2020 Buick Encore GX review: Your roots are showing

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The GX is definitely additional interesting than the more compact Encore.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Crossovers accounted for ninety% of Buick’s US sales previous year, and with data like that, it tends to make sense that Buick will soon end advertising sedans altogether. But before that occurs, Buick desires to bolster its SUV lineup. Which is exactly where the Encore GX comes in.

Like

  • Great infotainment tech is conventional
  • Enough passenger room
  • Powerful motor and nicely tuned suspension

Do not Like

  • Interior resources aren’t wonderful
  • Rough motor vibration at idle
  • A lot more pricey than more substantial, additional productive competitors

It may well audio like just a trim degree of the subcompact Encore crossover, but the GX is in point an totally new motor vehicle, using on a platform shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer — for far better or worse. It squeezes in in between the at any time-so-a little bit more compact Encore and the at any time-so-a little bit more substantial Envision, the latter of which will be replaced by a sharply styled successor in early 2021.

The GX is undoubtedly additional handsome than the minor potato that is the Encore, with conventional eighteen-inch wheels and LED headlights. The edition you see in this article wears Sport Touring duds — a $one,one hundred package that adds entire body-coloured aspect moldings, unique bumpers and a complete bunch of red accents in the grille. I could definitely do without the red stuff, but the relaxation of the Sport Touring getup is essentially somewhat nice. Nevertheless, you might be very likely far better off skipping this package and preserving some funds I feel the Encore GX is just as interesting with its conventional gray exterior trim.

Stepping inside of reveals a handsome, nicely structured cabin, whilst the closer you glance, the additional flaws you discover. Do not ignore the $twenty five,095 Encore GX (together with $995 for spot) is centered on the $19,995 Trailblazer, and it will not choose prolonged to discover proof of those people budget roots. If something seems to be like low-priced plastic, it is low-priced plastic. And even the additional upscale-hunting resources on the dashboard sense weirdly rubbery. Particular objects like the switch signal and windshield wiper stalks are the similar very low-rent parts Standard Motors has been working with for years, and the relaxation of the controls are all just sort of meh. Buick maintains it really is a high quality model, and its more substantial vehicles are essentially really nice inside of — even the more compact Encore can be decidedly additional plush — but the GX’s inside is no far better (or in some circumstances, worse) than what you are going to discover in non-luxury competitors like the Hyundai Kona or Kia Seltos. 

Happily, the GX redeems by itself in conditions of total passenger quantity. Because it really is larger than the conventional Encore, there is lots of area for grownups in both equally front and back, and the upright shape usually means headroom is hardly an problem. The leather-based seats of my Sport Touring tester are snug, nevertheless they’re somewhat slim and absence any authentic aspect bolstering. With the driver’s seat established for my great driving placement, I have plenty of room to sit driving myself (whilst at 5 feet, 8 inches, I’m not accurately what you would simply call tall).

The inside is nicely laid out, but the resources are just so-so.


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Sad to say, cargo quantity suffers, with the Encore GX offering just 23.5 cubic feet of room with the rear seats upright, or fifty.2 with them folded flat. These numbers just a little bit very best the more compact Encore but lag driving other subcompact CUVs, together with the aforementioned Seltos or even the tiny Nissan Kicks. A arms-cost-free electric power liftgate is optional, and it can be established to open up to unique heights.

The very best detail about the Encore GX’s inside is the multimedia tech. Each GX comes conventional with Buick’s incredibly straightforward-to-use infotainment system, housed on an 8-inch touchscreen. This is in essence a rebranded edition of the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 suite discovered in Buick’s corporate cousin, and which is a fantastic detail. All of the icons are straightforward to study, the system responds quickly to inputs and the menus are a cinch to navigate. If you prefer to rely on your personal tech, Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle are conventional, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Amazon Alexa integration is offered. Embedded navigation is optional on all Encore GX versions, but you could also just skip it and permit Google Maps or Waze do the large lifting.

Conventional driver-guidance methods consist of ahead-collision warning with pedestrian braking, automatic unexpected emergency braking, rear cross-website traffic inform, blind-place checking, lane-holding help and lane-departure warning. It can be an impressive roster of tech for this price tag. Curiously, nevertheless, adaptive cruise management stays optional, even on the most pricey Essence product, exactly where it really is bundled into the $one,790 Superior Technological innovation Offer that also features a encompass-check out digicam, head-up display screen and navigation. The High definition digicam is the only portion of that package really worth paying for the head-up display screen is a single of those people dashboard-mounted ones exactly where a compact display flips up, and you can hear how low-priced this detail is by the groan of its motor and the click on as it snaps into position. It can be a disgrace Buick will not make it possible for a attractive selection like adaptive cruise management to be obtained on its personal. (Or, you know, just make it conventional, like so many other non-high quality competitors are executing these days.)

The Encore GX is offered with both a one.2-liter or one.3-liter I3 motor, both equally of which are turbocharged. Front-wheel drive is conventional, and if you want all-wheel drive, you might be pressured into finding the more substantial inline-a few. I cannot discuss to the more compact one.2-liter I3 and its 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, as my South Korea-created Sport Touring tester has the more substantial one.3, which brings 155 hp and 174 lb-ft to the get together. Regardless of motor, front-wheel-drive versions use a constantly variable transmission, but the one.3/AWD pairing gets a nine-speed automatic.

The nine-speed transmission operates effortlessly and seamlessly, and with the engine’s total torque punch coming on solid at just one,600 rpm, there is lots of very low-finish electric power for scooting all over city. But this motor isn’t really perfect. Small triples like this are normally rough by mother nature, and Buick’s one.3-liter is no exception. It sort of chugs like a diesel underneath tough acceleration, and the motor vibration at idle is solid plenty of that you can sense it through the seat and the steering wheel.

The GX’s most productive powertrain mixture is the one.3-liter motor with front-wheel drive, which the EPA states should really return 30 miles per gallon in the town and 32 mpg on the highway. Including all-wheel drive minimizes those people numbers to 26 mpg town and 29 mpg highway, and if you go for the more compact one.2T, you might be hunting at 26 mpg town and 30 mpg highway. Across the board, these aren’t accurately stellar figures, primarily when a more substantial, additional highly effective Honda CR-V will return 28 mpg town and 34 mpg highway. Nevertheless, they’re relatively straightforward to attain I had no trouble looking at about 30 mpg highway in my AWD tester (nevertheless I only at any time drove it in FWD method).

Purple usually means sporty, proper?


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Like many other compact SUVs, the Encore GX’s all-wheel-drive system isn’t really an normally-on affair. In point, the GX defaults to front-drive except you push the “AWD” button on the middle console, just ahead of the shifter, at which issue torque is sent to the rear axle. I actually like that the Encore remembers your environment when you shut the motor off — if you had AWD picked, it will be turned on when you get started the motor vehicle once more. The handling attributes will not actually adjust in between FWD and AWD, both, at minimum on dry pavement.

On the road, the GX is largely high-quality. The steering is incredibly light-weight and similarly devoid of feedback, but the chassis is nicely sorted. The Encore has no difficulties soaking up the bumps on Los Angeles’ crummy streets and smooths out the normally jarring enlargement joints on the 405 freeway. System roll is about regular, and the brakes are solid but straightforward to modulate. The GX will mainly expend its daily life functioning errands and commuting in website traffic, and for that, it really is flawlessly suited.

Still the additional time I expend driving the wheel of the Encore GX, the additional I struggle to discover its appeal. My Essence one.3T AWD Sport Touring tester retails for $36,320 together with spot, and including the relaxation of the offered solutions brings it up over $38,000. Confident, which is numerous thousand pounds much less pricey than a likewise equipped Audi Q3, but the Audi’s a authentic luxury motor vehicle with a substantially far better inside, nicer on-road manners and a more substantial suite of tech. For my funds, I might just select up a thoroughly loaded Honda CR-V Touring which, once more, is more substantial, additional highly effective, additional gas-productive, nicer inside of and presents additional driver-guidance tech, all for a decreased price tag ($35,870). Or I might just get a Chevy Trailblazer, due to the fact it really is in essence the similar automobile for much less funds.

The GX is high-quality in a vacuum, but non-luxury competitors — and the less costly non-GX Encore — are far better purchases.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The GX may well be positioned in between Buick’s Encore and Envision, but it will not feel like it was at first created to fill that function. The much less pricey Encore has a additional refined powertrain and nicer inside resources. The GX, meanwhile, just feels like the increased-price tag Trailblazer it is.

There’s practically nothing inherently mistaken with the GX, but apart from remaining a minor larger and a little bit far better hunting than the conventional Encore, it will not actually feel to improve on that package. Nevertheless, Buick desires as many new utility vehicles as probable in get to keep momentum. And right up until fresher choices get there, the Encore GX is at minimum a different selection.