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2018 Buick Encore Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

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2018 Buick Encore Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: SV vs Preferred vs Essence & Premium

What 2018 Buick Encore Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between the Trims?


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The Buick Encore has been a successful vehicle in Europe for many years under General Motors Opel brand before it landed in the United States in 2013 as the subcompact entry of the premium Buick model line. Unsurprising for a premium European car, this subcompact is very agile on city streets and has a plush and technologically advanced interior.

True to the mission of the new Buick product line, it offers an excellent combination of upscale accoutrements at a price well below the luxury car standard, bridging the gap between those vehicles and mass-market economy subcompacts. 

The 2018 Buick Encore is mostly the same as the previous year’s model, and comes in six different trim varieties, with most available with either of the two engines and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The high number of trim levels makes it easy to find one that has the equipment that you desire, and the whole model range covers a slightly wider price range than most subcompacts, ranging from around mid-$20,000s to low $30,000s.

This guide covers all of the major features that each of the trim levels adds in order to make it easier for prospective buyers to choose the perfect one for their needs. 

Compare the 2018 Encore 1SV vs Preferred Trims. What is the difference?  

The entry-level Buick Encore 1SV may be significantly pricier than most other subcompact crossovers, but it comes with a much more impressive set of standard features than most. Its advanced infotainment system is particular is very outstanding for the price point. It is controlled through an 8-inch touchscreen running the lauded IntelliLink software and bundled with a full range of Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto options, as well as a rearview camera and a Wi-Fi hotspot with a 4G LTE connection.

The specification sheet is peppered with a number of other upscale and premium touches, such as an active noise cancellation system, 18-inch aluminium wheels, keyless open and push button start, a leather-covered steering wheel, a power driver’s seat, and high quality interior materials. 

The main drawback of the 1SV trim level is the lack of options or packages on the trim level. It is the only Encore model without an all-wheel drive option, and is one of the few that is only available with the older-generation 1.4-liter engine. Similarly, it offers only a few options for exterior colors and no factory packages or accessories. 

The Preferred trim level adds only a few extras to the full range of standard equipment that the 1SV offers. A cargo cover and floor mats are standard, and it is available with an all-wheel drive system. It also comes in more colors than the 1SV, and offers a few small optional packages such as an accessory tow hitch, though the Encore is not officially rated for towing, as well as things like roof rails, a cargo tray, and premium floor mats. 

In general, the Encore 1SV is very impressive in terms of the standard features that it offers, with many of the features that other compacts and subcompacts only include on their mid-range or high-end models. That is a very tough act for the Preferred trim level to follow, and anyone who does not mind the limited color palette or the lack of all-wheel drive will find the 1SV to be the more attractive trim.

However, Buick has put in some effort to market the 1SV as more of a limited budget vehicle, with the Preferred as the real entry-level Encore. As such, the Preferred trim generally has better available manufacturer discounts and cash-back offers than the 1SV, which can actually often make it the less expensive option of the two trim levels. If that is the case, then the greater versatility combined with the lower price make the Preferred a better choice. 

Compare the 2018 Buick Encore Preferred vs Sport Touring Trim Levels. What is the difference? 

The Sport Touring trim of the Encore adds a few additional styling cues that make the Encore look a little more sporty and exciting. It comes with a rear spoiler and an exclusive wheel design, a remote starter and fog lights. The major attraction of the Sport Touring model lies in the availability of the more advanced engine though.

The next generation of the base 1.4-liter engine that is standard on all of the Encore models, it raises the horsepower from 138 to 153, while also slightly improving the fuel economy. 

Aside from the better engine, the Sport Touring offers a number of other attractive options unavailable on lower trim levels. Its Safety Package includes blind spot monitors and a rear cross traffic alert. It can also be equipped with a moonroof, a navigation system, and Bose premium audio. 

The Sport Touring offers a good balance between its available options and its price increase over the Preferred, which can make it a good alternative for getting the higher-grade options like the upgraded audio system or the moonroof compared to the more expensive Preferred II trim level. In terms of the available options, the upgraded engine is almost a must-have. At less than $1,000 added cost, it noticeably improves both the car’s economy and its performance. 

Compare the Encore Sport Touring vs Preferred II Trims. What is the difference?  

The Preferred II model ignores most of the visual upgrades added by the Sport Touring model, though it also adds some of the same comfort and convenience features on top of the regular Preferred model. It also includes fog lights, a remote starter, and fancier wheels, though those on the Preferred II are a little less flashy than those of the Sport Touring.

The Preferred II also includes the Safety Package with its blind spot monitors and rear cross traffic alerts. Other standard features include dual-zone climate control, a household-style power outlet, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. 

The Preferred II offers similar options to the Sport Touring, including the navigation system, a moonroof, Bose audio, and an upgraded engine. Also available is the Buick Experience package, which bundles the moonroof and navigation together with upgraded wheels at a discount. 

For the most part, the Preferred II and the Sport Touring models are fairly similar in both their standard and available features, with the main difference being in the dual-zone climate control, which is not available on the Sport Touring, which is instead slightly less expensive for the same equipment.

For drivers who don’t mind the manual climate control system and prefer the styling of the Sport Touring, it makes for the better choice, while the more comfort-oriented drivers will probably want the Preferred II instead. 

Compare the Encore Preferred II vs Essence Trim Levels. What is the difference? 

While even the more basic models of the Buick Encore are unquestionably premium, the Essence trim level is where the Encore shifts over to being a luxury vehicle. A leather interior, heated and powered front seats, and a heated steering wheel give it a very upscale feel when it comes to both styling and comfort.

The driver’s seat also has a memory function, and the headlights are upgraded to LEDs on this model. In terms of options, the Essence is practically identical to the Preferred II trim level, including the Buick Experience bundle. It can be equipped with any of the Encore powertrain options, including both engines and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. 

The Encore Essence offers the largest jump in price between any two Encore models, but it is also accompanied by the largest increase in standard features. Most of these features are also exclusives: none of the added standard features on the Essence are available as upgrades on lower models.

This makes the Encore Essence a must-have trim level for anyone who wants any of these features, including the highly-demanded ones like a leather interior. In general, this is the perfect starting trim for drivers looking for a luxury subcompact crossover. 
Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, Edmunds, CarsDirect & MotorTrend.

These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.

Compare the 2018 Buick Encore Essence vs Premium Trim Levels. What is the difference? 

While its name is relatively understated, the Premium is actually the top-end model of the Encore lineup. Like the Essence, it comes with a number of exclusive high-end features, though it does not come with as big of a price jump from the previous model.

The added standard features of this model include new active safety features - a forward collision warning, a lane departure warning, and front and rear parking sensors. It also includes a number of convenience features like rain-sensing windshield wipers and an interior air ionizer. The optional Bose sound system from the lower trim levels is also standard on the Premium. Other optional features are the same as the lower models, with the moonroof and navigation available either separately or bundled in the Buick Experience package. 

The active safety features make the Premium a very compelling upgrade from the Essence, especially given the relatively modest price increase that accompanies the upgrade. The upgraded Bose audio also makes the Premium a more cost-effective option for drivers who were already planning on selecting this option on the Essence model.

For drivers who do not feel strongly about the added active safety features though, the Essence model will make for a better buy as the Premium offers little aside from those that the Essence does not offer at a lower price point. 

Which Trim Level to Choose? 

The 2018 Buick Encore offers a fairly strong selection of trim levels compared to most other subcompact vehicles. Its base models are slightly more expensive than the competition, but offer an impressive set of features for the price point.

Depending on which model currently offers better deals and whether all-wheel drive is a requirement, either the 1SV or the Preferred are strong options for more value-minded buyers. The Sport Touring and Preferred II models offer buyers both a larger selection of features and the option of a more advanced engine, making them excellent mid-range values, while the Essence and Premium models both offer luxury-level quality and amenities significantly cheaper than dedicated luxury vehicles.

Depending on the kind of features that drivers are looking for, they can easily find a great Buick Encore model that matches their requirements. 

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