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#2

in Affordable Compact SUVs

MSRP: $24,160 - $30,465
Invoice: $23,194 - $29,246
MPG: 25 City / 33 Hwy
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Buick Encore Performance

Play 2014 Buick Encore Performance Review Video Video: Encore Performance 2014 Buick Encore Performance Video Review

Test drivers say that the 2014 Buick Encore offers predictable handling, accurate steering and a quiet, comfortable ride. Although the Encore also earns fuel economy estimates that are good for the class, reviewers agree that the Encore’s biggest shortcoming is its lack of power, particularly on the highway.

  • "The primary drawback to the 2014 Buick Encore, though, is its sluggish acceleration. It takes close to 10 seconds to get to 60 mph. Not only is this slower than most similarly sized competitors in this price range, including the Fiat 500L, Mini Cooper S Countryman and Nissan Juke, it's something you'll notice as soon as you hit the gas pedal to merge onto the highway." -- Edmunds
  • “There are plenty of eye-catching compact SUVs out there, many with more power under the hood than the Encore. If a low price or the need to tow is a must, it's best to cross the Encore off your list." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Its tallish body leans through corners, yet it remains planted and predictable, and the gearbox smoothly knocks through its cogs no matter the situation or driver haste." -- Motor Trend (2013)
  • "It's at this point in the program where the driving enthusiasts among you will probably want to tap out. Said plainly, while competent, this is not an entertaining vehicle to drive." -- Autoblog (2013) 

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Buick Encore is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 138 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. The EPA reports that the 2014 Encore gets up to 25/33 mpg city/highway, which makes it one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs in the class.

Many reviewers are let down by the Encore’s powertrain. They say that the Encore accelerates slowly and that there’s not enough power available, especially on the highway. Additionally, one test driver writes that the problem is magnified by the transmission, which is prone to shift into higher gears to maximize fuel economy.

  • "This just isn't enough engine for a crossover SUV, and although the Encore feels adequately powerful in city driving, it feels strained when merging onto the highway or making any sort of passing maneuver. Not helping matters is the six-speed automatic, which is quick to upshift into its higher gears. This helps optimize fuel economy, but it also blunts the Encore's responsiveness." -- Edmunds 
  • "As for caveats, the Encore's 1.4-liter EcoTec engine proved quite capable of holding its own in city traffic and freeway running, but the added mass of the all-wheel-drive system does impact its enthusiasm, particularly when the passenger count rises or on sustained uphill runs." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With so little power on tap and roughly 3200 pounds to lug around, the Encore isn't fast, but it is decently quick thanks to its low-end turbo punch." -- Motor Trend (2013)
  • "You're as likely as not to be in a dead heat with that hipster driving a Nissan Cube in the next lane. The Encore is not quick, friends." -- Autoblog (2013)

Handling and Braking

Critics agree that the 2014 Buick Encore delivers composed handling and a comfortable ride. While reviewers don’t consider the Encore sporty, they note that precise steering and good cornering ability make the Encore an easy SUV to drive. A few test drivers also note that the Encore’s small turning radius makes it easy to maneuver in parking lots or congested urban settings.

  • "Handling is not sporty, but the Encore is nonetheless enjoyable to drive around town, as it goes where you point it and fits into small parking spaces. The steering is reasonably precise, and a tidy turning circle makes for easy U-turns." -- Edmunds 
  • "As a crossover SUV with global aspirations, the 2014 Buick Encore platform has been tweaked and tuned for a world market that demands a firm suspension, precise steering and minimal body roll. To this equation, Buick has added its own modifications giving the Encore a ride better aligned with American tastes, but without sacrificing any of the car's handling or cornering ability." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With a simple suspension setup of struts in front and a torsion-beam axle in the rear, the Buick Encore nevertheless achieves a masterful balance between refined ride quality and taut body control, as if it had been developed in Germany, not Korea." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "The Encore is just plain happier in urban settings, where its tight turning circle (just 36.7 feet) and tidy footprint make it a standout in the parking wars and dicing it up in traffic." -- Autoblog (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

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