Feb
27
2015 Buick Encore

Consumer Guide’s test Buick Encore arrived in AWD Leather Group trim. Our test truck came to $31,110 including destination charge.

2015 Audi Q52015 Buick Encore Leather Group AWD

Class: Compact Crossover

Dates tested: 2/11/2015 – 2/17/2015

Miles Driven: 206

Fuel Used: 9.0

Real-world fuel economy: 22.9 mpg

Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/30/26 (city, highway, combined)

Base price: $29,450 (not including $925 destination charge)

Options on test car: Navigation system ($495), roof carrier mount ($240)

Price as tested: $31,110

 

Quick Hits

The great: Quick handling and easy maneuverability

The good: Quiet cabin and upscale interior trim

The not so good: Modest power

More Encore price and availability information

 

John Biel

Early in 2014, Consumer Guide® sampled a Buick Encore compact-crossover SUV, so coming back to one a year later—especially for a vehicle not fundamentally changed—should have been déjà vu all over again. It wasn’t, however. Not quite.

2015 Buick Encore

All Encore models come standard with 18-inch aluminum wheels.

 The 2014 Encore test was carried out in a front-wheel-drive example with the same 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission as in the ’15 model with all-wheel drive. I don’t know if it had to do with the presence of the AWD running gear (according to Buick’s 2014 figures, the all-wheel Encore weighed 119 pounds more than a front-driver), but performance felt completely different than in the 2014 Encore test. Acceleration was labored and somewhat loud in the 2015 model, and punching it at speed came with an inordinate wait for kickdown. This Encore was hardly the lively, quiet expressway performer that we praised a year ago.

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2015 Buick Encore

Designers made room for Buick’s classic ventiports on Encore’s hood.

Neither was it as economical for this tester. A 205.6-mile trip, with 51 percent city-style driving, returned 22.97 mpg—a little more than 3 mpg short of what the ’14 Encore averaged in the same hands. That most definitely has to do with the all-wheel drive. EPA ratings for AWD models are 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while estimates for the front-drive job are 25 city/33 highway.

Another difference: While CG’s 2014 Encore was a top-of-the-line Premium model, this latest example was a step down from that in what Buick calls Leather Group trim. Speaking of “Leather Groups,” this was one that came in just 2 shades of gray, not 50, but still livened things up from an appearance standpoint. Other interior standards include heated front seats and steering wheel, 6-way power adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, 6-speaker audio system, satellite radio, IntelliLink infotainment system with 7-inch screen, and Bluetooth connectivity. Other significant basic gear consists of remote keyless entry, a rearview camera, blind-zone and rear cross-traffic alerts, fog lamps, heated exterior mirrors with turn-signal indicators, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Like all 2015 General Motors vehicles, the Encore newly comes with OnStar information service with built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability.

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2015 Buick Encore

There’s plenty of front-row headroom in Encore, though shoulder room can be an issue for larger folks.

Because the IntelliLink display screen sits atop the dash and out of reach, it requires a lot of button-pushing to work it. All the necessary buttons are on the busy center stack.

Otherwise, this driver’s impressions of the 2015 Encore are mostly an, uh, encore of his take on the 2014 model:

  • Interior dimensions are pretty intimate. Second-row seating has limited adult-size leg room for no more than 2 people. Head room is good in both rows, though, and chair-height front seats lend a good view of the road.
  • Cargo space is limited. Rear seat backs fold in a 60/40 split but require flipping up the cushions first. The front passenger-side seatback does fold down to accommodate extra-long items. Cabin storage is pretty good: two gloveboxes, a pullout drawer to the left of the steering wheel, door map pockets, a roll-top bin at the rear of the console, and cup holders in both the console and the pull-down center arm rest in the rear seat.

    2015 Buick Encore

    There’s plenty of rear-seat headroom, but legroom can be tight behind taller front-seat occupants.

  • There’s plenty of 2nd-row headroom in Encore.
  •  Small, sometimes hard-to-read system-control buttons, and small numbers on speedometer and tachometer dials that seem large enough to accommodate clearer graphics.
  • Commendable ride and handling with good tight-quarters maneuverability.

With a single factory option—a navigation system—and a dealer-installed carrier mount upping the ante, the 2015 Encore test car came to $31,110 delivered—a little more than CG’s front-wheel-drive ’14 tester that had more creature comforts and better performance. That’s certainly not the same old-same old.

Tom Appel

I mirror John’s impression that the AWD hardware softened our test Encore’s thrust a bit, though it was my take away that the deficit came mostly in midrange power. That said, I remain a fan of the Encore, so much so that I’ve spent time trying to talk my father into buying one.

2015 Buick Encore

Encore boasts a surprising amount of cargo space, given its tidy dimensions.

Encore intenders concerned that the tiny Buick is a little out of their reach take heart, the new Chevrolet Trax is very much the same vehicle just decontended a little bit for entry-level duty.

Test Drive: 2014 Buick Encore

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