Amid speculations of being discontinued, Buick’s smallest SUV, the Encore reappears with its 2021 model. With no mechanical and physical changes, the 2021 Buick Encore will go on sale later half this year with a simplified trim structure.

Just like every other manufacturer eyeing for a slice of the sub-compact SUV space, Buick launched its smallest SUV, the Encore back in 2013. Coming from a premium brand, the Encore did check all the basic boxes by delivering comfort and utility in a premium package, but still had some gaps to fill. Among its drawbacks, some of the major included its awkward stance and mediocre styling along with a moderate feature bundle. Over successive model years, the Buick Encore did get some styling tweaks and other feature updates, but it has always been due for a thorough revision. 

2021 Buick Encore will just be offered in two trim levels

Apart from the premium cabin and supple ride quality, there was not a lot happening with the Encore. Furthermore, Buick surprised everyone with the launch of Encore GX this year. The emergence of the GX also raised a question on the basic Encore’s existence. However, it's learned that Buick will be selling the Encore and Encore GX parallelly for 2021 adding one more year to the Encore’s lifeline. The 2021 Buick Encore shall roll down in the second half of 2020. That being said, here's all that we know about the 2021 Buick Encore by far.

Trims and Prices

Gone are the Essence and Sport touring and the 2021 Buick Encore will have just two trims on offer, the Base 1SV and the Preferred. Both the trims carry the same 138 hp 1.4-liter turbo inline-4 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Prices shall start at $23,200 for the 1SV and $24,600 for the Preferred model. There would also be the previously available $1500 optional AWD system that could be hooked with the Preferred trim. The sheer simplification of the trim line compared to the previous model does hint that the Encore might not survive for a very long period. 

Design and Exterior Highlights

With no physical change, the 2021 Buick Encore shall continue to flaunt its rather awkward exterior sheet which it borrows from the Chevrolet Trax. From the outside, it looks a bit overdone with an overall oval shape. Well, it does look compact but its quirky design combined with its height and all that black cladding does not complement its aspirations.

No special addition have been made for the 2021 model at all and you will have the same old lighting units, smaller yet signature Buick grille as well as the profiling. Thankfully, the Buick Encore GX which seems like a probable replacement for the basic Encore has much more style and appeal into it. 

Model

2021 Buick Encore

2020 Hyundai Kona

2020 Honda HR-V

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

Curb Weight (lbs.)

3237

2890

2906

3117

Length (in.)

168.4

164.0

170.4

175.8

Width (in.)

70.1

70.9

69.8

71.0

Height (in.)

65.3

61.0

63.2

63.6

Ground Clearance (in.)

6.2

6.7

7.3

8.7

Wheelbase (in.)

100.6

102.4

102.8

104.9

As far as the sub-compact SUV segment are concerned, there are much better-looking offerings than the Buick Encore. Take, for instance, the Subaru Crosstrek which stands out with its long and rugged profile which gives it a purpose-built look and a rugged appeal, all of which are welcome attributes in this segment. Even the Hyundai Kona and Honda HR-V carry a more trendy and inviting silhouette.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Similar to the outgoing 2020 model, the 2021 Buick Encore will have the 1.4-liter turbo inline-4 as the only power option. The engine itself has been one of the major complaints of the Encore. Though it is in line with its rivals in terms of power, the Encore seems too stressed out on the streets. Though the 6-speed automatic transmission is fairly swift and smooth in its operations, it's the engine that doesn't seem too energetic. The engine takes ages to get up and go and keeps you urging for more power on highway passing. 

Models

2021 Buick Encore

2020 Hyundai Kona

2020 Honda HR-V

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

Base MSRP

$23,200

$20,300

$20,820

$22,145

Engine

1.4-liter turbo Inline-4

2.0-liter Inline-4

1.8-liter Inline-4

2.0 Liter Boxer-4

Transmission

6-speed shiftable automatic

6-speed shiftable automatic

CVT

6-speed manual or CVT

Horsepower (hp @ rpm)

138 hp @ 4900 rpm

147 hp @ 6200 rpm

141 hp @ 6500 rpm

152 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque (ft-lbs @ rpm)

148 ft-lbs @ 1850 rpm

132 ft-lbs @ 4500 rpm

127 ft-lbs @ 4300 rpm

145 ft-lbs @ 4000 rpm

Though the Encore’s rivals don't promise mammoth power either, what they do is a better and engaging driving experience than the baby Buick. The likes of Honda HR-V and Subaru Crosstrek with their efficient and refined CVT’s offer more punch down the lower rpm range.

Fuel Economy and MPG Figures

With the same engine and dynamics, there is not going to be any change in the 2021 Buick Encore fuel economy as well. You will still be getting a decent economy of 25 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway and 27 combined. Had Buick done even some fine-tuning in the powertrain, the mpg figures could have certainly improved.

Models

2021 Buick Encore

2020 Hyundai Kona

2020 Honda HR-V

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

MPG (city)

25

27

28

27

MPG (highway)

30

33

34

33

MPG (combined)

27

30

30

30

Fuel tank capacity (gallons)

14.0

13.2

13.2

16.6

Range (city/highway/combined)

350.0/420.0

356.4/435.6

369.6/448.8 

365.2/481.4

However, when we look at the Encore’s stats and then analyze its economy, another flaw of the engine pops out altogether. Its rivals like the Hyundai Kona promise better efficiency even with a bigger engine than the Encore. The Encore has the smallest engine among the lot but yet it fails to present segment-best mpg. Thanks to its heavy mass and poor aerodynamics.

Interior, Seating, and Cargo

With probably in its final years of production, the Buick Encore is not going to offer a fresh ambiance inside its cabin. Even for 2021, the Buick Encore gets the same familiar interior decoration. It's clean, premium, and comfortable. That's the best way, to sum up, its cabin. Among its rivals, the Encore does offer one of the best interior layouts. While it might not be as plush as its bigger siblings, the Envision and Enclave, it reciprocates them fairly well. 

The cabin of the 2021 Buick Encore is fairly upmarket 

Along with some hard plastic at this price, the Buick Encore has a nice blend of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and armrests. The dashboard is neatly laid out too with an infotainment screen stashed into it along with physical buttons for climate controls. Overall, the Encore encloses a considerably upscale cabin packed with class-appropriate features inside its compact proportions. 

Models

2021 Buick Encore

2020 Hyundai Kona

2020 Honda HR-V

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

Passenger Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

39.6/54.2/40.8

39.6/55.5/41.5

39.5/56.8/41.2

39.8/56.7/43.1

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

38.8/52.5/35.8

37.8/54.5/34.6

38.3/54.5/39.3

38.0/55.6/36.5

Cargo Capacity (cu-fts)

18.8

19.2

24.3

20.8

However, the Encore does not offer the best configuration on the inside as its rivals like the Subaru Crosstrek or say a Jeep Renegade. First up, the front row seats are a tad narrow, and sitting on them might get uncomfortable over long journeys. Also because of its rather cramped proportions, it's not the most spacious as well. Apart from everything, utility inside the Encore is very minimal. Smaller cup holders and door bins would have you struggling for fitting your large drinks. Even the Encore’s cargo capacity of 18.8 cu-ft won't impress you very much since its rivals offer much better space behind their second row. 

Infotainment and Connectivity

The 2021 Buick Encore would continue to impress you with its extensive tech-suite which has gradually developed over the years. No additions for the 2021 model year but you will get standard 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also standard is a 6-speaker audio system with SiriusXM Satellite radio along with Bluetooth, USB, and AUX inputs. 

2021 Buick Encore gets an 8-inch infotainment system

The crisp infotainment based on GM's latest MyLink infotainment systems has a clean interface with good graphics and response making it fairly easy to use and we have always liked it. Apart from the standard accessories, you also have optional amenities like a 4G-LTE connection with in-built WiFi, Navigation with live traffic and traffic updates, and a Bose premium audio setup.

Safety Features and Ratings

One particular area with the Encore which has been a concern is its safety features. Without any major restructuring, the concern shall still remain, even in its 2021 model. Though the 2020 Buick Encore did receive an overall “good'' rating by IIHS and a 5-star by NHTSA, it has other issues to mend upon. The problem with it has been its meager standard safety features. In its last 2020 model, most of the advanced safety and driver assistance features were limited only to the higher models. 

It's a good thing though that the 2021 Encore retains all of its available advanced safety techs but the problem remains still unaddressed. Even for 2021, the two additional safety packages that house most of the advanced gizmos are available only with the Preferred model. The base 1SV would cry foul safety play even in 2021. However, the optional packages do bring in a whole bunch of safety assistances, some of which are listed below:

  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Forward collision alert
  • Lane departure warning
  • Post-collision safety system
  • Emergency brake assist

Verdict

The Buick Encore certainly seems a notch behind its competitors in almost every department. Its rivals like the Crossstrek, Kona, and HR-V offer more room, better driveability, better standard safety suite, and efficiency as well. Above all the other three machines also have a much better presence and style along with more overall value. However, one area where the encore outshines its rivals is with its serenity inside the cabin and comfortable ride. Even if comfort and luxury are your top priority, you shall be more than happy with the new Encore GX.

Also Read:

Is the Subaru Crosstrek the best value for money sub-compact crossover?

The Hyundai Kona might be the most compact in its segment, nut it has a lot to offer.

FAQs

Is the Buick Encore a good car?

The Buick Encore offers a decent composition of near-luxury and comfort in a small package. However, when it comes to overall value in its segment, it's certainly not the best. Its rivals offer better styling, more efficiency, space, utility along with better driving experience.

Is the Encore being discontinued?

GM is yet to make an announcement on that topic, but from the recent course of action, it seems that the Encore might be in its final production years. The coming up of an all new Encore GX along with trimming the 2021 Encore lineup have only fuelled our anticipations.

Which car is similar to the Buick Encore?

The Buick Encore shares its underpinnings with the Chevrolet Trax. The Buick Encore is basically an upscale and premium version of the Trax with a significantly heavier price tag than the latter. Almost every component on both these cars is similar, except for the visual presentation.