More Power? Buick Encore Buyers Don’t Want It

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2017 Buick Encore front

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Buick’s smallest model might not be what most TTAC readers want to see in their driveway, but it’s nonetheless popular with the American buying public. The subcompact Encore is by far the brand’s best-selling vehicle, making up nearly half of Buick’s sales volume. We’ll probably see a next-generation model debut later this year or early next.

What buyers won’t find when they check the coming year’s offering is the availability of an uplevel engine, however. For 2020, the hotter of the two turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinders vanishes from the Encore line, and it probably won’t be missed.

According to CarsDirect, which discovered the engine cancellation via 2020 Encore order guides, buyers weren’t interested in upgrading their vehicle’s thrust. Automakers staring down the barrel of reduced sales volumes are busy dropping unpopular build configurations left and right, and Buick followed suit.

This means that, for 2020 (and possibly onwards), the Encore will carry on with the same Ecotec LUJ engine that’s powered the model since its 2013MY debut. The mill, found in the Chevrolet Trax and Sonic, generates 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, compared to the 153 hp and 177 lb-ft offered by the upgraded LE2 motor.

GM’s LE2 is an all-aluminum powerplant, unlike the LUJ, and once served as the sole engine in the discontinued Chevy Cruze (which continues in overseas markets). The Encore’s sister car, the Chevy Trax, does not offer an engine upgrade.

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Image: Buick

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Still, despite offering better power for tackling highway passing and hilly terrain, buyers stayed away from the $250 engine upgrade. After confirming the change, Buick spokesperson Renee Ketels told CarsDirect that only 12 percent of Encore buyers opted for the more potent engine in 2018. Note that the LE2 engine is only available on the uplevel Sport Touring and top-flight Essence trims.

The Buick Encore, which comes in two distinct variants in China for 2020, continues to find favor with Americans. GM sold 93,073 of the things last year — the model’s best annual tally to date. And, while overall U.S. Buick sales declined 8.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019, Encore sales fell just 3.4 percent.

[Image: General Motors]

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