2014 Buick Encore Walk Around

Buick Encore is the smallest luxury crossover utility vehicle on the market. Encore is 165 inches long, with a wheelbase of 100.6 inches, and a track of 60.6 inches (front and rear). That’s slightly longer overall than the Mini Countryman but significantly shorter than the Ford Escape.

And because the Encore is tall enough to make its occupants feel welcome, in pictures, its proportions make it look a little more like a Smart car than its designers might have wished.

In person, the Encore’s proportions are less startling. Its nose features the signature Buick waterfall grille, and its frontal view is muscular and attractive. The side view is unavoidably truncated and world-car-like. That will be a plus to many, while the wide, hungry tailgate in the rear is ready to take in a surprising amount of cargo: 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. Traditional Buick hood portholes are evident, along with chrome accents. Painted five-spoke aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires.

As a bona fide crossover, the Encore’s duties will be almost entirely on pavement, and its flowing, curvaceous styling is well suited to those tasks. As a world car, it boasts an extremely clean 0.37 coefficient of drag, which is a snooty way of saying it is aerodynamically clean, helping it get optimum mileage at highway speeds. In fact, the closer you look at the Encore, the more keenly its qualities suit the tastes and tendencies of buyers who want to reduce their carbon footprint to a tippy-toe, yet not pay the high price premium of a buying a hybrid vehicle to do so. Achieving full five-passenger service and getting 30 mpg or so on the highway in a vehicle that pampers its occupants every mile of the way; for many, that’s worth considering.

Interior

Climbing into the Buick Encore is where the real sleight-of-hand begins. The textures and materials, plus the elegant layout of the cabin, immediately convince you that you’re in a luxurious, expensive, inevitably much bigger crossover.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the interior is the classic American dashboard. Buick has no interest in reinventing the wheel, as do so many offshore luxury-car builders. But at the same time, there is nothing dull or so-what about this Buick instrumentation. The displays are clean, bright, without affectation, and tell you what you want to know. If there was any complaint to be made, it’s that the numbers on the speedometer and tachometer are small and hard to read.

The center stack’s secondary controls, too, are exemplary. The standard rearview camera (a welcome provision in this family vehicle) reads well, and the screen provides easily manipulated controls for the Encore’s very flexible audio system. The screen on our test vehicle also served as home port for Buick’s full-color navigation system. This nav system continues to be winsomely simple to use, with excellent graphics.

But there were other lesser keynotes throughout the Encore that help to enhance its luxuriousness. All the switchgear has a sturdy firmness, confirm that its designers had taken their mission seriously. Even the soft-touch surfaces along the top of the dashboard and around the doors have an elegant compliance.

Our test car had leather seating, which was handsome and comfortable. The driver’s seat’s excellent lateral support had a fine snugness that we preferred over the larger, less-fitted seats in the bigger Buick Enclave. The saddle leather was of fine quality, providing first-class seating for five adults. Elegant woodgrain elements highlighted the dash and doors, and as in the Enclave, at night, the Encore’s ice-blue tinted interior ambient lighting made us feel like we’d arrived in a very special place indeed. A small moonroof was there to confirm the impression.

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