The Buick Encore isn't a looker, but it's still a great CUV.

2016 Buick Encore Review

A large list of standard features and surprisingly fun to drive

By: Wade Thiel

Web2Carz Senior Staff Writer

Published: March 2nd, 2016

The Buick Encore does a lot of things right in terms of driving dynamics and ride quality, but the company put together this package with such an odd looking exterior that it's easy to forget how much you like driving the crossover once you get out of it. Buick tried to make up for its odd exterior by packing in the standard features, but we're still contemplating whether or not the company succeeded in overcoming its unfortunate exterior.

  • Exterior: Cute and ugly at once

    If you find French Bulldogs, Pugs and other animals with compact smushed faces cute, then you'll probably love the Encore because its designers seem to have used that look as their inspiration for the front of the vehicle. In comparison, the rear of the CUV looks really nice, with large taillights and attractively curved haunches.

    • The side mirrors appear too large next to the Encores compact front end.
    • Buick's waterfall grille is the best part of the front fascia.
    • 18-inch wheels help give the CUV a tall stance and high ride height.

  • Interior: Spacious, with a lot of buttons

    Once we got inside the Encore, we forgot all about the odd exterior. The seats are well-bolstered, the ride height is high and the leather-wrapped steering wheel is comfortable in your hands. When we first sat in the Encore its dash full of more than 30 buttons gave us pause, but after a few minutes, we found the buttons easier to use than many touchscreen-based systems.

    • There's plenty of legroom for a compact CUV (40.8 inches up front and 38.8 inches in the rear).
    • The Encore features 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space and over 48 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down.
    • Buick's QuietTuning and Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology does wonders to keep things quiet in the cabin.
    • The Buick IntelliLink system is actually pretty easy to use despite the dozens of buttons used to control it.

  • Driving Impressions: Sporty ride and peppy engine

    The Encore surprised us again when we took it out on the road. The little CUV has minimal body roll and features stiffer suspension than we thought it would. Still, it's a long way from being a harsh ride. The engine accelerates quickly, something we didn't expect, and the steering is light and responsive. The Encore is certainly no canyon carver, but it'll handle any urban environment with ease.

    • Well-tuned variable-effort electronic steering.
    • Ride height allows for optimal visibility, which makes maneuvering the already compact vehicle even easier.
    • The Sport Touring model's engine seems to handle the Encore's rather tubby curb weight better than the standard engine.

  • Final Impressions:

    If you can get past the Encore's exterior, or if you like its styling (plenty of people do), it really is a great CUV. Superb visibility, plenty of power, commendable handling capabilities, quiet ride and plenty of interior space add up to a pretty good vehicle all around.

    The only downside to this vehicle is its odd exterior and its price, which is higher than other vehicles in this segment such as the Jeep Renegade or the Fiat 500X. Still, the Buick offers a more premium feel and ride than much of the competition which may be what you're looking for.

  • Specifications and Price:

    Engine: Ecotec 1.4-liter Turbocharged I4

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive

    Power Output: 153 hp / 177 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy: TBD (trim level not yet EPA rated)

    Base Price: $28,850

    As Tested: Monroney not available at time of review.

    Options on our test vehicle: Monroney not available at time of review.

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• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 Buick Encore, click here: 2016 Buick Encore.