- Pros: city-friendly size, upscale interior, versatile cargo space
- Cons: underpowered, limited rear-seat legroom
The 2013 Buick Encore is a small luxury SUV that offers an upscale experience in a compact package. It’s often lauded for its comfortable, plush interior, and agile handling, which makes it an excellent choice for urban commuters. The Encore’s smaller dimensions also mean you can often find parking spots that would be a challenge for larger SUVs. With a versatile cargo area and standard 60/40-split folding rear seats, you get a good amount of utility despite its compact size.
However, the Encore has its downsides. One of the most commonly cited issues is a lack of power. The standard four-cylinder engine doesn’t provide much get-up-and-go, especially when the little Buick is fully loaded. While the Encore is easy to navigate through tight city streets, its power limitations become evident on the highway. Additionally, some taller passengers may find the rear seats a bit too cozy.
- First model year of the Encore, launching Buick’s entry into the subcompact SUV market
- Four-cylinder power with optional all-wheel drive (AWD)
- Four available trims: Base, Convenience, Leather, and Premium
The 2013 Encore marks Buick’s entry into the burgeoning subcompact SUV segment, aimed squarely at young urban professionals and downsizing empty nesters. Similar in size to the BMW X1 and Mini Countryman, the five-passenger Encore is the smallest sport-ute offered by the American luxury automaker, slotting below the full-size Enclave. It shares a platform and some components with the Chevrolet Trax and the German-market Opel Mokka and was built in GM’s South Korean assembly plant.
Powering the 2013 Encore is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel-drive is available as an option for those who need the extra traction.
Buyers could choose from four trim levels in 2013: the base model, the mid-level Convenience (1SD), the upscale Leather (1SL), and the top-of-the-line Premium (1SN). The base model comes reasonably well-equipped but lacks some of the advanced features found in higher trims, such as remote start and lane-departure warning.
- Responsive steering and handling
- Comfortable and quiet ride
- Lackluster acceleration
Behind the wheel of the 2013 Buick Encore, you’ll find the driving experience is a bit of a mixed bag. The standard Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. While that might sound adequate for a small SUV, the 3,800-pound Encore can feel sluggish when you’re trying to merge onto a freeway or make a quick pass.
That said, the Encore excels in urban environments. Its tight turning radius and responsive steering make it a breeze to weave through crowded city streets or slip into tight spaces. Ride quality is generally comfortable. However, the suspension isn’t set up for sporty driving, so you might notice a bit of body roll when taking turns at higher speeds.
While the 2013 Encore performs well in town, it’s not really designed for towing or off-roading. Its paltry 1,000-pound towing capacity places it near the bottom of its segment. Likewise, the optional all-wheel-drive system is better suited for adding extra grip on occasionally slippery surfaces than backcountry adventuring. If you’re looking for a capable small off-roader, consider the Jeep Renegade instead.
- 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway for FWD models
- 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway for AWD models
- Real-world reports confirm EPA estimates
The 2013 Buick Encore’s fuel economy figures are decent but not outstanding for its class. With front-wheel drive, the Encore is rated by the EPA at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Opting for the all-wheel-drive version drops those numbers slightly to 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.
In the subcompact SUV segment, these numbers place the Encore in the middle of the pack. Some competitors offer better fuel economy, particularly those with hybrid powertrains, but the Encore’s numbers are still respectable, especially for city driving.
Owner feedback generally confirms that these EPA estimates are accurate. Several owners report achieving or exceeding the EPA numbers in real-world driving conditions, particularly when employing a conservative driving style. However, if fuel economy is a significant concern for you, it might be worth exploring other options in the segment that fare better.
Interior and Features
- Upscale cabin with premium materials
- 7-inch infotainment screen but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration
- Limited rear legroom
Inside the 2013 Buick Encore, you’ll find an upscale atmosphere with soft-touch materials, faux leather seats, and wood grain accents come standard. The quality lags somewhat behind more expensive European models, but it’s clearly a step above more mainstream offerings, such as the Chevy Trax.
The dashboard layout is straightforward, with easy-to-read gauges and a center stack housing a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. Other standard features include 18-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, a power-adjustable driver seat, and a rearview camera. The Encore’s higher trims offer numerous upgrade opportunities, including remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation, and front and rear parking sensors. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available, however.
While the 2013 Encore technically provides seating for five, rear-seat passengers may find legroom a bit cramped, mainly when taller individuals are seated up front. That said, the front seats are supportive and comfortable for longer drives. As for storage, the Encore offers a reasonably generous cargo space for its size, especially when you fold down the 60/40-split rear seats. However, if you need lots of room, you may have to step up to a larger model, such as the Honda Element.
- Standard safety features include stability control and a full suite of airbags
- Advanced safety tech available on higher trims
- Strong safety ratings, especially in frontal crash tests
Regarding safety, the 2013 Buick Encore offers a solid range of features to help you feel secure on the road. Its standard amenities include a rearview camera, antilock disc brakes, front and rear side airbags, and front knee airbags. For advanced safety features, though, you’ll need to move up to the top-tier Premium trim, which adds forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
In terms of safety ratings, the 2013 Encore scores quite well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the model a four-out-of-five star rating for front-wheel-drive versions and a perfect five-out-of-five star rating for those with all-wheel drive. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also named the Encore a 2013 Top Safety Pick, its second-highest award.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that the 2013 Encore was not subjected to all the modern crash tests that newer models undergo. While it performed well in the testing of its day, it does not offer the same level of safety design or technology as more recent models.
- Generally reliable, but some common complaints about electrical issues
- Maintenance and repair costs are moderate for the segment
The consensus is that the 2013 Buick Encore is reasonably dependable. Most owners report a relatively trouble-free ownership experience, especially when it comes to the engine and transmission. It earns a solid 3.9-star overall rating from Edmunds consumer reviews. However, some common complaints focus on electrical issues, such as problems with the infotainment system freezing or the occasional sensor malfunction.
The 2013 Encore’s cost of ownership is about average for the luxury subcompact SUV segment. Routine maintenance items such as oil changes, brake pad replacements, and tire rotations won’t break the bank. However, the costs can add up if you need to replace something significant, like a turbocharger or a transmission. With that in mind, it’s crucial to get any used example you’re considering inspected by a trusted mechanic before you complete your purchase.
Which One to Buy
- Best Overall: Premium with AWD
- Value Pick: Base with FWD
- Urban Commuter: Convenience with FWD
If you’re looking for the most well-rounded version of the 2013 Buick Encore, the Premium trim with all-wheel drive is the way to go. This trim offers all the luxury features you’d expect, such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, and advanced safety tech like forward collision and lane departure warnings. It’s a perfect match for buyers who want an extra touch of luxury and safety without jumping to a larger, more expensive SUV.
For those on a tighter budget, the base Encore with front-wheel drive provides a more affordable entry point. While it lacks some advanced features, it still offers a comfortable, upscale interior and competent performance for day-to-day driving. It’s ideal for first-time buyers or those who want a reliable, stylish vehicle without the extra bells and whistles.
Lastly, for urban dwellers who navigate city streets, the Convenience trim with front-wheel drive makes a lot of sense. It adds a few more comfort features over the base version, such as remote start and dual-zone automatic climate control, without pushing the price too high. Front-wheel drive will suffice for most city driving conditions, making this a practical and somewhat luxurious option.
Photos courtesy of Buick and IIHS