A-List Rides: 2013 Buick Encore AWD

She’s no easy customer, but “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault is my good friend. When she came to town to teach a course at Howard University, I went to meet her at one of my favorite restaurants, Busboys and Poets in downtown Washington, DC.

When I pulled up to the establishment in the 2013 Buick Encore AWD I was testing, her first words were: “What brand of car is that? I like!”

The look on her face when I responded, “it’s a Buick,” is the look most people give when they stop and pay attention to the fact that this new generation of Buicks is not your grandfather’s Buick.

The classic General Motors brand has found of way to marry luxury and practicality in most of its newer vehicles. For the Buick Encore, an all new model for 2013, this compact crossover SUV has the upscale styling and modern amenities all there.

My Encore has a great drive, smooth to operate and easy to maneuver. It’s powered by a 140-hp 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Inside it has all leather interior, comfortable seats and surprisingly spacious for a compact SUV. Among the standard features inside the vehicle include OnStar, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, IntelliLink audio system with 7-inch color touch screen and an oil life monitor. It also has the Buick QuietTuning acoustics package with active noise cancellation.

There are also other incentives like the heated front seats, rearview auto-dimming mirror, rear vision camera, remote start and front fog lamps.

Though the GM music sync program does something weird when I use my iPod in the USB port, the sound system is crisp and powerful thanks to the Bose audio system.

The fuel economy is favorable, offering 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Spin Control: It has a price tag of $27,000 and its well worth its price. If you want the feel of an SUV but the ability to fix into small parking spaces and tiny garage scenarios, this is the car for you.

Industry Status: Grade B+

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