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As far back as August 2009 Buick released a teaser of a compact crossover that was essentially a rebadged version of the now obsolete Saturn Vue.
The only major difference between the two was a Buick-style waterfall grille, and that rubbed consumers, dealers and many in the media the wrong way and subsequently plans for the vehicle were canceled.
However, Buick never gave up on the idea and in May of last year announced that it would still be launching a new compact crossover.
Today, at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, the covers have finally come off the vehicle, the 2013 Buick Encore compact crossover due in showrooms early next year.
The Encore continues Buick’s latest practice of co-designing its vehicles with Europe’s Opel division, which will get its own version, possibly labeled a “Mokka”, later in the year.
The contemporary styling of the Encore isn’t offensive, and those small vents below the headlights don’t look as odd as they did in the previous teaser images. Up front, there's a dark-gray waterfall grille flanked by projector beam headlights that incorporate a blue ring similar in style to the Enclave. The wheel wells are filled with standard five-spoke 18-inch painted alloy wheels with seven-spoke chrome wheels remaining an option.
Inside, there’s a premium looking dash that flows into the door panels. The cabin also features a standard seven-inch color LCD display that works with the available navigation system and Buick's IntelliLink voice-activated system, the latter also coming as standard. Below the screen is a closely clustered array of buttons, similar in fashion to that of the new Verano sedan.
While it may look small, there’s plenty of room inside, according to Buick. The automaker claims the Encore can seat five adults and offer up to 48.4 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats folded. This drops to 18.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are in place.
Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine rated at 148 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Drive is sent to the wheels via a six-speed automatic which features both a steep first gear and tall overdrive gear. Combined, these two features help with acceleration and overall fuel economy, though fuel economy ratings have not yet been released. Buick hasn't specified whether the Encore will offer all-wheel drive but expect it to be an option, with front-wheel drive remaining standard.
Premium features either included as standard or available are remote vehicle start, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a Bose stereo, a heated and leather-trimmed steering wheel, a power-adjusted driver’s seat, a backup camera, and an active noise-canceling sound system that operates by counteracting sound waves of outside noises through the audio system’s speakers and subwoofer.
Buick is targeting the likes of the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 compact crossovers, and while neither of these are currently sold in the U.S., the X1 is coming and the Q3, which is also on show in Detroit this week, is likely to follow.
To see what else the 2012 Detroit Auto Show has to offer, click here.