As we approach the 2016 New York Auto Show, where we’re expected to witness the official debut of a refreshed 2017 Buick Encore, we need to take pause. You may have missed it, but Buick introduced an updated version of the popular Encore small crossover already. Dubbed the Encore Sport Touring, it relieves the dog-tired LUV 1.4L turbo engine for an all-new LE2 1.4L engine. Largely, this was the big change.
The graphite-colored wheels are cool, and the different interior hues are swell, but mechanically, the new engine really gives the 2016 Encore Sport Touring a positive boost. Yet that’s also going to be what’s most overlooked. Because we doubt that the multitude of buyers are going to give any notice. Because let’s face it, this isn’t a Corvette. Or a CTS-V. People are going to lease the hell out of this little thing, and not think twice about what’s under the hood compared to last year’s model. They probably won’t notice the 11 percent horsepower increase (now 153 hp, up from 138 hp) or the 20 percent increase in torque (now 177 lb-ft, up from 140 lb-ft), to help with city scooting. Or that the NVH levels feel significantly reduced. But they *might* notice the combined EPA fuel economy rating increase of 3 miles per gallon for the AWD models, and 2 mpg for the FWD models. If you need to know, it’s 26 mpg city and 32 mpg highway for the all-wheel-drive 2016 Encore Sport Touring, and 28 city, 34 highway for the front-wheel-drive model.
Besides the mechanical improvements, however, the 2016 Buick Encore Sport Touring grabbed my attention in another way. It just felt better built than the earlier model years of Encore that I had the opportunity to wheel around. The interior just felt tighter, less tinny, and more appropriate to what a Buick should be. And if you can’t wait for a 2017 Encore, the 2016 Encore Sport Touring, starting at $29,775, should be able to satisfy your palate for a premium pint-sized people mover.