My family spent the Fourth of July weekend with two of the stellar subcompact SUVs in the General Motors’ lineup, a test 2017 Buick Encore and our own 2017 Chevrolet Trax with its dealer-installed bike rack. They were great companions for an active extended family that did everything from fireworks to a 16-mile trek on the bike paths of Kensington Metro Park in Michigan.
The Encore, which was mildly refreshed for the 2017 model year, was a sparkler in almost all areas – except for price.
Our test vehicle, a mid-range Encore Sport Touring model with all-wheel-drive and the upgraded 153-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, had a steep sticker price of $31,220, including a $925 destination charge. The base 2017 Encore starts at almost $24,000. The base 2017 Trax, a sibling of the Encore, is a better deal, undercutting the Encore by about $2,000.
Our Encore was loaded with seven options, including a fancy Bose audio system and a $495 safety package that included side blind-zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert, technology features that are worth the money.
The Sport Touring model varies from the base model with such touches as a special rear spoiler, 18-inch aluminum wheels and body-color door handles. In keeping with the festive holiday mood, our test vehicle featured a Winterberry Red Metallic exterior.
The upgraded engine, which adds $895 to the bottom line, comes with start/stop, a feature designed to conserve fuel. The system shuts off the engine when the car comes to a stop and then restarts it when your foot comes off the brake. We found the feature to be slightly jarring and annoying. The EPA says the Encore returns 26 miles per gallon and 31 miles per gallon the highway.
We enjoyed the Encore’s luxury feel, along with its Apple CarPlay capability and optional dual-zone climate control. My parents had enough room in the back seat to feel comfortable. The rear cargo hold was big enough to hold a big cooler, a picnic basket and the obligatory sparklers for our granddaughter Eleanor.
She capped a memorable day that included a barbecue and visit to the local pool by doing some energetic flag-waving in front of the Encore. Of course, she’s too young to read the fine print on the Monroney that notes the SUV is built in Korea.