I woke to a slight drizzle, but even through the rain droplets on the window, I could still see the 2018 Buick Encore parked in front of the tiny house I stayed in during my first night in Mt. Hood, Oregon.
Like the Encore that Buick had loaned me for the weekend, my house in the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village was compact yet charming in décor. I was most impressed by how ingeniously designed it was to fit the storage needs for multiple guests. (This micro home had four beds!) After quickly getting dressed, I started the small luxury SUV from my phone with the MyBuick app, bade farewell to my tiny lodgings and headed to the Buick Encore for what would be a wonderful day-long adventure.
The cold rain continued as I drove through Oregon, but I was dry and warm thanks to cozy heated seats. As a Texas gal, I’ve driven in a rainstorm or two, but I was impressed with the Buick’s intelligent and lightweight AWD system which transferred torque between the rear wheels preventing any slippage and smooth riding as I drove down the highway.
Eventually, I made it to the Historic Columbia River Highway, the United States’ first scenic highway, built in 1917. The 75-mile scenic drive was built perfectly within the natural landscape of the Columbia River Gorge so it is framed on one side by cliffs and the other side by the Columbia River—a sight that was almost too beautiful to be true. With a 1.4L turbo engine, I zipped down the highway in the Buick Encore, admiring every view around every corner.
At one point, I turned off the music and drove in silence just admiring the scenery. With Signature QuietTuning and Bose Active Noise Cancellation, highway noise was non-existent and I was left to appreciate in silence one of the most beautiful places in the United States.
The rain let up on my first stop, Bridal Veil Falls. It was a short hike to the waterfalls and easily done on the paved path, despite some stairs. I enjoyed some time admiring the lush greenery of the forest on the way to and from the falls, a rarity in most parts of Texas.
Before leaving Bridal Veil Falls, I looked around Bridal Veil Lodge, which was an old auto camp during the heyday of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Today, it has been turned into a chic and stylish bed-and-breakfast. As I drove away, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the Buick Encore’s OnStar and built-in Wi-Fi. It was hard to imagine an era when the earliest road trippers were probably surprised to find an auto lodge as they explored the historic highway!
My next stop was Multnomah Falls, a 620-foot tall waterfall that had drawn a large crowd, and it wasn’t hard to see why. Standing below the falls, it felt like I stood in front of a giant or a god, as the magnitude, force and elegance of the falls held our human attention.
Afterwards, I turned back, stopping at Sugarpine Drive-In. Thanks to the small size of the Buick Encore, I easily navigated through Sugarpine Drive-In’s drive-thru for a milk shake, taking note of the charming outdoor patio and great location for a hike along the river.
As I made my way back to the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village, I pulled over at a scenic lookout next to the river. I sat in the Buick Encore looking at the massive Columbia River, a calm and icy blue body of water complemented by green mountains and trees, and finished my milkshake, marveling over my wonderful day and the SUV I drove.
Buick is a car company that has produced a long line of cars and SUVs that have been beloved by generations. (My grandpa hated selling a Buick he’d had for decades, always commenting on how dependable it was.) Driving a 2018 Buick Encore through Oregon allowed me to see the beauty of the Buick brand and the reliability of a SUV, even one as compact or “small” as the Encore.
Thanks to the small luxury style of the Buick Encore, I zipped and zoomed along the highway and easily fit into crowded parking lots at the waterfalls. With safety features like a Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Side Blind Zone Alert, I never worried about quickly pulling over at a scenic outlook to take pictures or admire views.
Yes, we like to say that everything is bigger in Texas, but my trip along the Columbia River Highway in Oregon reminded me that small SUVs like the Buick Encore, can still have a place in our big ol’ state.
Alex Temblador is a novelist and travel writer based in Dallas. Her work has appeared in outlets including Oyster, Matador Network, Culture Trip and the Huffington Post. @alextemblador