The Buick Encore first debuted in 2012 at the North American International Auto Show and hit showrooms toward the end of the same year. The Encore is the North American variant of the German-made Opel Mokka. It’s the first subcompact crossover SUV from Buick and the fourth SUV overall. U.S. News recently listed the 2020 Buick Encore among its list of “The Best New SUVs Under $25,000 in 2021.” This goes to show that a decent SUV doesn’t have to be expensive.
The 2020 Buick Encore a comfortable and high-quality interior
With an MSRP starting at $23,200, the 2020 Buick Encore tends to be more expensive than most subcompact crossovers in its class. However, with certain cash allowances, you could end up way below $25,000. Not only does the base trim offer nice standard features, but its predicted reliability ratings are satisfactory. The Encore is an SUV well-suited for buyers who must have high-grade interior quality, ultra-comfortable seats, and a posh ride without the posh price tag.
But if power and speed are included on your list of “must-haves,” you had better rethink your budget because it pretty much ends with interior comforts.
U.S. News stated that, for a subcompact SUV, its cabin has plenty of room for four adults to sit comfortably. On top of that, you get 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and over 48 cubic feet behind the first row.
For child car seats, the Encore has two complete sets of LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) connectors for both rear outboard seats; the rear middle seat has a tether anchor. The LATCH system received a rating of Acceptable from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)—the second-highest rating.
Some standard tech features include smartphone connectivity, an 8-inch touch screen, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming, SiriusXM radio, and a six-speaker audio system. You can expect additional standard interior features such as a six-way power driver seat, front bucket seats, dual glove compartments, a 4.2-inch diagonal color driver information center, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, among other things.
Buick Encore trim levels and prices
The Buick website lists the standard vehicle price at $23,200. However, once taxes and fees are calculated, you end up with a “net price” of $24,195. It also groups the front-wheel-drive (FWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) Preferred trims together. With the FWD 1SV (base) trim, it results in two trims instead of three. Buick lists the Select and Essence trims under the 2020 Encore GX. The Encore GX is a completely separate model, which makes it strange that some major review sites have listed them as four trim packages.
This might be confusing to some since some sites have various trims listed. Apparently, Buick considers the Preferred one trim no matter what drivetrain you choose. The FWD Preferred trim has a net price of $25,595 but could drop as low as $20,345 after total cash allowances. The AWD Preferred trim has a net price of $26,215 but could be as low as $20,965 after cash allowances.
Each trim comes with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Buick doesn’t offer any other engine type with the Encore, no matter the trim level. This isn’t surprising since the price variation isn’t significant. The engine produces 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.
Even for a compact crossover SUV, it gets fairly good fuel efficiency. The FWD model gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway; the AWD model gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
Each trim level comes standard with 18-inch machined-face alloy wheels. The Preferred trim offers optional 18-inch 5-split-spoke aluminum alloy wheels with a Midnight Silver finish. They come with all-season Blackwall tires as well. The 2020 Buick Encore offers numerous other options such as a power moon roof, a “Road Trip Package,” roof rack cross rails, an accessory carrier hitch, and several other options.
The 2020 Buick Encore isn’t for everyone
The 2020 Buick Encore is a perfect entry-level subcompact crossover SUV for young families or even singles on a budget. Nevertheless, a number of buyers may not find it compatible with their needs or expectations. Firstly, the lack of horsepower stands out above anything else. Secondly, if you were to shop around a bit, you’re likely to discover that the 2020 Buick Encore has an above-average starting price.
For around $5,000 more, you could upgrade to the nicer Encore GX. The higher trims offer a lot more in terms of standard features. The Encore GX offers a second optional powertrain with a 1.3-liter 155-hp turbo engine. It’s even more fuel-efficient, with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
Lastly, the Buick Encore still lags behind its rivals when it comes to standard safety features. A rearview camera is the only standard driver assistance feature provided with this supposedly modern crossover. An example of a competitor that offers a lot more for the same price is the Hyundai Kona; it has lots of driver-assist safety features and also costs under $25,000. Our advice is to shop around before settling on the 2020 Buick Encore.