It’s no secret that General Motors is entering uncharted territory with the 2013 Buick Encore. Not the automaker, nor the Buick brand, have ever had a vehicle like the Encore — a subcompact crossover that’s smaller than the very popular Chevy Equinox/GMC Terrain or the fleet-only Chevy Captiva Sport (aka Saturn Vue) — on sale in North America.
So while Buick’s Enclave is attracting conquest buyers left and right, we wondered if the much smaller crossover — the segment for which doesn’t even exist in the U.S. as of this writing — would have any kind of success and whether Buick should have introduced a larger-than-Encore crossover first. But if preliminary order numbers are any indication, then we were wrong to doubt the Gamma-based Encore.
According to President of General Motors North America Mark Reuss, The General expected roughly 1,500 initial Encore orders from its dealer body; instead, it got nearly 9,000. Buick dealers, according to Reuss, are “thrilled to have an exclusive” — a scenario that came about thanks to the non-shared nature of the Encore’s crossover-tuned Gamma architecture in GM’s U.S. market. Other markets, of course, offer vehicles built on the same platform, such as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka and Chevrolet Trax — albeit with different trim and features. Even so, we’ve been told that the Encore and the Trax are what the Buick Verano is to the Cruze — an entirely different experience, through and through.
The Encore is set to launch in the first quarter of 2013 at a base price of $24,950. GM lists the vehicle’s competitors as the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 — both of which are acutely more expensive and more powerful than the 1.4 liter turbocharged engine’s 140 horsepower in the Encore; the engine is also available in the Chevy Cruze and Sonic. We’ll see how the Encore performs over time in the real world when it launches. In the meantime, all we can do is speculate.