The Buick Encore first hit the road in 2013, but despite being less than a decade old, it’s among the most popular subcompact SUVs on the market. While it may not be setting records for speed, power, or off-road performance, the 2021 Buick Encore remains an extremely practical, comfortable, and affordable model that is well-suited to a wide range of drivers. The subcompact SUV segment continues to grow as drivers realize that they offer the versatility of an SUV in the footprint of a sedan, and out of the available options, the Buick Encore stands out as possibly the best value available.
Raise Your Standards
The standard 2021 Buick Encore has an MSRP of $23,200, which makes it the most affordable option in the Buick lineup and less expensive than many models from economy brands. Its standard EcoTec 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine provides plenty of pep and has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27 MPG combined. Further, unlike some competitors in the segment, the Encore has the option of all-wheel drive for greater safety in bad road conditions. Even better, the option for all-wheel drive only reduces fuel economy to 26 MPG combined.
Exterior details include heated side mirrors, allowing you to get moving more quickly on frosty mornings. However, the Encore’s interior is where it truly rises above the pack. Subcompact SUVs are not generally known for their quiet rides, but Buick includes its exclusive QuietTuning technology on even its most affordable model. QuietTuning technology utilizes acoustically-dampening glass in the windshield and side windows along with other engineering and material tweaks and tricks to help the noise and bumps of the outside world disappear. A good suspension is also part of what makes the Encore cabin so quiet, helping to decrease road noise.
The standard 2021 Buick Encore seats are cloth with leatherette trim. Both the driver’s seat and the windows have power controls, which is remarkable for a vehicle at this price point. Also standard is keyless open, so you can unlock your doors while keeping your keys safe in your bag or pocket. Both the rear bench seat and the front passenger seat can fold flat for all your cargo storage needs. Completely folding down that front passenger seat means you can haul items up to eight feet in length while keeping the rear hatch securely closed. When not carrying skis, furniture, or other large items, you can store your shopping out of sight from prying eyes under a cover in the rear cargo section and tuck your wallet or electronics away in a special compartment under the front passenger seat.
Technology and Options
The Buick Infotainment system comes standard with an eight-inch color touchscreen, which is noteworthy in a vehicle of this size. This system lets you connect your smartphone wirelessly through Bluetooth or use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. While your compatible smartphone is connected, you can use natural voice recognition to control the audio system and make phone calls. The Encore also comes standard with SiriusXM satellite radio, which lets you access ad-free streaming music, sports, and news no matter where your travels take you. There is even a standard 4G WiFi hotspot for on the go internet. Besides the infotainment screen, the driver information center itself includes a 4.2-inch screen that shows useful information such as average speed, fuel economy, fuel range, trip odometer, and more.
When it comes to safety, the 2021 Buick Encore comes standard with StabiliTrak. This electronic stability control (ESC) system can react more powerfully than standard traction control, adjusting individual tires automatically to counteract skids and slips. There are also LED daytime running lamps to help ensure you’re seen in foggy weather, ten standard airbags, and a LATCH system – lower anchors and tether for compatible child seats. Also standard is a rear vision camera so you can see directly behind you when reversing at low speeds.
But Wait, There’s More
The base trim Buick Encore is only available in Summit White with an ebony interior. However, the higher Preferred trim only raises the price to $25,595 and comes with plenty of options, including four additional metallic colors – Cinnabar dark red, Dark Moon Blue (both new for 2021), Quicksilver, and Ebony Twilight – or a beautiful White Frost Tricoat. You can also upgrade the interior with two-tone tan and black upholstery for additional customization.
But the most significant upside to the Encore Preferred is all the additional options that are available. For instance, with this model, you can upgrade to five-spoke aluminum alloy weeks and add an accessory carrier hitch, cargo area tray, cargo net, and wheel lock kit. You can also protect the interior of your Encore Preferred with all-weather floor mats and a premium cargo mat. A power moonroof and Rainsense automatic wipers are available on the Encore Preferred, but not the base model. Basic roof rails are standard on both, but you can also add cross rails to the Preferred to secure a kayak on the way to the lake or luggage on a road trip. You can even choose to add a lighting kit to illuminate your front footwells and cup holders.
Finally, there are two different two safety packages available to add on to the Encore Preferred. The first package includes rear cross traffic and side blind zone alerts, alerting you to vehicles that you cannot see when backing out of parking places or changing lanes on the highway. The second package is new for this model year and adds the Rainsense wipers, front and rear park assist, forward collision alert, and a lane departure warning. Adding both packages is quite affordable and will help keep you safe and relaxed no matter where your travels take you.
But What’s the Catch?
While the 2021 Buick Encore is still one of the most comfortable of the subcompact SUVs, it is beginning to show its age in some places. However, it would be surprising if that was not the case after 8 years on the market, and its long production run is part of the reason why the Encore remains so affordable for such a well-appointed vehicle. However, if you do want something a bit larger and more modern, Buick already has the answer in the form of the Buick Encore GX. Introduced for 2020, the Encore GX is an all-new vehicle that offers more standard and available features with a base MSRP of $24,100. But while many expected the Encore GX to replace the older Encore, the smaller model’s versatility means that it continues to have a place in the Buick lineup.
At the End of the Day
What the 2021 Buick Encore may be beginning to show its age, it continues to dominate the subcompact SUV market thanks to its comfort and versatility. While it’s not going to set any performance records, its high ride height and nimbleness are perfect for the average city or suburban commute. The seat height also makes it easy to get into and out of, while the compact size and standard rear camera make it easy to get into and out of parking spots and small garages. The Preferred model opens up many more optional bells and whistles, which may be just what your band is looking for.