Buick Encore Sport Touring Gets Power Boost Courtesy of New Engine
New Encore Trim Presages Changes to Brand Strategy
The Buick Encore has been a runaway sales success for the brand, selling at nearly double the rate that General Motors predicted, but there’s always room for improvement. To wit: The 2016 Encore will get a new Sport Touring trim level, featuring an all-new turbocharged engine that shares only its displacement with the outgoing 1.4L I-4.
The aluminum-block-and-head motor produces an estimated 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, a useable increase over the standard Encore’s 138 hp and 148 lb-ft, but it isn’t just power that sets it apart. Low-friction piston rings, camshaft drive, and oil pump help reduce parasitic loss, increasing efficiency and performance, while piston-cooling oil jets keep in-engine temperatures low, reducing harshness and improving emissions and efficiency. The engine’s green cred is further improved through the use of water-cooled exhaust manifolds (which help the engine reach operating temperature more quickly) and automatic engine stop/start.
Buick also claims the new 1.4L is more refined than the old one, with a unique camshaft drive chain, stamped steel oil-pan sump, and iron crankshaft main bearing inserts helping reduce vibration and noise. That will no doubt help the Encore come off as a more premium product, given that the previous-design 1.4L turbo can sometimes come off as harsh, given its small displacement and direct injection.
Visually, the Sport Touring differentiates itself from lesser Encores with a rear wing on the hatch, unique 18-inch aluminum wheels, and body-color door handles. The extra power helps back up that sporty exterior look, and the new Encore trim level will likely preserve the model’s nimble and relatively frisky characteristics.
Inside, all Sport Tourings come standard with the Encore Convenience Package, adding Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Side Blind Zone Alert driver-assist features. Additionally, the package includes niceties like a 120V power point, dual-zone climate control, fog lamps, and remote starting.
All 2016 Encores come standard with OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, a rearview camera, Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology, and four-wheel disc brakes. Of note, only the Encore Sport Touring is slated to get the all-new 1.4L I-4, while all other trim levels will soldier on with the older engine.
The Sport Touring comes at a critical time for Buick. While the Encore is still enjoying strong sales, the rest of the company’s lineup is starting to look dated and sales are suffering commensurately. Buick hopes to revive its brand image a few different ways: an overnight test drive will allow customers to get to know a prospective purchase without a salesman barking orders from the passenger seat, while an upcoming revived model lineup in the next three years will drive showroom traffic. Headlining that lineup will be the company’s midsize Envision crossover, which should hit dealers in 2016, according to Automotive News.
Source: Buick, Automotive News