First Drive: Buick Encore

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Barbara Schaffer

Atlanta ? The full size Buick Enclave has to be one of the most stylish crossovers on the market with its long graceful lines and plush appointments.? However, it?s over 200 inches long, weighs 4,700-pounds and seats seven, and not everyone wants or needs that much crossover.? So, now it?s time for an Encore, a Buick Encore.

Nearly three feet shorter, 1,500 pounds lighter and with seating for five, the Buick Encore brings the opulence of the Enclave to a more personal size.? With styling cues inspired by the popular Enclave, the Encore too, has nicely sculptured lines, the trademark chrome waterfall grille and large 18-inch wheels.? Tasteful chrome accents include Buick?s signature portholes mounted on the hood.? The overall look has a racy raked-out look that gives an in-motion look.

?Encore opens the Buick brand to new groups of customers with a compelling blend of luxury, utility and efficiency,? said Tony DiSalle, vice president of Buick Marketing. ?Its versatile shape, agile size and available all-wheel drive invite owners to live active lifestyles while enjoying Buick?s signature style, comfort and refinement.?

2013 Buick EncoreBuick is noted for their ?quiet? engineering and it?s more than a slogan, every Buick I?ve driven is very quiet.? To achieve that ?for the new Encore, quiet engineers use abundant sound deadening materials and technologies to keep the unwanted sounds from occurring.? For the sounds they don?t stop at the source, engineers have integrated the same active Bose technology I see many passengers with headsets using on the airlines into the Encore.? The system uses ceiling-mounted microphones to detect noises and identify the frequencies.? It then broadcasts counteracting sound waves to mask the unwanted sounds.? It sounds like magic, and it works.

The Encore interior is filled with premium materials, French stitched trims, wood accents and a touch of chrome.? It has a very upscale look that?s available in Ebony, Medium Titanium and Saddle.

2013 Buick Encore with Saddle interiorI?m a stickler for good organization, and the Encore exceeded my expectations for storage space with four storage compartments in the dash, seat back pockets, multiple door compartments and even bins under the front passenger?s seat and the rear load floor.? The interior space is also larger than it would appear based on the petite exterior.? Two adults comfortably fit on the rear bench seat, but three will be tight.? Cargo space is nearly 19 cubic feet and expands to more than 48 cubic feet when the rear seat back is folded flat.2013 Buick Encore

Designed for a global market, the Encore is powered by a 138-hp, 1.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine which drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.? All Encore models are also available with all-wheel drive ($1,500).? The EPA rates it at 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway making it the highest fuel economy of any FWD crossover offered in the U.S.? Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph takes about 10 seconds.

2013 Buick EncoreThe Encore looks good and is a comfortable drive.? Even though I?m not what you?d call a hot rodder, I still prefer a little more power under the hood; it?s more comfortable for passing and merging onto a fast moving freeway.? Driving through the hills the Encore seemed to handle well with little body roll, despite its tall stance.

Available in four trim levels, all Encore models offer an equipment list that includes features like18-inch aluminum wheels, satellite radio, rear vision camera, Bluetooth?, power driver?s seat and Buick IntelliLink Internet connectivity.? Upper trim levels add equipment like a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, Rainsense wipers, leather seating and park assist.? Standalone options include premium audio with navigation, sunroof and several convenience accessories.2013 Buick Encore

Encore pricing starts at a low $24,950, including the destination charge, for the FWD base model and peaks at $33,775 for the Premium Group AWD version.

The Encore should have a strong appeal for couples of all ages that want more than basics.? This is a plush crossover in a convenient personal size.? It makes a nice addition to the good-looking and quality Buick lineup.

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