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2013 Buick Encore: this is one tiny, yet luxurious, car

BY ALAN GELL Modified: December 13, 2012 at 11:13 am •  Published: December 15, 2012
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I know. You are asking yourself, “What is an Encore?” Doesn't the definition simply mean a repeat? In Buick's vernacular, the simple answer is “maybe yes, maybe no.” The Encore is a very small compact crossover with luxury touches abounding. It is a repeat of the popular Buick Enclave, but on a much smaller scale. It is classified as an SUV – Sport Utility Vehicle.

The Buick Encore was unveiled early in 2012 at the Detroit Auto Show. After 11 months of waiting, journalists were summoned to Atlanta, Georgia. It was the middle of December when media types actually got behind the wheel for test-driving. It was a fun experience and certainly eye opening as to the possibilities in the very small car market.

The 2013 Buick Encore is being called a Small Luxury Crossover. It is built on the same platform as the Chevy Sonic (a repeat?). It is a crossover alternative to the larger, seven-passenger Buick Enclave. Buick is making great strides to move and widen its customer base from older folks to the 'almost retired' or younger professional age group. The Encore and the Enclave are sporty and contemporary and not like your great-grandfather's Roadmaster that resembled a lumber truck with chrome.

The Encore is not designed for the push-the-pedal-down driver, but more for everyday comfort. It is powered by a single choice of engines, a 1.4-liter Turbo EcoTec that produces 138 horsepower, taken from the Chevy Cruze (a repeat?). It is mated to a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is smooth and can allow you to slightly feel a gear change if you really push hard on the pedal. There is not enough push to throw you and the passengers into the seat back, but it does hold its own in normal traffic situations.

Outside, the Encore is attractive. It has all the anticipated features of a Buick, such as the traditional port-holes, the waterfall grill, and sufficient chrome touches. Because it is an SUV, a roof rack is mounted on the top to carry all that important 'stuff' to the campsite or to grandma's house. Oh wait! grandma might be driving this one. She can use the roof rack to tie down all those necessities when she hauls the grandchildren along with her. Grandmothers are getting much younger these days, aren't they?

Inside, the new Buick Encore will have either leather or cloth seats, depending upon one of three trim levels purchased. The gauge area and center console are within easy reach and fairly intuitive to use. The dashboard area is designed with wood trim and soft-touch materials, combined to offer a noticeable feeling of luxury. There are two, count them, two glove boxes and a lot more storage spaces and cubby-holes. Cargo area? Not much there if you have people with you. The front passenger seat and the rear seats fold flat and that works well in most cases. But the lack of cargo area in the rear explains the need for those roof racks.

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