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Budding Buick Encore Crossover is stand-up act

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Budding Buick Encore Crossover is stand-up act

The 2013 Buick Encore crossover.

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POSTED June 26, 2013 11:50 p.m.

You don’t have to be a Buick believer to give a polite round of applause to the Encore.
The compact 2013 Encore crossover is a feature-rich alternative to a small, entry-luxury sedan. It is underpinned by General Motor’s new Global Small Crossover architecture. And it is the latest in a line of small cars from this enduring GM brand.
This small, five-door hatchback is technically a subcompact, but it’s larger inside than it looks. It has a raised ride height for command of the road visibility, nearly 40 inches of headroom, a flat-folding back seat for big cargo capacity and almost three feet of back seat legroom.
Encore is sold in four trim levels with one engine and transmission. Starting prices range from about $25,000 to $30,440. All-wheel drive adds $1,500 to any model.
The Premium tester was $31,475, including the $790 freight charge from Korea. Extras included navigation  and enhanced six-speaker audio system with a seven-inch color screen.
Standard features include a rearview camera, six-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, 10 air bags , 18-inch alloy wheels and six-speaker audio system with 7-inch color display screen.
Supporting the price are some desirable features, including a six-way power adjustable front passenger seat. So many mainstream manufacturers do not give height adjustment to the front passenger seat that Encore stands out as generous. Also reinforcing the investment is a good mix of color-matched materials, nicely stitched leather-trimmed upholstery and heated front seats.
Small cars  are a challenge to make comfortable, but this one includes a fold-down armrest for the driver. The cabin is roomy, entry and exit and comfortable with no dumb ergonomic designs. Sightlines are good, despite the smallish rear window. The rearview camera displayed on that large screen in the center console is easily viewed in all light conditions. Buick’s Intellilink system has good voice recognition for and my iPhone connected quickly.
Back seat occupants have plenty of footroom, but the center space is slim for three-across seating. All window seats have a grab handle and Buick does a good job of carving out little storage spaces throughout, including dual glove boxes.
With seats folded, this car becomes a hauler. The cargo area has about five feet of length through a 38-inch wide opening with about three feet from headliner to floor.
The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine has just 138 horsepower to muster about 3,200 pounds, but the 148-foot-pounds of torque peaks at a low 1,850 rpm. Power off the line is good and while there is plenty of cruising power it fades on long uphills.
The four-wheel disc brakes give strong and flat stopping power.
Fuel economy estimates are 25/33 mpg for city/highway, but I was getting 31.4 to 31.9 mpg in combined city and highway driving on regular unleaded. The EPA cites combined fuel economy of 28 mpg. And for commuters, the 14-gallon tank gives a broad cruising radius. The six-speed automatic is a good facilitator, giving well-timed shifts. A manual mode can be used to hold a gear, such as on that long incline or give some engine braking on the downhill.
Driver-aid technologies include forward collision alert, lane departure warning and cornering brake control, which can help regain control when entering a corner too fast and getting on the brakes too hard.
Ride quality is above average despite a fairly short wheelbase of 100.6 inches. The suspension can feel hard at times, giving some head toss when turning into driveways and angled entryways. But the highway ride is settled and quiet. The Encore gets Buick’s full treatment of QuietTuning for soundproofing and includes the brand’s first use of Bose Active Noise Cancellation.
The cute styling didn’t connect with me, but Encore is a stand-up act w

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