Stay­ing afloat in a sea of com­pact SUVs

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - War­ren Brown war­ren.brown@wash­

There was ease of mind. I did not worry about where I would park it in the city, or how. Small size is worth that con­ve­nience, es­pe­cially in some­thing re­garded as a sport-util­ity ve­hi­cle.

To me, it’s a lit­tle sta­tion wagon. But few peo­ple use that term or know what it means any­more.

Few of them re­ally know what an SUV is, ei­ther. Put it this way: If your mind is bent by cur­rent au­to­mo­tive mar­ket­ing, you’ll get in trou­ble in the off-road wild in this one, the 2017 Buick En­core Pre­mium All-Wheel Drive. It is de­signed and en­gi­neered for heavy rain and mod­er­ate snow. It is not meant for truly off-road rough stuff.

If you are will­ing to ac­cept that re­al­ity, you can pre­pare to be rea­son­ably happy. The En­core, on sale since 2015 as a 2016 model, has re­ceived cos­metic and tech­no­log­i­cal up­dates for 2017. It is a pretty lit­tle ve­hi­cle, as quiet as most mod­ern Buicks.

But this lit­tle Buick is swim­ming in a sea of ag­gres­sive com­pact SUV com­peti­tors from ev­ery coun­try pro­duc­ing cars and trucks across the globe, sup­plied by ev­ery au­to­mo­tive parts com­pany sell­ing au­to­mo­tive parts world­wide, bought prac­ti­cally ev­ery­where.

Com­peti­tors in­clude (from the same Gen­eral Mo­tors that pro­duces Buicks) the quite lik­able Chevro­let Equinox. Throw in the equally ap­peal­ing Ford Es­cape, Honda CR-V, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-5 and CX-3, and the Fiat 500X — not to men­tion all of the wor­thy and af­ford­able ri­vals from South Korea.

I men­tion all of the for­eign ri­vals be­cause I get an­noyed by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sopho­moric non­sense about “keep­ing au­to­mo­tive jobs in Amer­ica.”

You want to keep those jobs here? Do what GM and Ford fi­nally have de­cided to do. De­sign and build cars and trucks that Amer­i­cans and ev­ery­one else want to buy. It’s the “free mar­ket” that the pres­i­dent and pals con­stantly are rant­ing about.

Cer­tainly, that is what GM is try­ing to do with the En­core. It speaks to a univer­sal au­to­mo­tive con­sumer need — lik­able, sus­tain­able size.

In Ja­pan in many cases, if you don’t have some le­gal space to park your car, you don’t buy it. In Italy, some streets are so nar­row, it is much bet­ter to own a mo­tor­cy­cle. Try to drive down­town in Lon­don in the morn­ing rush hour? Ha! It makes a morn­ing In­ter­state 66 East com­mute from North­ern Vir­ginia to the Dis­trict of Columbia seem al­most pleas­ant.

So, yes, I wel­come Buick’s lit­tle En­core. It is quiet, loaded with all avail­able advanced elec­tronic safety equipment. It has a tur­bocharged 1.4liter, four-cylin­der gaso­line en­gine (138 horse­power, 177 pound-feet of torque). That will get you where you’re go­ing for most of the places I’ve driven in the United States.

Ahem: Be aware that dur­ing this Memo­rial Day week­end in our lovely coun­try, when law en­force­ment of­fi­cers are on high alert, that too much en­gine power eas­ily could lead to a traf­fic ticket any­where you go.

The lit­tle Buick En­core is a nice car. En­joy the ride. Drive re­spon­si­bly.

The En­core speaks to a univer­sal au­to­mo­tive con­sumer need — lik­able, sus­tain­able size.


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