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2013 Buick Encore Styling

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The Regal and Enclave set some high benchmarks for modern Buick style, but they're bigger cars with more room to play with conflicting design needs. There's not enough sheetmetal on the 2013 Encore to do the same, and it struggles to come off as effortless and detailed at the same time.

It's more of a two-piece combo, one that starts off tough, and tacks up trimly at its tail. The nose has a bulldog's stance, its big tires knuckled down to the ground, with eyes and nose all at about the same height. Chrome-rimmed portholes lay on the hood, almost out of sight from many angles, a good placement.

Bulldog up front, guppy in back: the Buick Encore looks best from head-on, or from inside its cosmopolitan cockpit.

At the back edge of the front doors, the Encore morphs into something nearly completely its own opposite, something more aquilinear. Follow the S-curve stamped through the door panels, up and around the rear glass, and the Encore picks up Mazda cues, even some traces of the old Honda Insight. Then it reverts to a rugged imprint: the tailgate plays up vertical elements in the taillamps, and a small spoiler keeps the roofline going even when the real space beneath has petered out.

The cabin offers a break from the eyework, so long as you stick with a monochrome treatment. In all-black, it's a subdued place, with twin shields on the steering wheel and the center stack, studded with black switches and knobs and buttons, a slight wedge of faux-wood trim, and some metallic-painted trim. It's a new austerity you'll appreciate. Either that, or you'll stray off into interior treatments like the straight-outta-Starbucks two-tone brown that'll have you searching the cockpit for this month's special grind and a WiFi access code. We'd swap its blue ambient lighting for pure-white LEDs, for a softer and richer effect.

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