The Buick Encore shows you exactly where to drive at Caribou

I’ve dinged the curb a few times, but not with the Buick Encore GX Essence. This small crossover provides a handy front-facing camera that not only shows a bird’s eye view of your surroundings but even places red lane indicator overlays to show you the direction of the wheels and exactly where you need to drive to avoid curbs.

The Buick Encore GX Essence parked on a road overlooking a gorgeous mountainous view.
Credit: Buick

I visit Caribou Coffee more than I’d like to admit. 

It’s not a daily ritual but it’s often enough that the person taking my order from the drive-through knows my voice and almost has my perks number memorized. 

In my area, the close confines of the drive-thru lane are a bit problematic, because you can’t see any of the curbs, the road narrows around a tight corner, and it’s hard to judge how close you need to drive to the menu board.

I’ve dinged the curb a few times, but not with the Buick Encore GX Essence. This small crossover provides a handy front-facing camera that not only shows a bird’s eye view of your surroundings but even places red lane indicator overlays to show you the direction of the wheels and exactly where you need to drive to avoid curbs.

The overhead view as the car is backing out of the parking space.
Credit: John Brandon

I used it multiple times, not just at that coffee shop, but pulling into my garage, finding a parking spot at the mall, and multiple drive-thrus. The display changes automatically to show the sightlines you need to inch around curbs, pull forward to the speaker, and edge around a corner on your way to pick up your coffee and bagel sandwich. 

I wish all cars had these automated sight lines, especially for going forward. 

Some do offer a backup cam view off of the rear bumper and include markers for where you should go, based on the steering wheel position. With the Encore, I liked being able to easily switch views to one that shows an overhead angle (stitched from the cameras on all sides of the crossover), only what is in front of the car, or even both of those side-by-side. 

A backup camera view as well as an overhead view side by side shown on screen while backing out of a parking space.
Credit: John Brandon

I tested the Encore by driving as close as possible to a curb and then trying to drive out of the predicament. It only works at lower speeds anyway. It was cool to see such a close view of the road in front of the vehicle and the indicators showing exactly how to angle out of it.

In the future, it made me wonder if cars (especially those similar to the Encore such as the Toyota C-HR) would show more of these indicators at all speeds. Imagine driving in a traffic jam and the car knowing exactly which angle and direction to take, prompting you about the best route based on conditions up ahead. 

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E 53 actually includes this ability (known as car-to-x) in that it can accept input from other cars and the environment itself, although those technologies are not widely available in all areas yet. It’s coming. I like how the Encore is showing what is possible at low speeds and I’m looking forward to the day when these features work in all conditions.