A black 2022 Buick Encore is shown form the side parked in front of a boutique.

The 2022 Buick Encore is a True Luxury Subcompact SUV

As the best-selling Buick in the most competitive automotive segment, the white-hot subcompact category, the Buick Encore carries plenty of weight on its shoulders, and the 2022 Buick Encore has a lot to live up to. Luckily, this subcompact SUV lives up to the hype, especially for the 2022 model year. For 2022, the Encore receives a 12 percent horsepower boost and continues to offer lots of standard luxury features.

It’s uncommon for vehicles in the subcompact segment to venture from a simplified, value-oriented equipment offering, a strategy that keeps sticker prices low. It makes sense since the category draws first-time buyers and budget shoppers. But Buick manages to sidestep this default price/value formula with the Encore, infusing it with luxury equipment while still maintaining affordability.

Buick has slotted the Encore in the middle of the subcompact pack price-wise and as the entry crossover in its own lineup. It anchors the slightly larger Encore GX, the Envision, and the full-size Enclave, a family of premium crossovers that regularly receive high marks from automotive journalists. With a starting price tag of just about $25,000, see why this five-seater deserves a spot on your consideration list.

Ride Handling and Powertrain Basics

Buick tuned the Encore’s existing 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 engine to squeeze out an extra 17 horsepower and 29 lb-ft of power, bringing horsepower to 155 and torque to 177 lb-ft. It may not seem like much, but adding 12 percent more power to the Encore’s diminutive 3,195-lb curb weight and 168.4-inch overall length makes a substantial difference that drivers will feel, especially when accelerating from a complete stop.

The Encore is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The latter adds a little more curb weight, resulting in a small fuel economy reduction. Two-wheel drive Encores achieve 24 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway, while an all-wheel drive Encore nets 23 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway. The difference is minimal, so for buyers in four-season climates or areas that are subjected to wet weather conditions, having all-wheel drive might make sense and be well worth the slight drop in fuel economy.

All Encore models receive StabiliTrak, an automatic stability control system designed to maximize traction over wet or icy roads. StabiliTrak works via sensors that automatically apply the brakes to tires it senses have lost grip, sending power to the tires with the most traction. Unlike most traction control systems, StabiliTrak can also influence steering. If you’re cornering in icy conditions and the system senses the car isn’t following your steering cues, it will automatically redistribute power to get it moving in the direction you’re attempting to steer.

As for ride handling, the experts at CarBuzz report that “steering is light and precise,” and with the Encore’s standard cabin sound dampening and comfort-tuned suspension, highway driving is surprisingly quiet and free from grating road noise and vibration. This makes it a great choice for commuters or weekend road trippers who enjoy the zen only a whisper-quiet interior cabin can offer.

The grille of a 2022 Buick Encore shows the Buick bowtie in closeup.

Standard and Available Luxury Features

It’s uncommon for subcompact vehicles to have upgraded tires and wheels, but the Encore ignores that industry standard in favor of standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels combined with premium all-season tires. Its rivals, the Hyundai Kona and the Mazda CX-3, are outfitted with much smaller 16-inch wheels. What’s the benefit? It’s threefold: first, a more aggressive curb presence; second, enhanced performance; and third, improved ride handling.

Other premium exterior luxury features include standard heated power outside mirrors, keyless open and a push-button start, LED daytime running lamps, roof-mounted side rails, a unique solar-absorbing windshield that filters out harmful UV rays, and intermittent front and rear wipers. Opting for the available Road Trip Package adds roof rack cross rails and durable all-weather floor mats.

Buick offers an array of premium exterior colors for all Encore models. Buyers can opt for Summit White at no additional cost or choose from multiple metallic hues. Options include a fiery red Cinnabar, the more dramatic black Ebony Twilight, silver, dark blue, or the more pearlescent White Frost Tricoat, an ultra-premium color that looks especially distinctive when paired with the available shale interior trim.

On the interior, Buick infuses the Encore with plenty of standard comfort and convenience features, including a power driver’s seat, a compass display, power door locks and windows, handy under-seat storage for the front passenger, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, covered storage in the rear cargo area. You’ll also get QuietTuning, a system that insulates the cabin from exterior road noise. A 7-inch infotainment touchscreen is also standard on all Encores.

Safety and Driver Assist Equipment

Most subcompact SUVs offer access to advanced semi-autonomous driver assist systems, and the 2022 Buick Encore is no exception. A rear vision camera is standard equipment on all Encores, and buyers can choose from two different safety equipment packages to add even more advanced systems that perform two critical functions. These features alert the driver to potential hazards, and they intervene to assist in preventing or minimizing collisions.

Adding the $495 Safety Package equips the Encore with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Side Blind Zone Alert, as well as a 120-volt power outlet. In combination with the rearview camera, Rear Cross Traffic Alert monitors the area outside the camera’s field of vision, warning the driver if it senses a vehicle approaching from either side. This is extremely helpful when backing out of a driveway or parking space. The Side Blind Zone Alert helps drivers stay aware of what’s coming on either side to avoid making an unsafe lane change.

Drivers can add more safety systems with the addition of Safety Package II. The package includes Rainsense windshield wipers that automatically turn on when rain is detected on the windshield and adjust speed up or down to match rainfall intensity. Also included is Front and Rear Park Assist, which utilizes a series of sensors to detect when you’re getting too close to an object while parking. It’s helpful to avoid “bumper kissing” in tight spaces.

Safety Package II also includes Forward Collision Alert, a system designed to warn the driver if it senses a hazard ahead, such as a decelerating or stopped vehicle, that’s close enough to potentially cause a collision. It’s a signal to the driver to slow down. Lane Departure Warning is also included and alerts the driver when it senses the vehicle has drifted out of its intended lane of travel. This is especially helpful on long, boring highway drives when attention tends to wane.

These driver assist technologies exemplify Buick’s focus on providing Encore buyers with premium level features. Some features are designed primarily for comfort, others for convenience, and – in the case of the larger wheels and upgraded exterior paint options – pure luxury. It’s an attention to detail not commonly found on the value end of the vehicle spectrum, but it’s a core brand objective for Buick and one that hits the mark in the Encore.

The black and white interior of a shows the steering wheel and front seats.

The 2022 Buick Encore Combines Everything Great About Buick

Buick seeks to occupy an affordable luxury niche in the SUV segment. With the Encore, differentiation by way of class-leading performance specifications, elegant and refined exterior styling, and access to a long list of standard and available luxury features embody this mission. The 2022 Buick Encore serves as an affordable entrant to the Buick family of premium crossovers. It’s a practical choice for budget-minded buyers still seeking a well-equipped SUV.