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2013 Buick Encore enters market with outstanding fuel economy

Buicks cute ‘ute joins the low 30s highway mileage club, but will buyers expect more performance from a compct premium vehicle?

General motors announced in a press release today that the new Buick Encore will have the best fuel economy for a domestic cute ‘ute. It counted Jeep as one of the domestic automakers, which is hilarious because Jeep is owned by an Italian company and was previously owned by a German company. Setting aside the issue of who is a domestic automaker, the headline highlights that the new Buick is not the fuel economy leader in its class, but it is in the hunt.

The 2013 Buick Encore when configured for front wheel drive and an automatic 6-speed transmission will achieve 33 mpg highway, and 25 mpg city for a combined EPA miles per gallon of 28 mpg. Significantly, the Buick does this while using regular unleaded. Many “premium” makes still insist on using premium fuel, which can exact a fuel economy penalty of as much as 10%. The Ford Escape matches the highway mpg of the new Buick, but cannot match the city mpg. Mazda’s new CX-5 has received a lot of press for its ability to achieve 35 mpg highway, but it should be noted that is with a manual transmission. Very few manual transmission vehicles will actually be built and sold. When configured as an automatic, the Mazda still delivers a solid 32 mpg.

These impressive fuel economy numbers for this 2013 Buick Encore and the other models are all for front wheel drive vehicles. Many buyers of compact sport utility vehicles opt for all-wheel drive and a separate comparison should be made of those vehicles which will all have lower mileage. Buyers should also look closely at the engine offerings as some manufacturers, notably Ford, offer more than one four cylinder engine choice. Furthermore, buyers should be aware that all of these cute ‘utes with the most impressive fuel economy numbers are flat out slow. Toyota’s RAV-4 and Acura’s RDX both offer very fuel efficient V6 engines with decent fuel economy that are rockets, even able to beat many sport sedans in a 0-60mph sprint.

General motors positioning of the Buick Encore is very interesting. Rather than have its premium compact sport utility compete with the more powerful offerings in the market it has chosen to focus the drivetrain on fuel economy. It remains to be seen if buyers of premium vehicles will accept slow vehicles in return for better fuel economy.