Buick encore 2014

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2014 Buick Encore

Eric Tallberg

Celebrating its second year in production, the 2014 Buick Encore might not be particularly quick, but its pint-size dimensions make it ideal for traffic- and parking-challenged city dwellers. This 5-place compact crossover can also tote some 48.4 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded—a bit more when the standard front folding passenger seatback is down and, with a boatload of standard features, it’ll get the harried commuter back and forth to work in more than a mere semblance of luxury. However, despite a turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant, this little ute’s highway performance may present some merging and passing issues.

In any case, the latest Encore iteration comes in 4 trims, the base Encore, the midlevel Convenience Group, the self-titled Leather Group and the flagship Premium Group. All trims come with standard front-wheel drive (FWD), but in keeping with tradition, all are also available with weather-taming all-wheel drive (AWD). Additionally, 2014 sees the Encore eligible for an optional blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alerts.

Should a little more pop in performance be desired for about the same MSRP, potential crossover owners might want to check out Fiat’s neat 500L, MINI’s funky Cooper S Countryman or Nissan’s cute Juke.

Anyhow, a 138-hp, variable-valve-timed (VVT), turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine remains standard in this crossover lineup, with the sole transmission offering a 6-speed shiftable automatic that maintains 148 lb-ft of torque. Look for those trims with standard FWD to get 25 mpg city/33 highway, while AWD-equipped versions are estimated at 23/30. The available AWD system, by the way, allows the 2014 Encore to cruise in FWD in normal conditions, but will automatically and instantaneously shift torque from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip, front or rear, when roads get slippery.

Standard appearance features in the Base trim include 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack and heated power-adjustable mirrors. Inside, this entry-level trim sports vinyl and cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat (with power lumbar support), a fold-flat front passenger seatback and full power accessories, not to mention leather, simulated wood and simulated alloy cabin accents. Cruise control is also standard, as are telescoping tilt-wheel steering, a rear-view camera, front and rear floor mats and manually adjustable air conditioning. Techno-wise, standard OnStar Directions and Connections service is complemented by Bluetooth hands-free communications, while a single-CD player with 6 speakers, satellite radio and a USB connection provides the tunes. Finally, GM’s touted IntelliLink technology is standard as well, and interfaces with audio and communications to display settings and options on a 7-inch touchscreen display, as well as providing smartphone apps.

Moving up to the Convenience Group begets all of the above, as well as remote keyless entry with remote engine start, not to mention dual-zone climate control with Sun Sensor technology, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a 120-volt power port.

The upscale Enclave Leather Group, as its name implies, boasts standard leather upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, memory for driver’s settings and a heated steering wheel, while the top-shelf Premium Group throws in upgraded Bose premium audio (optional in Convenience and Leather) with 7 speakers, front and rear parking sensors, and standard cargo netting and floor mat.

As for options, lower Encore trims are eligible for a number of items found standard in higher trims, while upgraded chrome wheels, a power sunroof, GPS navigation and roof-rail crossbars are all additionally available, depending on trim.

Standard safety equipment aboard all 2014 Encore trims includes 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, and front and rear head airbags. Also standard are daytime running lights, OnStar emergency assistance and communications, a post-collision safety system and a remote antitheft alarm. Additionally, the Convenience Group and higher trims boast standard front fog/driving lights, while the Premium Group sports rain-sensing wipers and a forward collision alert system. Finally, a new-for-2014 blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alerts is optional for the Convenience Group and higher trims.

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