Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Within the Encore’s compact body lies an interior that is very nearly premium save for a few missteps. There are some hard plastics in the door panels and lower center console, and the glossy black trim on the center stack of our test vehicle didn’t match the glossy gray panels on the doors. However, soft-touch sections on the armrests and dash pad provide a more upscale atmosphere; the flush-mounted infotainment touchscreen and jewel-colored background accents help, too. The front-seat layout is quite good, with controls that are straightforward and redundant knobs on the dash for climate controls. We appreciated the high seating and comfortable driving position, but larger drivers may find the seat bottom too narrow.
The Encore’s talents as a utility vehicle start and end with a good performance in our carry-on test: It held 20 of our suitcases with the rear seats folded. Otherwise, the little Buick’s interior measurements, difficult-to-fold rear seat, and class-average storage space for small items do little to impress.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Unfortunately, the Encore no longer offers the 153-hp version of the 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine; for 2020, the only engine available is the underpowered 138-hp engine. We haven’t tested an Encore with the base 138-hp engine, but the Buick’s corporate twin, the Chevrolet Trax, comes with this engine exclusively and it delivered a leisurely result of 9.3 seconds.
With the passengers sitting high atop a short wheelbase, the Encore has a more top-heavy feel than lower-set rivals such as the Mazda CX-3, and as a result, the Encore leans more heavily in corners. Steering is well-weighted if not particularly engaging, but it’s accurate and will be agreeable for buyers seeking a comfort-oriented small crossover. Speaking of comfort, the Encore’s suspension soaks up bumps admirably, and harsh impacts are dutifully dampened.