Car Review: 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium

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Buick has taken a major step forward by entering the small luxury crossover market with the all-new 2013 Buick Encore. In the U.S., sales of compact crossovers are expected to grow more than 360,000 units by 2015 as buyers’ needs and priorities evolve. While many luxury brands offer similarly sized vehicles in other countries, Buick is one of the first to offer one to U.S. consumers. We spent a week driving the 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium and now understand why this market is on a growth path.

EXTERIOR

The 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium might be considerably smaller than the traditional Buick vehicle, but there is no mistaking Encore for anything other than a Buick. Encore’s sculpted and elegant styling identifies it as a contemporary Buick. Signature cues include a waterfall grille, chrome accents and surrounds, portholes on the hood and painted lower panels. Standard body-color door handles with chrome strips and a styled, stainless steel exhaust tip add to the premium look. Blue-accented halogen composite projector-beam headlamps and detailed tail lamps further enhance the Encore exterior, and 18-inch, five-spoke painted aluminum wheels are standard. Seven-spoke chromed aluminum wheels were on our test Encore and they really elevated the appearance. Our test model also boasted deep tinted glass, outside heated and power adjustable body color mirrors, chrome door handles and roof rack with side rails.

INTERIOR

My first reaction after entering the cabin of the 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium was a bit of surprise at how much space was available for both the front and rear passengers. With room for five and up to 48.4 cubic feet (1,371 liters) of storage space with the rear seat folded, the Encore offers substantial cargo capacity along with its confident, higher driving position. Encore’s distinctive styling carries over to a flowing instrument panel that wraps naturally into the door panels. A prominent central instrument panel houses the seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color display for the standard IntelliLink voice-activated infotainment system. It also features displays for the SiriusXM satellite radio and standard rearview camera, as well as the GPS-enabled navigation system. An all-ebony or contemporary mix of dark and light tones distinguishes the cabin, which is accented with ice-blue ambient lighting, select use of bright chrome and wood grain trim.

Premium seats feature high-density foam for greater comfort on long drives. They are trimmed in either a contemporary cloth/leatherette or available premium leather. The 60/40 flat-folding rear seat features a fold-down armrest with cup holders. We were impressed by the comfort seating and upscale feel of the leather seats.

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