2020 Buick Encore GX evaluate: Your roots are exhibiting

The GX is certainly extra engaging than the smaller Encore.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Crossovers accounted for 90% of Buick’s US gross sales final 12 months, and with statistics like that, it is smart that Buick will quickly cease promoting sedans altogether. However earlier than that occurs, Buick must bolster its SUV lineup. That is the place the Encore GX is available in.


  • Nice infotainment tech is customary
  • Ample passenger house
  • Highly effective engine and properly tuned suspension

Do not Like

  • Inside supplies aren’t nice
  • Tough engine vibration at idle
  • Dearer than bigger, extra environment friendly opponents

It would sound like only a trim degree of the subcompact Encore crossover, however the GX is in reality a completely new car, driving on a platform shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer — for higher or worse. It squeezes in between the ever-so-slightly smaller Encore and the ever-so-slightly bigger Envision, the latter of which shall be changed by a sharply styled successor in early 2021.

The GX is actually extra good-looking than the little potato that’s the Encore, with customary 18-inch wheels and LED headlights. The model you see right here wears Sport Touring duds — a $1,100 package deal that provides body-colored aspect moldings, distinctive bumpers and a complete bunch of crimson accents within the grille. I may completely do with out the crimson stuff, however the remainder of the Sport Touring getup is definitely reasonably good. Nonetheless, you are seemingly higher off skipping this package deal and saving some cash; I feel the Encore GX is simply as engaging with its customary grey exterior trim.

Stepping inside reveals a good-looking, properly organized cabin, though the nearer you look, the extra flaws you discover. Do not forget the $25,095 Encore GX (together with $995 for vacation spot) is predicated on the $19,995 Trailblazer, and it does not take lengthy to search out proof of these funds roots. If one thing seems like low cost plastic, it’s low cost plastic. And even the extra upscale-looking supplies on the dashboard really feel weirdly rubbery. Particular gadgets just like the flip sign and windshield wiper stalks are the identical low-rent components Common Motors has been utilizing for years, and the remainder of the controls are all simply sort of meh. Buick maintains it is a premium model, and its bigger automobiles are literally fairly good inside — even the smaller Encore will be decidedly extra plush — however the GX’s inside is not any higher (or in some circumstances, worse) than what you will discover in non-luxury opponents just like the Hyundai Kona or Kia Seltos

Fortunately, the GX redeems itself when it comes to total passenger quantity. Because it’s greater than the usual Encore, there’s loads of room for adults in each back and front, and the upright form means headroom is hardly a difficulty. The leather-based seats of my Sport Touring tester are comfy, although they’re reasonably slim and lack any actual aspect bolstering. With the motive force’s seat set for my very best driving place, I’ve a number of house to sit down behind myself (though at 5 ft, Eight inches, I am not precisely what you’d name tall).

The inside is properly laid out, however the supplies are simply so-so.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Sadly, cargo quantity suffers, with the Encore GX providing simply 23.5 cubic ft of house with the rear seats upright, or 50.2 with them folded flat. These numbers simply barely finest the smaller Encore however lag behind different subcompact CUVs, together with the aforementioned Seltos and even the tiny Nissan Kicks. A hands-free energy liftgate is non-compulsory, and it may be set to open to totally different heights.

One of the best factor concerning the Encore GX’s inside is the multimedia tech. Each GX comes customary with Buick’s extremely easy-to-use infotainment system, housed on an 8-inch touchscreen. That is basically a rebranded model of the Chevrolet Infotainment Three suite present in Buick’s company cousin, and that is factor. All the icons are simple to learn, the system responds immediately to inputs and the menus are a cinch to navigate. If you happen to favor to rely by yourself tech, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are customary, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Amazon Alexa integration is obtainable. Embedded navigation is non-compulsory on all Encore GX fashions, however you could possibly additionally simply skip it and let Google Maps or Waze do the heavy lifting.

Customary driver-assistance techniques embrace forward-collision warning with pedestrian braking, computerized emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping help and lane-departure warning. It is a formidable roster of tech for this value. Curiously, although, adaptive cruise management stays non-compulsory, even on the most costly Essence mannequin, the place it is bundled into the $1,790 Superior Expertise Bundle that additionally features a surround-view digital camera, head-up show and navigation. The HD digital camera is the one a part of that package deal price paying for; the head-up show is a kind of dashboard-mounted ones the place a small display screen flips up, and you may hear how low cost this factor is by the groan of its motor and the press because it snaps into place. It is a disgrace Buick does not permit a fascinating choice like adaptive cruise management to be bought by itself. (Or, you recognize, simply make it customary, like so many different non-premium opponents are doing as of late.)

The Encore GX is obtainable with both a 1.2-liter or 1.3-liter I3 engine, each of that are turbocharged. Entrance-wheel drive is customary, and if you would like all-wheel drive, you are compelled into getting the bigger inline-three. I can not communicate to the smaller 1.2-liter I3 and its 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, as my South Korea-built Sport Touring tester has the bigger 1.3, which brings 155 hp and 174 lb-ft to the celebration. No matter engine, front-wheel-drive fashions use a constantly variable transmission, however the 1.3/AWD pairing will get a nine-speed computerized.

The nine-speed transmission operates easily and seamlessly, and with the engine’s full torque punch approaching robust at simply 1,600 rpm, there’s loads of low-end energy for scooting round city. However this engine is not excellent. Little triples like this are sometimes tough by nature, and Buick’s 1.3-liter is not any exception. It sort of chugs like a diesel beneath arduous acceleration, and the engine vibration at idle is powerful sufficient that you would be able to really feel it by the seat and the steering wheel.

The GX’s best powertrain mixture is the 1.3-liter engine with front-wheel drive, which the EPA says ought to return 30 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 32 mpg on the freeway. Including all-wheel drive reduces these numbers to 26 mpg metropolis and 29 mpg freeway, and in case you go for the smaller 1.2T, you are 26 mpg metropolis and 30 mpg freeway. Throughout the board, these aren’t precisely stellar figures, particularly when a bigger, extra highly effective Honda CR-V will return 28 mpg metropolis and 34 mpg freeway. Nonetheless, they’re comparatively simple to attain; I had no drawback seeing about 30 mpg freeway in my AWD tester (although I solely ever drove it in FWD mode).

Pink means sporty, proper?

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Like many different small SUVs, the Encore GX’s all-wheel-drive system is not an always-on affair. The truth is, the GX defaults to front-drive except you press the “AWD” button on the middle console, simply forward of the shifter, at which level torque is distributed to the rear axle. I actually like that the Encore remembers your setting if you shut the engine off — in case you had AWD chosen, it will be turned on if you begin the car once more. The dealing with traits do not actually change between FWD and AWD, both, at the very least on dry pavement.

On the street, the GX is usually advantageous. The steering is extremely gentle and equally devoid of suggestions, however the chassis is properly sorted. The Encore has no hassle absorbing the bumps on Los Angeles’ crummy roads and smooths out the customarily jarring growth joints on the 405 freeway. Physique roll is about common, and the brakes are robust however simple to modulate. The GX will largely spend its life operating errands and commuting in visitors, and for that, it is completely suited.

But the extra time I spend behind the wheel of the Encore GX, the extra I battle to search out its enchantment. My Essence 1.3T AWD Sport Touring tester retails for $36,320 together with vacation spot, and including the remainder of the accessible choices brings it up over $38,000. Positive, that is a number of thousand {dollars} cheaper than a equally geared up Audi Q3, however the Audi’s an actual luxurious car with a considerably higher inside, nicer on-road manners and a bigger suite of tech. For my cash, I would just choose up a completely loaded Honda CR-V Touring which, once more, is bigger, extra highly effective, extra fuel-efficient, nicer inside and gives extra driver-assistance tech, all for a cheaper price ($35,870). Or I would just get a Chevy Trailblazer, as a result of it is basically the identical automobile for much less cash.

The GX is okay in a vacuum, however non-luxury opponents — and the cheaper non-GX Encore — are higher buys.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The GX could be positioned between Buick’s Encore and Envision, however it does not appear to be it was initially designed to fill that function. The cheaper Encore has a extra refined powertrain and nicer inside supplies. The GX, in the meantime, simply feels just like the higher-cost Trailblazer it’s.

There’s nothing inherently flawed with the GX, however except for being a little bit greater and barely higher wanting than the usual Encore, it does not actually appear to enhance upon that package deal. Nonetheless, Buick wants as many new utility automobiles as potential as a way to hold momentum. And till more energizing choices arrive, the Encore GX is at the very least another choice.

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