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2021 Buick Encore Review: Expected Changes, Price, Trims, Features, MPG, and Rivals

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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist

July 09, 2020 at 10:28 AM

The 2021 Buick Encore plays safe with the segment it wants to conquer. It’s a crossover that is neither too mainstream nor too luxurious. It's playing in between these two attributes. But then, this is a rival to mainstream crossovers like Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Hyundai Kona, and all of them are still better than Encore in some or the other way. Powering the Encore is a small 1.4L turbo-4 engine that churns out 138-hp. We hope that the 2021 Encore will offer a plush interior with updated convenience features and safety equipment. Let's check a thorough analysis of the new Encore before arriving towards a conclusion.

The Smallest and affordable crossover SUV in Buick’s stable – Encore has been always a successful model. Be it a mature audience or the younger generations, Buick has found its place in the list of potential contenders. But this aura is looking to phase out in the shadow of 2021 Encore GX. Both vehicles do have similar names but they are entirely different cars. Encore GX is an all-new model and does not relate to this old Encore. It is more stylish, larger, spacious & comes with an enhanced safety equipment list. This is a smaller SUV in comparison, even though it mimics the specifications of larger Buick – Enclave. 

Even though the Encore is the compact and cheapest SUV on the Buick’s table, it still manages to feel upmarket with just a slight touch of cheap plastic parts. Else, the cabin is extremely good looking, refined, and well laid out. Seats have been given an upholstery which is a mixture of cloth and leatherette. It's also not the quickest or sharpest of the competition but the technology it has is simply excellent. The market buzz is that the Encore will have features like the advanced infotainment system, StabiliTrak, quiet tuning tech with active noise cancellation, which will make people curious about it.

What’s New?

  • New exterior paint shades
  • Available in two trims- 1SV and Preferred
  • Preferred trim now gets two additional safety packages along with AWD

What’s the expected price and release date of the 2021 Buick Encore?

The expected price for 2021 Buick Encore could possibly remain unchanged with a minor increase over the outgoing models starting price of  $23,200. If you want to go with all options Encore has to offer, you will be offered the Preferred trim, which will set you back by $24,600 and the AWD option on Preferred trim’s MSRP is $26,100. These price tags for a crossover SUV which is for a premium side and it's too much less compared to the pricing of cars like  Volvo XC40 or Audi Q3 or MB GLA.The2021 Buick Encore is set to hit the dealerships by June 2020. 

What to expect in the engine department?

The 2021 Encore will miss the extra oomph of the previous generation’s more powerful optional engines. It would now only be available with a small 1.4L turbo-4 engine and will produce only 138-hp. It won’t be an enthusiastic car but will do almost all the jobs easily. To rouse the Encore, you should go flat-out on the accelerator but then you will hear the engine’s noise.

Buick's 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 unit

The Buick has done an excellent job by making Encore really comfortable and quiet – we should give Buick applause. Even though the Chevy Trax does share the powertrain and the platform and the chassis, the Encore is plusher, calm, composed & quiet – thanks to its extra insulation, suspension tuning, and active noise cancellation.

Models

2021 Buick Encore (Expected)

2020 Mazda CX-3

2020 Honda HR-V

MSRP

$23,200

$22,040

$23,970

Engine

1.4-Liter Turbocharged Inline-4

2-Liter Naturally Aspirated Inline-4

1.8-Liter Naturally Aspirated Inline-4

Drivetrain

FWD

AWD

FWD

Transmission

6-speed automatic

6-speed automatic

Continuously Variable-speed with Overdrive

Power 

138 hp @ 4900 rpm

148 hp@ 6000 rpm

141 hp @ 6500 rpm

Torque 

148 hp@ 1850 rpm

146 hp@ 2800 rpm

127 hp @ 4300 rpm

If we compare the Encore with its rivals, the power figure is on the lowest side but its quite clear that it has the highest torque. The performance is adequate on the open roads and the city traffic but it would not thrill you and encourage you to go flat on the accelerator.

How does the 2021 Buick Encore handle?

The Encore is as easy to drive as anything. The steering is spot on, the braking is responsive, the tight turning radius is something which is excellent for this car. The driving position is a bit high which helps to get the outer vision pretty clear and the ride height is set up in such a way so that the entry and exit are very easy. Further, the small size of this SUV makes it pretty simple to park, even in the tightest of the spots.

Even though the steering is nice and precise, the car still handles exactly like how you'd expect from a crossover. It rolls around in corners and one can easily feel the same inside the cabin. However, the Encore is not meant to be driven hard around corners, it is supposed to be comfortable on the highway carrying your family and it is absolutely tremendous at doing so.

How many miles to the gallon will the 2021 Buick Encore deliver?

The fuel economy of Baby Buick is not something you will brag about. Its rivals do have better fuel economy but what makes it stand apart is the fact that the fuel capacity of the Buick is highest in the segment. The fuel economy for this car is “OK”, as it delivers 26 MPG in the city but opt for AWD, and this goes down to 25MPG. These numbers are decent, not excellent for this segment.

But the larger fuel tank capacity of 14 gallons makes this car a perfect tourer. This shows that despite having average MPG figures, Encore could travel and cover more distances. It is also more eco friendly of the lot with only 6.3 tons of Co2 emission per year which is a good thing for the environment.

Model

2021 Buick Encore (Expected)

2020 Mazda CX-3

2020 Honda HR-V

MPG(City)

26

27

28

MPG(Hwy)

30

32

34

MPG (combined)

28

29

30

Fuel capacity (gallons)

14

12.7

13.2

Range (City/ Highway/ Combined) (miles)

350/420/378

317/406/342

369/448/396

Rivals do have the lower capacities of the fuel tank but due to lower fuel economy, Buick Encore sits in between the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 in the travel range rivalry. A having better range will result in fewer gas stops hence saving you time and effort.

How comfortable is the Buick Encore’s interior?

For 2021, Buick has received some delicate yet significant changes inside. These tweaks are done only to tell the customers that Buick Encore still has what it takes to be on the buying options by offering a lot. The Buick Encore has the shortest wheelbase in the segment but its space management is something which will wow you. The dashboard is well laid out, seats are comfortable and the cabin is spacious and 3 abreast in the rear is a breeze.

Buick Encore's dashboard design

The Cabin is a bit on a narrow side but the use of space is excellent. The controls are well laid out and easy to see and use. Even though the Encore has smaller dimensions, the cargo space on offer is average for the segment which is measured at 18.8 cu-ft. behind the rear seats. Once you fold the rear seats, there is humongous space, just like a large sedan – 48.4 cu-ft. Party trick is the fact that even the front passenger seat also folds down to enable you to carry longer items.

Models

2021 Buick Encore (Expected)

2020 Mazda CX-3

2020 Honda HR-V

Seating capacity

5

5

5

Front row (headroom/shoulder-room/legroom) (in)

39.6/54.2/40.8

38.4/53.5/41.7

37.6/56.8/41.2

Rear row (headroom/shoulder-room/legroom) (in)

38.8/52.5/35.8

37.2/50.4/35.0

38.3/54.5/39.3

Trunk Capacity (Cubic Feet)

18.8

17.8

24.3

The interior space is a little bit complex in Encore. It does offer a great shoulder room at the back but has only a decent amount of legroom for the rear passengers. At 24.3 cu-ft, Honda HR-V does have an advantage for the cargo space but once you fold down the rear seats, it’s the Encore, which will stand out due to excellent use of space.

2021 Buick Encore: Infotainment and Connectivity

Buick Encore has been known to have a cluttered infotainment system which added to its misery. But not in 2021, as it might receive an upgraded 8-inch touch screen entertainment system and might have voice assistance and would take the convenience and versatility to the next level.

Buick Encore's infotainment display

Further standard features for 2021 Encore includes a connected tech with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Compatibility, a trial version of Sirius XM satellite radio, 7-speaker Bose premium sound system will be added. Also, from now on Encore will also come with built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, some additional USB ports, and an aux input jack.

Can the 2021 Buick Encore's looks entice buyers?  

The stance of 2021 Encore is a bit upright and raised and has dimensions that are smaller than some of the hatchbacks.  This is something that may lure those customers with small garages or drivers who regularly struggle to park their vehicles in tight spots.  

The 2021 Encore looks like a hatchback went to the gym, had steroids, and came back muscular, but sleek. The exterior is sculpted with athletic lines and the angle looks on this SUV will definitely draw the attention. The lines on the hood do give it an aerodynamic look and the signature lights do give it matured yet simple looks.

The Encore has also received changes in its dimensions, which has been reduced. It houses the shortest wheelbase in the segment yet it has a minimal effect on the interior space. The fluent lines on the exterior with the beltline neatly integrating into the rear tail lights.

Models

2021 Buick Encore (Expected)

2020 Mazda CX-3

2020 Honda HR-V

Curb weight (Ibs.)

3237

2994

2959

Length(in)

168.4

169

170.4

Width(in)

70.1

69.7

69.8

Height(in)

65.3

60.7

63.3

Ground clearance(in)

6.2

6.1

7.3

Wheelbase(in)

100.6

101.2

102.8

If we look at the dimensions of Encore, it is the shortest of the lot with 168.4 inches in length. But it’s the widest car in its category which helps in accommodating passengers more comfortably. The proportions of the Encore are somewhere in between which will help drive this vehicle pretty effortless.

Will the 2021 Buick Encore be worth my money?

The 2021 Encore will definitely turn your heads around if you are out to buy a compact crossover SUV. The reported specs and the feature list for 2021 Buick Encore make sure that the new one will be more desirable than ever. Considering all aspects, we would recommend you to look at the alternatives before buying and would strongly recommend looking into Encore GX, launched in 2020, which is an entirely different breed of Encore.

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