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Entry price: $22,990

Price as tested: $29,250

Likes: Looks, more powerful engine, Buick heritage, fun to drive.

Dislikes: Top line safety features only available on Premium, tight rear seat.

This week, we’re reviewing the 2018 Buick Encore, a compact SUV dressed in Sport Touring trim with AWD mechanicals. Notable is more horsepower on all models and a recent cosmetic upgrade that features a new grille, hood, headlights, fenders, rear taillights and the noted Buick emblem front and center.

The 2018 Encore lineup includes the entry Encore  ($22,990), Preferred ($26,355), Sport Touring ($25,600), Preferred II ($26,900) Essence ($30,095) and Premium ($31,595). For AWD models, add approximately $1,500 to the above prices as our AWD Sport Touring started at  $27,100.

Keep in mind Encore is not an “off-road-bully” vehicle although it’s a fun car to take on light duty trails for camping or a day fishing at your favorite stream. As for towing duties, leave that to sibling Enclave, a seven passenger SUV that is completely re-designed for 2018.   

An important mechanical upgrade the last few years is Encore’s standard across the board, 11-percent more powerful (153 horses) 20 percent more torque (177 lb. ft.) turbo inline four-cylinder that used to be an option. It replaces the less powerful 1.4 turbo from last year that delivered just 138 horses and 148 lb. ft. of torque. This is a good move as the Encore’s Achilles heel has always been a lack of horsepower and torque. Power is delivered to the ground via a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts well.

Encore’s AWD is fully automatic and when combined with GM’s Stabilitrak traction controls, four wheel ABS disc brakes, electronic brakeforce and solid Five Star government safety ratings, you can be assured of secure motoring in all types of weather. Overall all Encores, be it front drive or AWD, are fun to drive, handle decent and are easy to park.

Encore’s cabin is well appointed, regardless of trim selected. You’ll be pleased that every Encore, from base trim to Premium, arrives with standard power driver seat, rear view safety camera, Android/Apple compatibility, keyless entry, OnStar, Sirius/XM, air conditioning, all the powers, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

You also receive at no extra cost Bluetooth, 4G WiFi hotspot, input jack, a six-speaker Bose sound system, 8-inch touchscreen and a USB port interface. Also included is Buick’s IntelliLink and interior noise cancellation technology that makes the cabin extra quiet. Sport Touring also features a 120-volt outlet that is not available on lesser priced models. The Sporting Package features 18-inch tires on special Midnight Silver aluminum wheels and a winged rear spoiler.

In summary, Buick Encore is a fine little SUV that offers attractive pricing. Although some of its competitors offer better fuel mileage and more interior room, Encore is wrapped in the mechanical and creature comfort craftsmanship Buick is noted for.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.


Did you know

July is Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. One way to prevent theft is to never leave your keys in your car. 


Auto bits

Air bags could save family members from a fatal fall

A study of hip fractures among those 65 or older in the The Journal of the American Medical Association determined that of the 300,000 Americans in this age group who fracture a hip each year, as many as three out of ten will die within a year. The study also found that many more of these victims will experience “significant functional loss.”

One possible technology that can help are airbags like those used in automobiles.

One pioneer in preventing hip fractures is Dr. Robert Buckman, MD. A former trauma surgeon, he started Active Protective to help design wearable safety devices that could prevent fractures.  That led to a partnership with Key Safety Systems. You may have heard of KSS. This leader in the field of automotive airbags made headlines when it acquired Takata after its disastrous bankruptcy.

As far as the technical challenges go, this one is a piece of cake. For side airbags to work properly they must deploy in about 10 milliseconds. An airbag worn around the waist has up to ten times that amount of time to detect a fall and deploy. That relatively long span of time allows engineers to avoid having to use fast-acting, and powerful pyrotechnic actuators that could cause harm.

The technology seems promising, but is there really a market? With over 3 million emergency room admissions each year due to falls, and ten percent of those being hip fractures, the answer seems to be a definitive “yes.”

John Goreham/BestRide.com