Buick hatches a baby crossover
Atlanta, Ga. — Loved by baby boomers but often overlooked by younger buyers, Buick is attempting to revitalize the brand with the all-new 2013 Encore compact crossover utility vehicle. Despite the gap in the lineup it will fill, and their need to attract more buyers from a younger demographic, it will be a hard sell — the average age of a Buick buyer is 57, but at least they're making some progress: Buick officials boast the age has dropped since it started revamping its vehicles nearly five years ago.

"We have significantly reduced our average age ... In the last five years of business our average age for Buick buyers is down seven years," boasts Tony DiSalle, vice-president, Buick marketing, at the start of our drive in Atlanta.

What will draw the folks in

2013 Buick Encore(Photo: Petrina Gentile)

Price is a big selling feature, which will appeal to younger, cash-conscious Canadians looking to drive home a bargain in a luxury car. The baby Buick starts at only $26,895 for the FWD trim. You can move up to an AWD model for $28,845, an extra $1,950. The base trim comes well-equipped with items such as a rear-vision camera, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, StabiliTrak stability control with traction control, and 10 airbags. The price tops out at $34,455 for an AWD with a premium package that's loaded with 18-inch chrome wheels and technology including a lane departure warning system, rain-sensing wipers, a premium Bose audio system, and forward collision alert.

The Buick Encore is a globally designed, five-passenger, small utility vehicle. From the outside, the Encore features Buick's traditional chrome waterfall grille, nicely sculpted elegant lines and funky blue projector beam headlamps with a tiny Buick tri-shield logo embedded in the lights. Chrome accents cover the body including the portholes on the hood. One minor detail takes away from the look — the 18-inch wheels. Personally, I think the wheels are too small compared to the rest of the vehicle. There's a glaring gap between the fender arches and the tires, which unfortunately draws your eyes to it. Nine exterior colours are available and not all of them boring shades of grey. My tester was ruby red metallic, while other sharp colours such as brilliant blue metallic add another dimension to the look.