated steering wheel and seats. Also impressive: big screen voice-activated navigation system (kind of nice to scream out where you’re going and get immediate directions), XM and Pandora radio with full-color display, Rainsense wipers that worked quite well, rear-vision camera (standard), forward collision alert, park assist and more.
We didn’t get to test out the park assist or the lane-departure warnings, but the forward collision alerts were kind of nice–apparently they let you know when the car in front of you has slowed down to where you will hit them if you don’t take action. Although it got a little annoying on the highway stuck behind someone who rides their brakes. But the Bose sound system and noise cancellation tech really helped keep the stress levels down. (Keep calm and rock on.) Random fun feature: there’s a non-cigarette-lighter-plug in the backseat. Say whaaaaat?
Since we usually drive a sedan, the Encore initially felt like wrestling a yak down the street. But, like, a really responsive yak. Ultimately the car isn’t that large for an SUV–it really takes up the same width as a sedan, but the extra height is deceptive once inside. And it’s easy to get used to the size. The fuel economy is 25/33, which isn’t as good as our sedan, but is decent for an SUV. Cargo space wasn’t shabby for day-to-day stuff (taking out the trash/recycling, shopping trips)
The car probably wouldn’t be described as “peppy” or a “sports car,” but its performance was pretty solid in the Georgia rains. Ultimately, the Encore is good for someone who wants some luxury flair on an SUV without having to drive an actual giant road-hogging SUV or pay lots of money for the privilege. The base price is just under $25,000, leaving plenty of room for some add-ons while staying under $30K.
Verdict: The Encore is underrated. If we hadn’t just bought a new car, we’d seriously consider buying one.