There will be three trim levels available when the Encore arrives in Canadian showrooms early this spring. Convenience starts at $26,995 and includes air, six-speed transmission, 10 airbags, leather-wrapped wheel, fog lamps, six-way adjustable driver’s seat, Intellilink and an optional premium Bose sound system.

The Leather trim starts at $30,190 and includes everything in the Convenience trim, adding: dual zone climate control. Auto-dimming rear mirror, heated leather seats, heated steering wheel, remote start, rear vision camera and optional Bose sound system, sunroof and navigation system.

First Drive: 2013 Buick Encore first drives buick
2013 Buick Encore. Click image to enlarge

The range-topping Premium model starts at $32,505 and adds lane departure warning, rain sensing wipers, premium Bose audio with XM satellite radio tuner, front & rear park assist, forward collision alert, with optional navigation and sunroof.

Add all-wheel drive to any of the above for $1,950, or a variety of accessories such as all-weather floor mats, roof rails, splash guards or cargo net.

We spent time in both AWD and FWD vehicles in Convenience and Premium Trim.

The Encore presents a tidy package with plenty of front head and legroom, although its claims as a five-seater are a bit ambitious. This is a very compact compact-crossover with a wheelbase that’s shorter than the Verano’s.

The interior is attractively designed and every touch surface is well padded. Two-tone models are particularly striking with chrome and wood trim augmented by ambient blue lighting. Centre stack design is ergonomically friendly and houses the IntelliLink infotainment system’s seven-inch display.

First Drive: 2013 Buick Encore first drives buick
2013 Buick Encore. Click image to enlarge

Seats are comfortable and the heated steering wheel in the upper trim level is a lovely feature for those cold winter mornings.

Rear cargo is 532.4 L, which increases to 1371 L with rear seats folded flat.

The Encore fulfills its lofty claims of silent riding – over country roads and through downtown Toronto rush-hour traffic we travelled in quiet serenity – although the rushing wind did become noticeable on the highway.

There’s nothing exciting about driving the Encore. The four-cylinder Ecotec manages to propel it smoothly enough, although it does labour a bit when pushed.  It will never be mistaken for a sport utility vehicle, nor as a heavily laden people hauler, but then it doesn’t pretend to be. GM claims that 60 percent of the targeted demographic is female –and apparently females don’t like sportiness. Who knew?

Handling is decent without undue body roll and bumps and thumps were absorbed nicely. Steering is light, but not insubstantial – good for easy execution of downtown parking lot maneuvers.

Although it’s unlikely that the Encore will appeal to young men, who generally prefer a touch more testosterone in their ride (with the exception of several gay friends who insisted it was “elegantly cute”), it may just find favour with urban dwellers looking for quiet refinement in their practical vehicle – and without sacrificing fuel economy.

First Drive: 2013 Buick Encore first drives buick First Drive: 2013 Buick Encore first drives buick First Drive: 2013 Buick Encore first drives buick First Drive: 2013 Buick Encore first drives buick
2013 Buick Encore. Click image to enlarge

Pricing: 2013 Buick Encore
Base price (Convenience): $26,995
Base price (Leather): $30,190
Base price (Premium): $32,505
Options: All-wheel drive ($1,950), Navigation ($995), 18-inch chrome wheels ($995), sunroof ($1,100), Bose Sound system ($775, standard on Premium model).
Freight: $1,550

Competitors:
BMW X1
Hyundai Tucson
Mercedes-Benz B 250
Mini Countryman
Volkswagen Tiguan

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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