By Peter Perrotta
The mid-sized, two-row, five-seat crossover or SUV vehicles dominate the new car landscape. Just take a look around next time you are out for a drive and you will see testament to that.
Put quite simply they’re everywhere in all different makes and models and shapes and colors. They seem to be what the buying public wants these days.
But, while they all may look alike somewhat. They sure don’t all drive alike.
This week’s On The Road will take a look at two of these aforementioned types of vehicles: the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness and the 2022 Buick Encore GX Essence AWD.
I will examine the Forester first, a vehicle I recently road tested for one week.
The new features on this rugged SUV, designed for the active lifestyle crowd, include an increased ground clearance to 9.2 inches (plus 0.5 inches); upgraded suspension; increased towing capacity to 3,000 pounds; Yokohama all-terrain tires and more.
For a vehicle of this size and price range ($36.015) this is about as rugged as they come folks.
Now, if you are looking for luxury, this is not the make and model for you.
But, if you are looking for a solid, utilitarian vehicle to take camping, kayaking, or off-roading in the Pinelands, this is the crossover you want.
Moreover, it has proven to be an excellent cold weather car that performs quite well it heavy rain, snow or mud.
This model Forester was powered by a 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder engine, horizontally opposed (Boxer) that puts out 182 horsepower at 5,800 rpm.
The engine is paired with a CVT (continuously variable transmission).
In the power department I would say this vehicle performs adequately under most traffic conditions. If I were to be picky, I would say it’s a tad underpowered when it comes to trying to accelerate quickly.
The EPA fuel consumption ratings for this Forester come in at 26 miles per gallon overall, 25 in city driving and 28 on the highway.
The base price of the Forester Wilderness is $32,820.
The tester has an option package added for $1,850, $220 for engine under guard and $1,125 for destination and delivery.
The option package includes Subaru Starlink an 8.0 inch touch screen navigation system; Harmon Kardon premium audio sound system; reverse automatic braking and a power rear gate.
Overall, for the price, this Subaru is well worth it and should be a top consideration in this segment.
2022 Buick Encore GX Essence AWD
While this is in the same class or type of vehicle as the Forester, it is a completely different type of vehicle.
I don’t see too many people who may be interested in an Encore GX who were thinking of going off-roading with it. While you could probably do some minor off-roading adventures with a vehicle like this, anything heavy duty would not be recommended.
The Encore GX is a two-row, five-seat crossover that is a bit bigger than the regular Encore.
It leans more towards a luxury-styled vehicle but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it that, because it really doesn’t compare favorably with the German luxury imports in this same segment.
The Buick Encore GX Essence (the top of the line trim in this model) is a pleasant enough riding crossover that has a bit of a luxury feel to it, but is a bit underpowered when it comes to performance.
The Encore I road tested for one week was powered by a 1.3-liter, three cylinder turbo charged engine that is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
This engine puts out an underwhelming 155 horsepower.
Do you think the folks at GM could have fit just one more cylinder in the engine to maybe give this vehicle a bit of boost?
As is, this is a very mediocre crossover when it comes to the power and performance department.
But, not all drivers are into that type of driving and if you aren’t, then this might be the proper crossover for you.
The base price of this model is $30,600. The bottom line sticker price on my test model came in at $35,370.
Added options included $1,790 for an advanced technology package; $770 for a convenience package; $595 for a hands free power liftgate and more.
The EPA fuel consumption ratings for the Essence are 27 miles per gallon overall – 26 mpg in city driving and 29 on the highway.
The EPA estimates that it will cost about $1,300 per year in fuel as it uses 3.7 gallons of gas per every 100 miles.
The vehicle got an impressive five star out of a possible five in the government’s overall crash test ratings.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears every other week.
This column is sponsored by Capital Motor Cars of Springfield, N.J.