2020 Buick Encore GX – a nice gap filler
Small is the name of the game when referring to the Buick Encore GX. Shoe-horned into the gap between the really small Buick Encore and the Buick Envision, the Encore GX, which came out last year, is just 8 inches longer than the regular Encore. And when you factor in the Encore GX is just 10 inches shorter than the Envision, well, you have to start to wonder the point in the Encore GX. Nonetheless, the keys to a Chile Red Metallic Encore GX were handed to me to see what this subcompact crossover SUV is all about.
Handsome, yet cute, the Encore GX looks much like the original Encore, and really shouldn’t rub anyone the wrong way. Pronounced wheel arches and heavy on the chrome, there is no doubt this is a Buick. And when you look at the entire Buick SUV lineup, the Encore GX fits in nicely.
Step inside and a nice, albeit small, cabin greats you. The interior looks quite impressive even though most of the materials are hard plastics. The large, slightly above-average infotainment screen is standard, with the display being canted up at an angle making it nice, but using it is a little awkward at first.
As you might expect, the small quarters make the seating arrangement a little tight. The front seats are a somewhat narrow and the driving position is a little more upright than I’m used to. The backseat, surprisingly is decent for two people. The Encore GX is listed as a five-seater, but I would suggest keeping the maximum occupancy to four.
Being that this Buick is so small, it doesn’t need a big powerplant to move it around. The base engine is a 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine rated at 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Standard on all-wheel-drive models and optional for front-wheel-drive models with the Select or Essence trim level, is a slightly larger 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder (155 hp, 174 lb-ft). This engine is paired to a CVT on front-drive models, while AWD versions get a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Encore GX is available in three trim levels, with the Preferred being the base model. It comes with heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition and cloth/imitation leather seats. The 8-inch touchscreen, forward collision mitigation and lane departure mitigation systems are all standard. Move up to the Select and the Encore GX is fitted with remote engine start, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, blind spot monitors and dual zone automatic climate control. At the top is the Essence, which is how the front-wheel drive tester arrived. It benefits from LED headlights, heated steering wheel, leather seating, and a power passenger seat. Also on the tester is the optional engine, an advanced technology package that consists of a high definition surround camera, a heads-up display and adaptive cruise control. MSRP on the tester is a $33,465.
Driving the Encore GX is somewhat entertaining. Its small footprint makes it a breeze to handle in heavy traffic. On the open road, the Encore delivers a nice quiet ride. I need to stress quiet because Buick put a lot of effort into making the Encore GX quiet by keeping outside noises from entering the cabin – and it works. For road trips, the Encore GX is sure to win a lot of praise as it practically glides serenely down the highway.
Despite making less than 160 horses, the Encore’s engine feels gutsy and livelier than the numbers suggest. And the CVT transmission, which I’m, still not a fan of, does its job perfectly in the little Buick. At the pump, front-wheel drive Encore GX fares well, getting 30 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
After spending some time with the Encore GX, I found it to be a very nice little SUV. That’s a big emphasis on little because it is. Why someone would chose it over the slightly smaller Encore or slightly larger Envision – is a mystery to me. But if they do, they are getting a nice little Buick.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2020 Buick Encore GX Essence FWD
Base Price: $28,500.00
Price as Tested: $33,465.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 1.3 liter turbocharged three-cylinder
Transmission: CVT automatic
Horsepower: 155 hp
Torque: 174 lb/ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 30 city / 32 highway mpg
[Visit me at www.carsbycar.blogspot.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org]