First Drive: 2013 Buick Encore

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City, Slicker

2013 Buick Encore - front three-quarter view, white

We admit it. We have no earthly idea how this whole thing is going to shake out.

Typically, after driving a new car or truck, we come away prepared to hazard a guess as to whether said model has a good chance of being a sales success. We’ve amassed enough time watching the industry, scrutinizing the competitors, and so on, to make a reasonably educated bet. Yet here we are, days removed from driving the new 2013 Buick Encore, and we still have no bloody idea.

To be fair, we’re in good company. Buick’s perfectly capable public relations and marketing teams don’t appear to entirely know what to expect from the Encore, either. They’ve had to strain to even find remote competitors to match their new baby against. BMW X1? Volkswagen Tiguan? Mini Countryman? All kinda-sorta-maybe rivals from our vantage point. Yet we can’t necessarily provide better ones for this tiny semi-premium crossover, either. Fiscal cliff-discount Land Rover Range Rover Evoque? Uppity Hyundai Tucson? Nissan Juke ravished by Vilner? It’s really rather hard to say what plays here. The above panoply of would-be rivals only hints at just how small the Encore is. At 168.5 inches long, it’s the shortest Buick in memory – stubbier, remarkably, than such past Trishield outliers as the Skyhawk, Somerset and Reatta.

Yet none of this size discussion or the lack of a clearly defined competitive set is to say that the Encore won’t be a resounding success. Early signs from dealers – whose initial orders have been six times company estimates – are more than positive, and certainly Buick could do with another crossover underneath its much larger Enclave.

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2013 Buick Encore originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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