With the 2021 Buick Encore, this fan-favorite lineup continues the trend of providing a feature-rich experience at a value-friendly cost. This year’s iteration of the Encore is derived from last year’s offering, which was met with praise from fans and critics alike. For everyday purposes, it doesn’t get much better than the Encore when considering how robust the experience is as a whole.
Shopping for a Buick Encore is a straightforward process as there are two trims to select from along with one engine seen in both trims. The most robust safety features are reserved for the latter of the two trims, but both trims contain an infotainment center that’s worthy of mention. Additionally, the Buick Encore provides a generous amount of cargo space given its smaller form factor coupled with a lower price than many of its contemporaries. Starting with the base trim, which is simply the Encore, it has a starting MSRP of $23,200. Upping the ante a bit, you can opt for the Encore Preferred, which serves as the best of the two.
An Encore for the Engine
As previously mentioned, the 2021 Buick Encore utilizes the same engine in both two trims. This engine is the same turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder that has been a part of the lineup ever since its inception. With this engine, the 2021 Buick Encore gets 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, paired with the same 6-speed automatic transmission as before. You can get this model with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive if you are in need of a little more traction.
While the decision of Buick opting for this older engine may be disappointing to some, specifically those looking to upgrade their Encore, this engine still provides excellent everyday performance. Also, due to the turbocharged nature of this engine, it can achieve ample fuel-efficiency ratings for both city and highway travel. Notably, this engine gets EPA-estimated ratings of 25 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway with front-wheel drive, which many drivers are surely going to appreciate. However, it’s worth noting that opting for the available all-wheel drive configuration will slightly decrease these ratings to 24 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway.
A Feature-Rich Interior
Where the 2021 Buick Encore shines the brightest is within the interior. Regardless of which of the two trims you opt for, you’ll still be receiving the same infotainment center with a screen that rivals its competitors. Starting with the basics, the Encore can seat up to five passengers. Behind the rear-row, you’ll have 18.8 cu.ft. of space to store cargo; however, folding the seats down increases this 48.4 cu.ft.
Buick offers a few different cargo-size scenarios for the Encore, two of which are the previously mentioned figures. The next cargo-size scenarios include folding down two of the rear seats, ultimately allowing three passengers. Lastly, the next configuration allows you to fold down each seat in your vehicle except your driver’s seat for the utmost cargo space. Both trims also come with a 6-way power-adjustable driver seat allowing you to easily find your most comfortable driving position.
The Buick Encore is packed with connectivity and entertainment systems. Many of the features you’ll find standard on the Encore are typically not a guaranteed inclusion at this price range, but they’re here, and they’re stellar. Among these included features is an infotainment center that hosts an impressive 8-inch touch screen. A screen this size sits firmly in the middle between the smaller 5 to 7-inch screens seen in many of its competitors and the larger tablet-like screens found in more expensive models. An 8-inch screen seems to be the sweet-spot for plenty of infotainment users as it allows them to reach parts of the screen with ease and see the contents of the screen.
Another inclusion that we’re excited to see is a standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. The reasoning to acquire a personal hotspot in the modern day is becoming increasingly clear, and passengers can benefit from its inclusion along with the driver. By integrating a hotspot into your vehicle, you’ll have an internet connection that is both reliable and quick. You don’t have to worry about burning through your data plan or consistently losing coverage with a hotspot.
Even more impressive is the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Much like the previously mentioned tech features, several of Encore’s competitors often disregard these features entirely or reserve them for hefty premiums. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are so well regarded by fans because of their simplicity and effectiveness. To get started, all you need is an infotainment center that supports Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto, like the Encore, and an iPhone or Android device.
Connecting to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is usually done through a USB connection, which the Encore has built into the interior. Once you’re connected, your infotainment center will begin to resemble your phone’s software, meaning you should have no problem navigating the menus. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can do turn-by-turn navigation, listen to your entire music library, and even utilize voice-commands. These voice commands are performed through Siri and Google Assistant, and with them, you can send text messages, send and receive phone calls, and much more. In addition to all of these exciting features, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have app stores where you can further the functionality of this bustling feature set.
Although the base Encore provides an array of helpful safety features, you’ll want to purchase the Preferred trim for the remainder. Both trims fit 10 airbags throughout the cabin, and both come with a rearview camera that displays onto the infotainment center. An electronic stability control system, known as Stabilitrak, is included regardless of the trim level you purchase. Stabilitrak is designed to give you more traction control when traveling on icy, wet, snowy, or uneven road surfaces, and it will automatically intervene when it senses the car losing traction.
Should you purchase the Preferred trim, new options become available to you. For starters, you can add a forward collision alert which will audibly notify you if you’re approaching a vehicle too fast to avoid a collision. Lane departure warning is also available on the Preferred trim, which is another alert system that will notify you if it detects your vehicle is shifting lanes unintentionally. Both front and rear park assist are available on this trim as well. With these park assists, your vehicle can determine if you’re approaching an obstructing object and alert you while you’re parking, whether it’s in drive or reverse. Lastly, blind zone alert is available with this trim, notifying you of any vehicles approaching your blind zone to increase your spatial awareness.
Overall, we enjoy what we see with the 2021 Buick Encore. Whether you want a subcompact SUV for the fuel efficiency, cargo space, or the incredible array of tech-centric features, the Encore has something for everyone. Given Encore’s starting price, you’d be hard-pressed to do any better in the market. Buick deserves recognition for its willingness to push the boundaries of what we can expect from a value-oriented SUV at a technological level.