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What’s New for 2018?
The 2018 Buick Encore is almost identical to the outgoing 2017 model. In fact, Buick has not done a full redesign of the Encore since it was released in 2013, instead making incremental improvements such as a new engine option in 2016 and an infotainment upgrade last year. This year includes slight tweaks to the car’s fuel door and the addition of an air ionizer to the Premium model, but otherwise is identical to last year’s offering.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2018 Buick Encore – The Pros
1. Best Interior in the Class
By the virtue of being in the subcompact class, most of the competitors against whom the 2018 Buick Encore is competing are mass-market value cars, whose interiors tend to be dominated by hard plastics and other low-rent materials. In contrast, the Encore’s interior is exactly what one would expect for a Buick - high quality and nicely put together.
2. Attractive Conventional Styling
Because most design elements are tailored to larger vehicles, designing a good-looking subcompact car without resorting to gimmicks can be difficult. The exterior of the Buick Encore is one of the success stories, with all of the traditional SUV features like large bumpers and an aggressive grille all present, albeit on a smaller scale. Compared to the more outlandish designs in the segment, such as that of the Nissan Juke or the Toyota C-HR, it is a breath of fresh air.
3. Perfect Size
The Buick Encore manages to deliver great utility without overflowing its sub-compact footprint. There is space for four adult passengers to fit into the car comfortably, and even with the second row up the crossover offers 19 cubic feet of cargo space, which is bigger than many compact cars’ trunks. Those that want a subcompact but are afraid that it might be too small for their needs would do well to check the Encore out.
4. Near-silent Cabin
Small vehicles usually score badly when it comes to noise insulation, but the 2018 Encore not only uses acoustic glass, but also active noise insulation to keep the cabin nice and quiet even at highway speeds. That is almost impossible to find among the rest of the subcompacts on the market today.
5. Strong Optional Engine
The base engine of the 2018 Buick Encore is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four cylinder that performs on par with most other cars in the segment at 138 horsepower, but its optional tuned up version delivers a very spirited performance. Available on the Sport Touring model and up, it raises the output to 153 horsepower, giving the car a very noticeable boost and making it very fun to drive.
6. Excellent Maneuverability
The Buick Encore makes the most of its small size to deliver a very satisfying driving experience. Large wheels and a good suspension give the car good agility through turns, while the large steering wheel with good feedback makes it easy to control. In most driving situations, it is easy to forget that it is actually a subcompact SUV and not a sporty sedan.
7. Good Equipment
Even the base 2018 Buick Encore has plenty of standard features, and the higher trim lines offer plenty of value for the price. The base model comes standard with an 8-inch infotainment touch screen, a rearview camera and a Wi-Fi hotspot, among other features, while the top-of-the-line Premium can offer you power heated leather seating and premium Bose audio for well below the starting price of most compact luxury vehicles.
8. Intuitive Infotainment
Last year’s upgrade to the infotainment system as a huge step forward for the Encore, significantly improving its responsiveness and making it easy to just jump into using. The fact that it comes standard with full smartphone app integration for both Apple and Android phones is only icing on the proverbial infotainment cake.
9. Excellent Crash Test Scores
The 2018 Buick Encore has done well in both federal and industry crash tests, making it an outstanding choice for safety in its class. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Encore a five-star rating, and it earned top scores on all of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests as well.
10. Luxury Branding
Buick is a luxury brand, which gives the Encore some additional cachet as an upscale vehicle. With almost no other luxury cars available in the same size or price range, the Buick badging gives the Encore an aura of exclusivity over its rivals.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2018 Buick Encore – The Cons
1. High Price Point
The Encore is one of the most expensive cars in its class, especially when equipped with optional equipment. While it offers a lot for its cost, many shoppers look for a subcompact precisely because of their low price point, causing them to rule out the Encore.
2. Design Showing Its Age
Automakers typically do a full redesign on their vehicles every four to six years, and the 2018 Buick Encore finds itself at the longer range of that cycle. That not only means that it lacks some of the newer technology, but also that a significantly improved model will probably be released in the next several years.
3. Some Advanced Safety Features Missing
The 2018 Buick Encore does not offer either active lane control or automatic pre-collision braking, which puts it at a slight disadvantage with regards to safety in spite of its excellent crash test scores. Buyers who need the latest safety technology will find this model lacking.
How It Stacks up to the Competition:
The 2018 Buick Encore competes primarily against other compact SUVs, where is pulls ahead of them thanks to its excellent material quality, deep features list and an upscale ambiance. The Mazda CX-3 is an excellent sporty alternative that offers a slightly more engaging ride than the Encore and is slightly cheaper, but it is equipped with lower quality materials and does not have anywhere near as much nice equipment as the Encore does. The BMW X1 is also sportier than the Encore, but its entry-level models fall far short of the Buick’s feature set, while still being significantly more expensive.
The 2018 Buick Encore is an excellent and unique vehicle in the growing subcompact field. Offering an excellent alternative to the more entry-level subcompact vehicles, it offers great value thanks to its features and its luxury-car ambiance. Those looking for a premium vehicle in a subcompact size will find it a perfect choice.
• Why buy a 2017 Buick Encore? w/ pros vs cons