2013 Buick Encore at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show
- Competes with: Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape
- Looks like: Buick’s version of the deceased Saturn Vue
- Drivetrain: 140-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with six-speed automatic; front- or all-wheel drive
- Hits dealerships: Early 2013
Buick's baby crossover is here, and "baby" is no joke. It's so much smaller than the three-row Enclave — nearly 3 feet shorter from bumper to bumper and 9.1 inches narrower — that Buick officials told us another crossover could slot between the two. The Encore stretches the limits of entry-luxury crossovers, taking on models that haven't even arrived here yet: the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, which slot below existing entry-luxury crossovers like the X3 and Q5. When the Encore hits dealers early next year, you might also shop it against a Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5.
The Encore's overall shape looks like the erstwhile Saturn Vue, with Buick cues in the grille, faux hood portals and blue-ensconced headlights. Faux vents cut an odd chunk from the lights themselves — a strange cue we'll have to warm up to. The Encore's lower flanks have a darker finish, but Buick matches them to a pearl paint if you specify the color. Short overhangs characterize the profile, which sits on 18-inch aluminum wheels.
The cabin boasts gobs of insulation and active noise cancellation, the latter a Buick first. Buick's standard IntelliLink multimedia system can stream smartphone apps through a 7-inch dash display. Like the Verano sedan, the Encore comes standard with leatherette-and-cloth or full-leather seats. Options include heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system and a backup camera.
Behind the rear seats is 18.5 cubic feet of cargo room. Fold the seats down, and the Encore has 48.4 cubic feet — closer to hatchback than SUV territory, but similar to the space in the X1 and Q3, Buick says.
We wonder if GM's 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder will imbue the Encore with much passing power; it's the sole engine. With 140 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque, the tiny four-cylinder works through a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional. Buick has yet to estimate gas mileage, but the same engine helps the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic achieve 40-plus mpg. The Encore is in the same weight ballpark, so we'll see how it does.
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