With the crossover sales growing more and more each year, Buick aims to capture more of those sales with the new Buick Encore GX. Slotting in between the smaller, base Encore and the larger Envsion, the Encore GX fills the gaps in Buick’s crossover lineup. While not perfect, there are lots of qualities to like about the Encore GX.
Buick Encore GX – Exterior
The exterior of the Buick Encore GX is a handsome compact crossover with aggressive grille styling up front, and slightly muscular styling found throughout the rest of the Encore GX. Our Encore GX Essence features standard distinct LED daytime running lights and LED headlamps/taillamps. Attractive 18-inch wheels fit well within the black wheel arches that give the Chili Red Metallic paint a nice contrast.
Dimensionally, the Encore GX is bigger in every way over the smaller Encore. Overall length is 171.1 inches with a wheelbase of 102.2 inches.
Buick Encore GX Interior
The 2020 Buick Encore GX is a platform sibling to the hot-selling Chevrolet Trailblazer, and the interior shares more than just a resemblance to its platform partner in terms of look and feel. While the two-tone seats, doors, and dashboard look to move the Encore GX upscale, there are still plenty of cheap looking hard plastic surfaces to be found throughout.
That’s not to say the interior of the Encore GX is a bad place to be because overall it’s quite attractive and comfortable. The cabin is neatly laid out with HVAC and radio controls in easy reach. The large 8-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash is high-resolution and quick to respond to user inputs.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality are standard, as are USB and USB-C ports. A 4G LTE WiFi hotspot and six-speaker sound system are available, with the Essence trim level unlocking access to a seven-speaker Bose sound system. Amazon Alexa functionality has also been integrated into the infotainment system.
The gauge cluster is easy to read and the center info panel displays a wide swath of trip and infotainment information. The switch stalks on the steering column are clearly from the long-used GM parts bin, but they do the job they are designed for.
The heated and 8-way power-adjustable front seats are comfortable for both driver and passenger. Visibility is excellent from all seating positions, and the infotainment system is intuitive to use while minimizing driver distractions.
While the Encore GX is set up for three abreast in the rear seat, it’s best served with limiting occupancy to a maximum of two adults preferably under six-feet tall.
Our Encore GX Essence tester was equipped with a $1,790 Advanced Technology Package that features an HD Surround Vision camera, HUD, adaptive cruise control, and navigation. A $770 convenience package adds automatic parking assist with braking, wireless charging, a rear camera washer, and rain-sensing wipers.
Buick Encore GX Cargo Space
The Buick Encore GX is rated at 23.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the 60/40 rear split seat up, and 50.2 cubic feet of volume with the rear seats fully folded down. A
Buick gave the Encore GX another cargo-hauling party trick by allowing the front passenger seat to fold flat, allowing for an 8-foot load-in if loaded diagonally.
A $520 power liftgate package is available on all Encore GX levels.
Buick Encore GX Driving Impressions
Our Buick Encore GX Essence featured an optional ECOTEC 1.3-liter turbocharged engine which produces 155-horsepower and 174 lb-ft. of torque. At a measly $395, the 1.3-liter engine box should definitely be checked to get away from the standard 137-horsepower 1.2-liter engine.
The 1.3-liter engine is mated to an unrefined CVT transmission which I found to hunt constantly for the right ratio to live in during normal driving, producing quite a bit of NVH in the process. Once at cruising speeds, the engine and transmission silence themselves, and the ride becomes bearable.
The Encore GX has electrically boosted power steering which makes it feel light, but at the expense of any real driver feedback. The Encore GX is reasonably responsive and actually quite agile when pushed through traffic with a little spirited driving. Body roll isn’t noticeable in day to day driving and the car feels very well planted. The suspension does tend to get a little bouncy over imperfect road surfaces, but isn’t overly harsh.
Buick Encore GX Fuel Economy
The targeted demographic of the Buick Encore GX is one that wants the most efficiency they can get out of a vehicle in this segment. The 1.3-liter engine our tester was fitted with is EPA rated fuel economy at 30 city/32 highway/31 combined. Our observed fuel economy was right in the middle at 30mpg overall.
Buick Encore GX Final Impressions
The Buick Encore GX is an imperfect, but still great vehicle that will attract younger buyers who are looking for a responsible but stylish way to get around town. The interior isn’t the most upscale place to be, but the excellent infotainment, comfortable seats, and latest in technology more than make up for it.
The Encore GX also falls a bit short when compared to some of the German counterparts like the Audi Q3 or BMW X1, but those vehicles all cost significantly more than the Buick Encore GX.
Our extremely well equipped Buick Encore GX Essence FWD tester came in with an as-tested price of $33,465 including the $995 destination charge, which makes the Encore GX an excellent value. While not perfect, the Encore GX displays a big heart for being a small car and should be on the shortlist of anyone shopping in this segment.
Buick provided the 2020 Encore GX Essence to Speed:Sport:Life with a full tank of gas for the purpose of review.