Buick Unveils the Encore, A Compact SUV

The Buick Encore is part of a new breed: little SUVs. At the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Buick unveiled what it hopes will be one of the earliest entries in the growing market of compact luxury crossover SUVs.

The Encore won’t hit roads before early-2013. Audi and BMW are anticipated to add little SUVs to their ranges in 2013, as the SUV attempts to shed its image as a gas-guzzlin’ road-hoggin’ behemoth.

Tighter handling and smaller everything is the order of the day for the Encore. At just fourteen feet long (168.5 inches to be exact), the Encore is considerably shorter than the Volkswagen Tiguan, and comes with a modest 100.6 inch wheelbase. While not the tiniest stats in the little SUV world, Buick says the Encore has a 36.7-foot turning radius that makes it nimbler than the smaller Mini Countryman.

The Encore also boasts features such as lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, blind-spot alert, and a sweet Bose noise cancellation set-up that gets rid of pesky road noise.

It has a 140-horsepower, 1.4-liter engine and a six-speed automatic transmission box, and will be offered with either front- or all-wheel drive.

Being an SUV though, the inevitable question is: how will it go on the gas? Buick says the front-wheel version will clock up more than 30 miles to the gallon on highways. The company already makes some green-friendly gas-sippers compared to other automakers – most of their big SUVs coming in at 20 – 24 m.p.g – so expect some good economy.