The 2019 Buick Encore is a cute compact crossover in an increasingly crowded arena. Now in its sixth model year in the United States market, the 2019 Encore is the smallest Buick crossover, and arguably one of its more enticing models.
Nothing notable has changed for the 2019 model year, other than a narrowing of the trim-level selection. The basic design was freshened in 2017, toning down the grille and front end to bring it closer to Buick’s current, subdued styling themes.
Models include base (1SV), Preferred, Sport Touring, and Essence. Two versions of the turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine are available. In standard form, the turbo-4 makes 138 horsepower. The upgraded version with start/stop technology, available for most trim levels, develops 153 horsepower.
All Encores use a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. All except the base model can be equipped with all-wheel drive for an additional $1,500.
Crash-test scores have been admirable, but the Encore falls short in standard and optional active-safety features, including automatic emergency braking.
The NHTSA gives the Encore a five-star score overall, as well as for both frontal and side impacts. The IIHS rates the 2019 Encore’s crash protection as mostly “Good,” except for the more stringent passenger-side small impact collision, where it earned an “Acceptable” rating.
Despite its snug interior and small footprint, Buick’s interior designers managed to carve out a reasonable amount of passenger space for the Encore.
The Encore’s options list includes a $940 Safety Package that provides lane-departure warnings and forward-collision warnings, as well as front/rear parking assist and rain-sensing wipers.
Prices do not include $995 destination charge.
Base Encore 1SV ($23,200) comes only with front-wheel drive, including a six-way power driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless ignition, Bluetooth connectivity, 4G LTE hotspot, and 18-inch wheels.
Preferred ($24,600 with front-wheel drive, $26,100 with all-wheel drive) adds a rear cargo cover and front/rear floor mats.
Sport Touring ($25,800 with FWD, $27,300 with AWD) gets distinctive 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, foglights, and remote start.
Essence ($29,300 with FWD, $30,800 with AWD) adds leather seat upholstery, blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.
The Encore’s simple, elegant lines have aged well. It wears an appealing blend of curves and smooth body lines, on a somewhat narrow overall structure.
A squared-off hood and comparably-shaped roofline banish the wedge profile used by so many of today’s compact cars and crossover SUVs. Despite modest dimensions, elements of classic SUV styling can be seen along the Encore’s body.
There’s a lot to appreciate within the Encore’s neatly-finished, if rather narrow, cabin. Trim details suggest higher quality than might be expected. In fact, Buick has filled the Encore with premium-feel materials, while offering a variety of color options.
A high-mounted 8.0-inch touchscreen serves as the dashboard’s centerpiece. Leather is unavailable except in top Essence trim; others have standard cloth upholstery.
Despite lack of a central armrest, the Encore’s front seats are supportive and comfortable. In the back row, most adults will rub shoulders as they ride. Both legroom and head clearance are limited, especially if the optional moonroof is installed. Only small rear-facing car seats will fit.
The Encore is a small car and its small back seat means four adults at most will fit, though three small people will be fine in the back seat.
With its rear seatbacks up, an Encore offers 19 cubic feet of cargo space. Space grows to 48 cubic feet with seatbacks folded down.
With its refined ride and ample sound deadening, the 2019 Encore is pleasant on the road. It’s much more suited to life as an urban hatchback cruiser than a sporty crossover. The Encore’s base engine and its uprated engine offer moderate acceleration.
Refined and quiet, rolling on 18-inch wheels, the Encore supplies a smooth and well-composed ride. As a rule, it copes well with rough surfaces, though its size means its ride gets busy when traversing uneven or bumpy terrain at highway speeds.
Sound-deadening materials and acoustic glass create a cocoon-like experience that’s rare in vehicles of this size. Such serenity makes it easier to enjoy the optional Bose sound system.
The Encore is among the thriftiest crossovers. With front-drive, the standard 138-horsepower turbo-4 is EPA-rated at 25/30 mpg City/Highway, or 27 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive reduces each figure by 1 mpg. The step-up 153-horsepower engine, with stop/start and front-wheel drive, is EPA-rated at 26/31 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined.
If size is a bigger priority than space the Buick Encore delivers a refined experience and premium feel. Active-safety technology is limited, but even the entry-level Encore is generously equipped; the Encore Essence might be the best overall value.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.