Debuting in 2013, the Buick Encore is essentially unchanged in the 2015 model year. But what’s new will excite the smartphone/tablet/laptop crowd as the 2015 version provides OnStar with 4G LTE and a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. That means the driver and riders have a mobile connection hub whenever the car is on. Beyond the connectivity feature, this small crossover utility vehicle has a luxury cabin with elegant materials and easy-to-reach control points. During a one-week test drive, Encore showed off a dandy column-mounted, variable-effort electric power steering system. It’s a nice compliment to a vehicle dynamics approach that’s centered around a single tire and wheel combination (18-inch wheels/tires).
Powering Buick Encore is a 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder that releases 138 horsepower at 4900 rpm and 148 pounds-feet of torque at 1850 rpm. The engine mates to a six- speed automatic transmission. While the powertrain didn’t elicit acceleration-rich delivery at highway speeds during the week long test, the engine/transmission combination handles most situations just fine. Encore is available in front wheel drive and all wheel drive. The 100.6-inch wheelbase crossover utility is sold in four trim levels: base, Convenience, Leather, and Premium. Encore AWD Premium carries a MSRP of $30,935 and collects estimated fuel economy of 23 city/30 highway.