Buick Encore In Snow & Winter Driving? (Solved & Explained)

The Buick Encore is a small, luxury SUV equipped with a myriad of advanced technologies.

A stylish, slick looking vehicle boasting excellent safety features, modest fuel consumption and ample storage space, the Encore is a popular choice.

In this article, we analyze the Encore’s performance in snow and winter conditions…

Here is the short answer about whether the Buick Encore is good for snow and winter driving:

Available with All-Wheel-Drive, the Buick Encore is a good choice for snow and winter driving conditions. Features such as electronic stability control (StabiliTrak), 4-wheel antilock disc brakes with ABS and a ground clearance of 7.5 inches contribute to a safer winter driving experience.

Is a Buick Encore Good in the Snow?

The Buick Encore is a fun sized, compact, crossover SUV, and it can hold its own in snow pretty well.

It has a ground clearance of 7.5” and whilst it is lower than that of bigger models it can still handle a decent amount of snow.

The Encore is offered in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, and so if you are planning on driving in snowy conditions it is recommended you opt for the AWD model.

All-wheel drive can help a car get moving in the snow because it increases the odds that at least one of the tires is going to gain traction.

However, all-wheel drive does not help a vehicle brake faster or decrease stopping distance in the snow and ice.

You can improve the performance of your Buick Encore in the snow by swapping out the stock tires for dedicated winter tires.

This is a great modification to make and even more so if you have a non-AWD Encore and don’t want the extra cost of upgrading to AWD.

You may also be interested in our article: how long do Buick Encore last?

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

While you cannot compare it to a big SUV or truck, the Buick Encore can certainly hold its own in winter driving conditions.

At the very least, you can safely drive in snow with this model.

From our research, here are features on the model that work to improve winter driving capabilities:

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

To give you more confidence on icy, wet or uneven roads, StabiliTrak automatically intervenes when it senses loss of traction to help you maintain control.

It’s important to note that all electronic control systems are a type of traction control, but not all traction control systems are electronic stability control systems.

StabliTrak (ECS) used in the Encore, is a cut above your average traction control system.

Traction control can be defined as any system that uses one or more sensors to tell the car when one wheel is slipping.

The goal of which, is to prevent the tire from spinning under hard acceleration.

Upon receiving the signal, the car then applies the anti-lock brakes to the slipping side.

This diverts power to the non-slipping side in order to keep the vehicle moving forward. 

StabiliTrak does all this and much more.

Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)

When traction is limited, such as on roads covered in snow or ice, ABS is an incredibly useful feature.

During hard braking or on slippery surfaces, a driver may apply a braking force that is greater than the tires capacity to grip.

If this happens the wheels can ‘lock up’, causing the vehicle to skid out of control.

By preventing this lock-up the vehicle stops sooner and remains under the drivers control.

The anti-lock brakes on the Encore provides this assistance.

Heated Power Outside Mirrors

A handy winter feature on the Encore is the heated power outside mirrors.

The mirrors can quickly melt snow and ice build-up and keep them clear in the colder climates.

These come as standard on the Encore and they also come equipped with turn signal indicators.

Side Blind Zone Alert

This is an ad on feature and does not come as standard on the Encore, the aim is to help the driver avoid any lane change collisions.

Side Blind Zone Alert can provide side-mirror visual alerts when a moving vehicle is detected in the side blind zone.

In winter driving when visibility is often hampered, this is an excellent safety feature, however, as with all safety features, there is no substitute for careful, vigilant driving.

Forward Collision Alert

Forward collision alert is not a standard feature of the Encore however it is available as an add on feature.

The alert system can warn you if it detects a potential front-end collision with a vehicle you’re following so you can quickly take action.

It can also provide a tailgating alert if you’re following a vehicle much too closely, this is especially important in the winter as stopping distances are greatly reduced in icy wet roads.  

Does a Buick Encore Have Snow Mode?

Some car models feature a Snow Mode which typically adjusts the engine throttle and transmission to launch your car with reduced torque and power. The goal of this is to help manage wheel spin.

The Buick Encore does not have a Snow Mode, however it does host a number of features that can aid its winter driving ability.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on a Buick Encore?

The Encore is available to have additional snow gear installed.

It is highly recommended to install snow tires onto the Encore in order to maximize the amount of grip that it has in slippery conditions. Upgrading the factory standard tires will be one of the most important adjustments you can make for winter driving.

These are various pieces of snow gear you can fit to a Buick Encore:

  • Snow tires
  • Studded tires
  • Snow chains
  • Snow socks

An important caveat to bear in mind is that some states allow the use of snow socks, while others prohibit it. Furthermore, some places mandate the use of snow chains, whilst it is completely optional in other places. Do your due diligence and background research before you invest any snow gear.

It is important to ensure that any additional snow gear purchased is compatible with your vehicle. Failing to do so can negatively impact ride quality, handling and compromise safety.

Related: 10 Most Common Buick Encore Problems (Explained)

How Much Snow Can an Encore Handle?

With a ground clearence of 7.5 inches, the Encore is suitable for moderate snowfall, however it would struggle with any snow deeper than 6 inches.

How Do Encores Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Buick Encore handles the cold temperatures reasonably well.

The modern technology incorporated in the engine means there’s no need to excessively warm the engine up in colder temperatures, nor will it need multiple starts before firing up.

The heated seats and steering help to keep its driver and passengers warm and comfortable in cold conditions as well.

The Encore comes fitted with a heater/defroster as standard.

Can an Encore Drive on Ice?

The Encore can drive on ice at very slow speeds.

With studded tires, smooth careful use of the throttle and steering, the Encore will be able to gently make its way down an icy road. 

Studded ice tires are an absolute necessity in these types of conditions.

The AWD system has an electronic limited-slip differential that transfers power between wheels to reduce wheel spin, ideal for icy conditions.

You may also be interested in our article: Chevrolet Trax in snow and winter driving

Does the Encore Have 4WD?

4WD systems are good for dealing with very deep snow and for off-road driving.

The Encore is available in both FWD and AWD, and does not feature four wheel drive.

What About Older Encore Models and Winter Driving?

Older models of the Buick Encore are also a good choice for winter driving, and can perform well in light to moderate snow conditions.

Since debuting in 2012, the Encore has incorporated some excellent safety features including tire-pressure monitors, anti-lock brakes and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control and rollover mitigation. 

The All-wheel drive option is available in the older models also, this enhances safety in slippery conditions.

Please also read our article: BMW X3 in snow and winter driving

Do Encores Need Snow Tires?

Yes, the Encore will definitely need snow tires if it will be driving in cold, wintry conditions.

Snow tires are uniquely designed to improve traction in snowy and icy conditions. Regular tires are not.

The main features that set winter tires apart from regular tires are:

  • Rubber composition
  • Tread depth
  • Pattern (wider grooves)
  • Biting edges

The benefits of snow tires are:

  • They enable safer braking
  • They provide optimal traction
  • They offer more controlled handling
  • They prevent hydroplaning

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Buick Encore?

Given the Encore’s slightly smaller, subcompact SUV size and lack of 4WD, we would advise against plowing with it.

If plowing with your Encore is necessary, consult with a mechanic for guidance on what snowplow to buy and how to install it properly.




  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...