2018 Buick Encore Expert Review

4.0 Overall Score
Performance 4.0 Comfort 4.1 Styling 4.2 Value 4.1

Editor's Overview

The 2018 Buick Encore delivers upscale features and style in a compact-crossover SUV as attractive to first-time buyers as it is longtime Buick devotees looking to downsize. Sharing its platform with the Chevrolet Trax, the Encore plays in the same segment as the Mini Countryman and Jeep Renegade Limited.

You'll Like The 2018 Buick Encore If...

Looking to downsize but still want full-size luxury, comfort and amenities? The 2018 Buick Encore may be exactly what you’re looking for. Excellent fuel-economy figures and loads of high-tech options further bolster a case for this little Buick.

You May Not Like The 2018 Buick Encore If...

Though priced slightly higher than the Kia Soul, Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-3, most will find the Encore delivers a lot of car for the money. Those needing maximum space in a small-crossover SUV will be happier shopping a Subaru Crosstrek, Honda CR-V or Jeep Compass.

What's New

For 2018 the compact Buick Encore SUV gains an ionizing interior air filter, capless fuel fill and HD radio.

Interior Features

The interior of Buick’s compact Encore SUV shows significant thought went into both its design and detail. An 8-inch color touch screen moves from atop the dash to the center stack, while the larger gauge cluster includes a 4.2-inch driver-information screen. Whether rendered in cloth and Leatherette or available leather, the cabin offers room for five with a 60/40-split rear bench that accommodates two average-sized adults plus a kid in the center spot. A large hatch provides easy access to its 18.8-cubic-foot cargo bay, which expands to 48.4 cubic feet with the aft seatbacks folded.

Exterior Features

From its handsome winged grille and sculpted hood to the stylish 18-inch alloy wheels, the Encore compact SUV for 2018 puts a contemporary spin on each of these elements to create a package that’s skewed toward a more youthful, progressive mind-set. The Encore’s highly sculpted bodywork and a tasteful assortment of bright accent bits are effectively set off by prominent LED-accented projector-beam headlights and LED-infused taillights. Brushed-aluminum faux rear skidplates and a wide wheel/tire package add a bit more aggressive flair to the overall mix.

Driving Impressions

Using the best of GM’s global architecture to its advantage, the 2018 Buick Encore delivers a world-class driving experience that belies its small size. The Encore’s European-derived suspension has been adjusted to suit American tastes without giving up much in the way of direct feedback, agile handling and adept cornering. If there’s one weak spot in the Encore’s performance, however, it can be found under the hood. The 1.4-liter Ecotec engine is turbocharged for added get-up-and-go, but once additional passengers start piling in, the little engine begins to bog down. Optional all-wheel drive adds even more weight, but its added traction makes it a must-have for anyone enduring regular run-ins with Old Man Winter. For an additional $900, buyers can upgrade to a slightly more powerful version of the 1.4, but only on the Sport Touring and higher trims. Fuel-economy figures for both engines are near the top of its class.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2018 Buick Encore starts around $24,000. Moving up the line, the Encore Preferred opens around $25,360, the Sport Touring at $26,560, the Preferred II at $27,800, the Essence just over $30,000 and finally the Premium at just a hair north of $31,500. AWD will add $1,500, and a fully loaded top-line Encore will hit the street close to $35,000. Although not the lowest priced among competitors, the Encore does become a far more compelling value when you factor in its extensive roster of standard features and low 5-Year Cost to Own. The Encore’s resale values are better than the Fiat 500L, on par with the Chevrolet Trax but still below the Mini Cooper Countryman, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade and Kia Soul. To make your best deal on a 2018 Buick Encore, check our Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.

Notable Equipment

The well-equipped Encore Preferred has air conditioning, Buick IntelliLink telematics with an 8-inch touch screen, a tilt/telescoping steering column, cruise control, a power driver’s seat, push-button start, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot and a rearview camera. The Sport Touring gains fog lights and a rear spoiler, while the Encore Preferred II adds dual-zone climate control, remote starting and fog lights and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The Encore Essence adds leather trim, heated front bucket seats/steering wheel, a power passenger seat and LED headlights. The top-line Encore Premium boasts Bose audio, front/rear park assist and Forward Collision Alert/Lane Departure Warning.

Notable Options

Largely prepackaged within its trim hierarchy, Buick’s 2018 Encore does offer several individual extras. All but the base and Preferred trims can be fitted with the more powerful 153-horsepower engine. Other options offered include GPS-enabled navigation system, a power sunroof, an oil-pan heater and 18-inch chrome-alloy wheels as well as the 7-speaker premium Bose Audio system -- which is already included in the Encore Premium.

Favorite Features


In keeping with Buick’s exacting standards for interior quiet, the Encore comes with Active Noise Cancellation that uses the car’s speakers to send out sound-cancelling sound waves. Ample insulation and Buick’s Quiet Tuning engineering combine to make the Encore one of the quietest small SUVs on the road.


Offering maximum traction in any weather situation, the Encore’s Active On-Demand all-wheel drive works by detecting wheel slip and routing power to the wheel or wheels with the best traction. When not needed, the Encore reverts to front-drive mode which helps maximize fuel economy.

Under the Hood

Every version of the Buick Encore compact-crossover SUV for 2018, whether front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), shares the same basic powertrain, although higher trims can be upgraded with direct-injection technology for an added 15 horsepower. The engine is GM’s familiar 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec 4-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque (153 horsepower/177 lb-ft in upgraded). Here, it’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that features manual-style shifting capabilities via a lever-mounted rocker switch on front-drive Encore models. The combination yields respectable acceleration and impressive EPA figures for a vehicle of its type. To complement its mileage-maxing prowess, the engine is designed to run on regular gasoline, not the premium grade required by some of the Encore’s chief rivals.

1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (base, Preferred)

138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm

148 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850-4,900 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/33 mpg (FWD), 26/31 mpg (AWD)

1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Opt. Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence and Premium)

153 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm

177 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (FWD), 24/30 mpg (AWD)

Editors' Notes

The 2018 Buick Encore delivers upscale features and style in a compact-crossover SUV as attractive to first-time buyers as it is longtime Buick devotees looking to downsize. Sharing its platform with the Chevrolet Trax, the Encore plays in the same segment as the Mini Countryman and Jeep Renegade Limited. Some might even compare it to small-luxury-crossover SUVs like the Infiniti QX30. While interior space is not huge, there’s good legroom front and rear plus a modest cargo area. The Encore’s optional all-wheel drive alleviates winter-road-trip worries, and in good weather helps improve handling on dry pavement. The Encore also recently garnered a top spot on KBB’s Best Compact Crossover 5-Year Cost to Own list.

Road Test Video Reviews

2018 Buick Encore Owner Reviews

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The Insights on the 2018 Buick Encore: Problems and Experiences

2018 Buick Encore Sport Touring

The car is very reliable. I only have had a few problems so far. The car keeps shaking above 75 mph and I took it to a dealer but it still is shaking. The car had another problem where the all wheel drive sensor kept saying the all wheel drive was bad and was constantly beeping on my drive home one day. The sensor was bad and when I took it in because the car died they changed the battery and said they had to order a part. The car died after one more time. The seats are uncomfortable and I find it hard to sit up straight. The angle is weird and the seats are hard. I love the screen and all the compartments in there. There's an armrest for the driver which I extremely love. The lumbar support on the driver's seat is very beneficial and I use it a lot. I like the control systems to change between my oil and tire pressure. I like the middle cup holder in the backseat it is smart and not in the way ever. It comes down from the middle seat if you need it; The glove box is huge and fits a lot in it which is nice. I overall love the car.

- Arianna T

Great vehicle, with a few issues.

2018 Buick Encore Sport Touring

This vehicle has many features and is easy to drive. My favorite feature is that I can check the tire pressure with the flick of my wrist. I live in an area with terrible roads, and it's something I rely on every time I hit a pothole. The trunk storage space is not ideal for more than one person. My groceries each week barely fit, and a recent trip with my friend to Florida had us grateful we didn't have anyone else riding with us, because there would have been no room. The lift-gate is not automatic, and the option is not available on this model. At first I didn't think it mattered, but I've found myself wishing for it several times since purchasing one year ago. My main complaint, however, is the headrests on the seats. They are angled forward and I find riding for long distances exceptionally uncomfortable. I drive 3 hours a day for work, so by the end of the day my neck is so sore I can't stand the pain. Aside from those things, however, this is a wonderful vehicle, at a very reasonable price.

- Lindsey S

Buick Encore for a small family is recommended

2018 Buick Encore Base

SUV type vehicle for a small family. Controls are easy to learn and use. Seats are comfortable. Gas mileage is amazing. Not a great choice for travel with family since there isn't much room for storage. A rear facing car seat fits but the seats in front of it has to be all the way forward, not leaving much leg room for the occupants. You can see all this from looking at the vehicle so there is no surprise about how much room is available. Driving on the freeway/ expressways are great. Speed acceleration is good. Has cruise control. There are a few blind spots that you need to be aware of. Nothing to bad and I am an overly cautious driver. Vehicle also equipped with backup camera. Hands free /Bluetooth controls. Overall worth it!

- Katie M

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