2012 NAIAS: Buick Encore takes a bow

  • 10-Jan-2012 10:02 EST
2013 Encore.jpg

With assembly in Bupyeong, South Korea, for the North American market, the body frame integral Buick Encore will ride on 18-in, low-rolling resistance Continental tires.

Engineers garnered vehicle dynamics harmony with the all-new 2013 Buick Encore by tuning the small crossover to cruise roadways with a specific Continental tire.

"We opted for only one tire size, rather than a choice of tire sizes, so that we could optimize the tire with the suspension package. By going with one tire, an all-season 215/55R18, we were able to achieve the 'sweet spot' we wanted for ride and handling, for noise, and for comfort. We didn't have to make any compromises," Buick Encore Vehicle Chief Engineer James Danahy told AEI.

The all-new Encore, which had its world debut at the 2012 Detroit auto show, sports a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs, low-compensated upper mounts, as well as hydraulic ride bushings. In the rear, the double-wall V-shaped tube torsion beam suspension has a cast-iron trailing arm and dual-tube gas-charged shocks.

"And to help with ride and noise control, the vehicle has urethane spring isolators at all four corners," said Danahy, who worked on the vehicle's development program for more than three years.

Encore's sole power source is a 1.4-L turbocharged Ecotec 4-cylinder estimated to deliver 140 hp (103 kW) at 4900 rpm and 148 lb·ft (200 N·m) between 1850 and 4900 rpm. It is the same engine that powers the Chevrolet Cruze Eco midsize sedan. In the Encore application, the engine will mate to a HydraMatic 6T40 six-speed automatic transmission with highway fuel economy of more than 30 mpg expected, according to Danahy.

The five-passenger vehicle has a wheelbase of 100.6 in (2555 mm), a front and rear track of 60.6 in (1540 mm), and a turning radius of less than 37 ft (11.3 m). Encore will use a column-mounted, variable-effort electric power steering system. Built off a global platform, the small crossover will be sold in FWD and AWD versions.

Encore benefits from QuietTuning, the Buick-exclusive engineering process for reducing, blocking, and absorbing cabin noise. As such, the crossover's NVH treatments include an acoustic laminated windshield, triple seals on the doors, an acoustic package on the front of the dash and the floors, as well as sound-absorbing materials under the hood and in the wheelhouse liners.

"But in a first for Buick, the Encore has active noise cancellation to cancel out some of the low-frequency noise," Danahy said about the program developed with technical specialists from Bose.

The active noise cancellation technology uses in-vehicle microphones to detect engine noise. Counteracting sound waves are then sent through the audio system's speakers and subwoofer based on computer processing of the frequencies.

From the safety perspective, Encore will be equipped with 10 standard airbags, including driver and front passenger knee airbags as well as front and rear thorax airbags for all outboard positions. Encore will also offer front and rear park assist, a backup camera, as well as StabiliTrak, GM's electronic stability control system.

For crash-protection purposes, 63% of the underbody structure is comprised of high-strength steels. High-strength steels, including ultrahigh-strength steels, comprise 57% of the upper body.

According to David Lyon, Executive Director of Design for Buick, the interior was designed as a luxurious habitat that underscores customizable storage amid comfortable, personal space.

"We spent a lot of time on the mix and layering of materials. The car features a rich saddle color—almost a coffee-color—on the upper and dark chocolate tones on the lower and in between are layers of warm, satin-plated metal, brushed aluminum, and wood grains. It's really an unexpected combination.

"This is a good example of what we plan to do across the board with all Buicks—offer a very indulgent combination of colors and materials that you can only get inside a Buick vehicle," Lyon told AEI.

The Encore goes on sale in the first quarter of 2013 and will be sold in North America and China.

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