I went with the all-wheel drive(AWD) Encore as the penalty in fuel economy was not that much over the FWD. The driving experience is very rewarding as the controls are all require light inputs from the steering to the brakes. The handling really surprises me as it handles as good as my Verano yet rides as smooth as most cars. The highway noise is muted with the Bose Active Cancelation and it works really well as the radio volume can be low that a conversations to rear passengers are not drowned out in bass from the rear speakers. The seats are firm in the base model but day long drives are not fatiguing as there is plenty of room in any seat for adjusting. Storage can be tight but if front passenger seat is folded down it is almost 65 cubic feet of cargo area. With larger door height openings than sedans it make it very easy to jump in and out. The fuel economy has been the biggest surprise with lowest of 32-33 mpg house hunting to almost 40 mpg on the highway.
The almost 40 mpg on the highway makes the Buick Encore the most efficient, real world, all wheel drive gasoline sedan or CUV available. The engine torque from the turbo makes output low in the operating range on low 87 octane.
Though no stop light racer between lights once under way the handling is enough to shuffle passengers and their belongings, more than enough to satisify on sweeping roads. The steering is very lightweight and matches the controls and brakes well.
Safety & braking
The Encore has brakes that just love more pedal pressure and more stopping is the response. The faster the pedal is applied the faster it stops.
I'm a confessed manual transmission lover with the directness that only it can give. But this automatic transmission is the best I have driven always adjusting the transmission with my throttle pedal inputs. Manual mode is quick too but with the torque the engine makes it is not really needed to make the changes yourself. It pulls in any rpms regardless of gear.
The standard Bose Noise Cancelation works really well. There is still some road noise but the fatiguing, low volume drone is absent.
It looks small and stubby but the seat areas have allot of space for even the largest body types. The styling is upright and can turn heads at most gas stations.
The interior is car-like small but with the fron passenger seat folded down cargo capacity jumps to almost 65 cubic feet of cargo. Plenty of storage bins to place belongings along with two door storage areas.
Driving position & visibility
The seats are firm at first but comfortable for all day vacationing. The visibility out the front is narrow and takes some time to get used too. The seating position is high versus a sedan which makes outward visibility good. I love the single tap, three flash of the turn signal when making lane changes. I adjust the side mirrors out to view the sides and the inside mirror for the rear. With this setup there is only a small blind spot on the driver's side so I still have to turn my head over my left shoulder. The back camera is nice and high making it possible to back up between the lines in a parking spot after practice. Though I just can't get used to looking forward at a screen when backing up it is handy when finding where dog is.
Tire noise over expansion joints are noticeable but once on the smooth surface it is quiet.
Very rich color choices. So good I have three colors narrowed down and would have been pleased with each. The wheel color choices were chrome or painted. The painted actually look great when clean and hide the dirt well.
Audio & nav systems
I got a base model which included IntelliLink. Bluetooth works great with the phone and connects easy. Cruise control is on the steering wheel and is better than my Verano as there is no toggle to turn it on. There is a light on the dash that changes color with the state of the cruise control. Stero is good but is not very loud in the base model. I use Waze for navigation.
The base colors are Titanium(silver) or Ebony(black). I thought the Titanium would pick up more dirt as the carpet is a silvery whiteish color. The silver fabric breaths well compared to leather.
Controls and instruments
With the base model there is no dual zone climate control. So opening and closing the vents on your side work well. Will have to test out with back seat passengers but with no rear upper vents(just floor vents) my Verano does get warm in the rear.