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Dave's Garage: 2021 Buick Encore GX

Eric Peters on

For a reference point, the Mazda CX30's much larger 2.5-liter four-cylinder posts 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive version and 25mpg city, 32 mpg highway with all-wheel drive.

It also makes 186 horsepower.

On the Road

The main benefit of the Buick's tiny turbocharged engines isn't fuel efficiency. It's ease of movement, the main benefit of turbocharging a gas engine. Which gives it the low revolutions-per-minute muscle of a diesel engine -- without the rattle and smoke.

The Encore's optional 1.3-liter engine makes its peak torque (174 foot-pounds) at just 1,500 rpm, which is only slightly faster than the engine idles. Which means that just a little pressure on the accelerator gives immediate and substantial acceleration.

In a weird way, the Encore is very Buick. Weird because this is a tiny thing -- with a tiny engine up front.

Not a road sofa like a '70 Riviera with a 7.5-liter 455 V-8 engine up front.

But the feel is similar -- and that's remarkable.

At the Curb

Even though it's barely half a '70 Riviera on the outside, there's actually more room on the inside.

The driver and front-seat passenger enjoy 41.7 inches of legroom, and there's 35 inches of back-seat legroom -- almost exactly as much as in the '70 Riviera.

 

And there's 17.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the back seats -- 42.7 cubic feet when you lower the back seat.

Which is more than twice as much space as a '70 Riviera had in its trunk.

The Rest

The Encore is more expensive by several thousand dollars than rivals, in this class in part because it's a Buick. Which is held to be a notch up in prestige -- and price.

But the standard/optional equipment that comes with -- or can be had -- in the Buick is similar to what comes standard -- or is available -- for much less in rivals from Mazda and Honda.

If this Buick's turbocharged engines gave it a significant mileage or power advantage over its bigger engined/lower-cost rivals, the price difference would be easier to overlook.

The Bottom Line

A smaller price would probably help sell this small crossover better.

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Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

 

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