Despite the Americana stigma associated with the brand, Buick is really a global company at this point. At its beginning the Regal was imported from Europe, then the Encore crossover was imported from South Korea and now the Envision is being imported from China. Now one of the vehicles that started the globalization of Buick, the Encore, is getting a refresh for 2017.
The small cute-ute has been on the market since late 2012 and has quickly become a staple in the Buick portfolio. Though we digress, the Encore has been in need of a reworking despite its infancy on the North American market. The Opel-derived crossover lacked the sophistication that a Buick in today’s world should have, which at first glance, appears to be a wrong that has been righted for 2017.
For 2017 the front fascia of the Encore has been revamped with a new grille, more dynamic design and full-LED headlights (optional). The modernizations really go a long way in making the Encore look more at home with the new Buick design language, which is a convergence of Buick and Opel. More importantly, the Encore is losing its sort of mousy appearance that made it appear cheap.
The biggest change in-person, however, is the interior. The original Encore interior was developed before touchscreen infotainment systems became customary, as such the Encore felt foreign in more ways than one. The knob-based interface was clunky and it was controlling software that is outdated at best in today’s world.
Fortunately the 2017 Encore has rectified those grievances. The new dash panel is more upright, allowing for an ergonomically correct touchscreen interface. Additionally the dash materials have been upgraded to soft-touch grade throughout. Even the leather on the seats feels more premium than the outgoing Encore.
Though not everything about the Encore has been fixed. Buick has failed to fix the very annoying omission of a proper center armrest for front seat passengers. Additionally there is still the lack of a power lift-gate and the engine options remain unchanged.
The 2017 Encore retains two versions of GM’s 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder. Lower trim levels will be equipped with a non-direct injected version of the engine, while Sport Touring and up trim levels will have a direct-injected version of the engine that also includes start-stop functionality. The up-level version of the engine adds about 15 horsepower and 29 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to be noticeable.
So while we would have preferred a few more changes to the Encore, a new face and better interior layout are likely enough to keep this at the top of the Buick sales charts.