When the 2013 Encore, the latest entry in Buick's return to relevancy, arrived at my house, I immediately recognized all the traditional Buick styling cues: waterfall grille, portholes, and tri-shield emblem. But the first thing I thought of was root vegetable: With its uniquely high roof and diminutive length, the Encore looks more like a sweet potato, perhaps, or a turnip, maybe a yam, rather than a traditional Buick. Instead of longer, lower and wider, it is shorter, higher, and altogether chubbier. And I'm not the only one who noticed. Edmunds.com analyst Jeremy Acevedo says: "The proportions of the Encore are very rare, not matched by many vehicles at all."
In promotional material, Buick calls the Encore "sculpted, elegant, nimble, efficient, and luxurious." While it never once mentions its unusual vertical amplitude, it does concede the Encore is "one of a kind," and it "will turn heads."
The Encore comes by its unusual proportions because General Motors (Fortune 500) has stacked a body large enough for four adults on the platform of a subcompact Chevy Cruze and added sufficient upscale heft to earn a Buick badge. Although designers have tried to disguise the unusual ratio between the tall roof and the short body, the visual impact is unmistakable. ,
How unusual is the Encore? At Fortune's request, Edmunds.com analyzed the length to height ratios of all 332 different models available today. Encore, which is 2.6 times longer than it is tall, ranks 313th in terms of length to height ratio. "Historically these proportions haven't been particularly popular," says Acevedo, "but with the recent trend toward subcompact utilities it might be a trend that becomes more pervasive as automakers look for distinctive and functional design."
We'll see. People with lots of money prefer more traditional proportions: longer and lower. The five cars at the top of the list with the greatest ratio of length to height include a Bentley, Mercedes, Maserati, and two Lamborghinis. To get a better idea about the prospects for the Baby Buick, we looked at the market performance for 14 cars and crossovers that feature even more extreme proportions than Encore:
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