Definitely Not Your Grandmother’s Buick.
Whenever I hear Buick’s new ad campaign – That’s a Buick? – a certain scene from the movie Spaceballs pops into my head. It’s where Barf (the Wookie-inspired, half-man, half-dog played by John Candy) says of Princess Vespa, “Funny, she doesn’t look Druish.”
I really have no idea why these two things are related in my mind, except that whenever I see a new Buick I think to myself, “Funny, that doesn’t look like a Buick.”
As I drove the 2017 Buick Encore Premium AWD for a week to test it out, I often did a double-take when looking for the car in a parking lot. The beauty and sleek design of this compact SUV impressed me again and again.
Who this car is for
- Singles, couples or small families who live in cities or urban areas where parking is tight
- Drivers looking for good fuel economy with all wheel drive; the Encore gets up to 31 MPG on the highway
- People who want a small SUV but plenty of flexible interior space including fold flat seats
- Drivers who want the latest technology and luxuries
- Anyone who wants Wi-Fi in the car
What it costs
I drove the Buick Encore Premium AWD with additional options, which has an MSRP of $36,175. Additional trim levels for the Buick Encore include:
- Encore 1SV, $21,915
- Preferred, $25,290
- Sport Touring, $26,490
- Preferred II, $27,790
- Essence, $29,990
- Premium, $31,390
Beauty, safety, and premium interior touches
The front seat of the Buick Encore is spacious, comfortable, and well-appointed. It comes with leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, driver and front passenger heated seats, 6-way power adjustable front seats, leather-appointed seats, dual-zone climate control, and two driver seat memory settings.
The LED headlights, outside heated power mirrors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers lend a touch of luxury.
Safety features include forward collision alert, front and rear park assist, lane departure warning, rear camera, blind-spot alert, and rear cross traffic alert.
The backseat is a bit tight for an adult, but fine for a family with one small child. With my full family of four (two teenagers), it would not be ideal for a long road trip. There is ample cargo space in this compact SUV. We fit 3 suitcases, a duffel bag, and a backpack in the back on our way to the airport. And if you need more space, you can fold the back seat down flat or utilize the 60/40 split.
Wi-Fi in the car is a game-changer for busy moms
The Buick Encore came equipped with OnStar 4G LTE wi-fi. Simply press the OnStar button and say “wi-fi settings” and the password (which you, as an owner set after buying a data plan) will be displayed on the screen. I can’t say enough about how awesome this feature is; the antenna on the roof makes the signal stronger and more reliable than a phone hot spot and OnStar just upped the game with a $20 a month unlimited data package.
For long road trips – or any time you get in the car – the wi-fi allows your kids to stream and access the internet without burning through your data plan. And all those hours when I was sitting in the car waiting for my kids at a lesson or activity? I hopped in the passenger seat and opened up my laptop. Instant office!
The Buick Encore also offers Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto. The touchscreen is the perfect size and very clear and easy to use. I had no trouble finding every control I needed. There are two USB ports, a 12V plug and aux input in the front seat and a household (120V) plug in the back seat.
Driver experience: Comfortable, but a little bit off
While the center dashboard and controls were intuitive, the experience behind the steering wheel was just a bit off for me. I was never quite able to get my seat and the steering wheel in that “just perfect” position. As you can see in the photos below, when I had the steering wheel at a comfortable placement for driving, part of the dash was obstructed. Whenever I needed to see the fuel gauge or the headlight controls, I needed to duck my head a bit or shift to my left slightly.
Auto Stop may save you a little on gas and emissions
The Auto stop feature is one that is becoming more common in new cars. Auto stop turns your engine off when the brake is applied and the vehicle comes to a complete stop. As soon as you lift your foot off the brake, the engine automatically starts up again.
When I first noticed this feature, I thought something was wrong with the car. As I lifted my foot from the brake at a green light and started to drive, I got the feeling that a gear was slipping. There is a noticeable, though slight, jerk in the car as the engine turns back on.
Once I discovered that this indeed was a fuel-saving option and not something gone awry, I tried to get used to it. I really tried. I understand the reasoning behind it and I think it’s a great option for those who often sit in a lot of traffic. But for my every day, suburban driving habits, I found it more annoying than useful.
What we loved
- Wi-fi hotspot
- Intuitive infotainment system, with additional, easy to find buttons for climate control
- 6-way seat adjustment with two memory positions is nice when you have multiple drivers in the family
- Rain sensing windshield wipers
- Sleek design
What you need to know
- Average fuel economy is 26mpg city / 31 mpg highway
- Seats 5 but more comfortable for 4
- Regular gas recommended
- 4-year, 50,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty
- 6-year, 70,000-mile powertrain warranty
What we listened to
My daughter was in the car with me most of the time during my week testing out this car, so here’s what I was typically subjected to, I mean, ahem, what we enjoyed on Spotify.
Disclosure: The 2017 Buick Encore was provided for my review. All opinions are my own.