2020 Buick Encore GX review: Your roots are showing

The GX is absolutely additional desirable than the scaled-down Encore.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Crossovers accounted for 90% of Buick’s US profits last year, and with stats like that, it helps make perception that Buick will shortly quit advertising sedans entirely. But prior to that happens, Buick requirements to bolster its SUV lineup. That’s the place the Encore GX arrives in.

Table of Contents


  • Excellent infotainment tech is typical
  • Sufficient passenger area
  • Strong engine and properly tuned suspension

Will not Like

  • Interior materials are not excellent
  • Rough engine vibration at idle
  • Much more high priced than more substantial, additional successful rivals

It may possibly seem like just a trim level of the subcompact Encore crossover, but the GX is in fact an solely new vehicle, riding on a system shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer — for improved or even worse. It squeezes in amongst the at any time-so-somewhat scaled-down Encore and the at any time-so-somewhat more substantial Envision, the latter of which will be replaced by a sharply styled successor in early 2021.

The GX is absolutely additional handsome than the minor potato that is the Encore, with typical eighteen-inch wheels and LED headlights. The edition you see right here wears Activity Touring duds — a $1,100 bundle that adds body-coloured facet moldings, unique bumpers and a full bunch of purple accents in the grille. I could absolutely do with no the purple things, but the relaxation of the Activity Touring getup is basically relatively great. Still, you are very likely improved off skipping this bundle and preserving some money I believe the Encore GX is just as desirable with its typical gray exterior trim.

Stepping inside of reveals a handsome, properly structured cabin, though the nearer you look, the additional flaws you uncover. Will not forget the $25,095 Encore GX (such as $995 for location) is dependent on the $19,995 Trailblazer, and it does not consider prolonged to uncover evidence of those people spending plan roots. If anything seems like affordable plastic, it is affordable plastic. And even the additional upscale-wanting materials on the dashboard come to feel weirdly rubbery. Particular merchandise like the transform sign and windshield wiper stalks are the similar minimal-lease pieces Common Motors has been making use of for many years, and the relaxation of the controls are all just type of meh. Buick maintains it can be a high quality brand, and its more substantial automobiles are basically quite great inside of — even the scaled-down Encore can be decidedly additional plush — but the GX’s interior is no improved (or in some situations, even worse) than what you will uncover in non-luxury rivals like the Hyundai Kona or Kia Seltos. 

Fortunately, the GX redeems alone in phrases of over-all passenger quantity. Given that it can be even larger than the typical Encore, there’s loads of area for grown ups in equally entrance and again, and the upright form signifies headroom is rarely an concern. The leather seats of my Activity Touring tester are cozy, however they are relatively narrow and lack any genuine facet bolstering. With the driver’s seat established for my suitable driving placement, I have loads of area to sit at the rear of myself (though at 5 ft, 8 inches, I’m not specifically what you would phone tall).

The interior is properly laid out, but the materials are just so-so.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Sad to say, cargo quantity suffers, with the Encore GX giving just 23.5 cubic ft of area with the rear seats upright, or fifty.two with them folded flat. Individuals numbers just somewhat ideal the scaled-down Encore but lag at the rear of other subcompact CUVs, such as the aforementioned Seltos or even the tiny Nissan Kicks. A palms-totally free ability liftgate is optional, and it can be established to open to unique heights.

The ideal issue about the Encore GX’s interior is the multimedia tech. Every GX arrives typical with Buick’s incredibly effortless-to-use infotainment program, housed on an 8-inch touchscreen. This is effectively a rebranded edition of the Chevrolet Infotainment three suite uncovered in Buick’s company cousin, and that’s a good issue. All of the icons are effortless to go through, the program responds quickly to inputs and the menus are a cinch to navigate. If you choose to rely on your possess tech, Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile are typical, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Amazon Alexa integration is out there. Embedded navigation is optional on all Encore GX types, but you could also just skip it and let Google Maps or Waze do the heavy lifting.

Common driver-help programs involve forward-collision warning with pedestrian braking, automated crisis braking, rear cross-website traffic inform, blind-location checking, lane-keeping guide and lane-departure warning. It truly is an remarkable roster of tech for this price tag. Curiously, however, adaptive cruise control stays optional, even on the most high priced Essence product, the place it can be bundled into the $1,790 Innovative Technological innovation Package that also includes a surround-see digital camera, head-up show and navigation. The Hd digital camera is the only section of that bundle worth shelling out for the head-up show is a single of those people dashboard-mounted types the place a compact screen flips up, and you can listen to how affordable this issue is by the groan of its motor and the click as it snaps into spot. It truly is a shame Buick does not make it possible for a fascinating alternative like adaptive cruise control to be procured on its possess. (Or, you know, just make it typical, like so quite a few other non-high quality rivals are performing these times.)

The Encore GX is out there with possibly a 1.two-liter or 1.three-liter I3 engine, equally of which are turbocharged. Front-wheel push is typical, and if you want all-wheel push, you are compelled into obtaining the more substantial inline-3. I can’t communicate to the scaled-down 1.two-liter I3 and its 137 horsepower and 162 pound-ft of torque, as my South Korea-constructed Activity Touring tester has the more substantial 1.three, which delivers 155 hp and 174 lb-ft to the celebration. Regardless of engine, entrance-wheel-push types use a constantly variable transmission, but the 1.three/AWD pairing gets a 9-velocity automated.

The 9-velocity transmission operates easily and seamlessly, and with the engine’s whole torque punch coming on solid at just 1,600 rpm, there’s loads of minimal-conclude ability for scooting around town. But this engine just isn’t fantastic. Tiny triples like this are generally tough by character, and Buick’s 1.three-liter is no exception. It type of chugs like a diesel below hard acceleration, and the engine vibration at idle is solid adequate that you can come to feel it by way of the seat and the steering wheel.

The GX’s most successful powertrain mix is the 1.three-liter engine with entrance-wheel push, which the EPA says must return thirty miles for every gallon in the metropolis and 32 mpg on the highway. Including all-wheel push lowers those people numbers to 26 mpg metropolis and 29 mpg highway, and if you go for the scaled-down 1.2T, you are wanting at 26 mpg metropolis and thirty mpg highway. Across the board, these are not specifically stellar figures, especially when a more substantial, additional effective Honda CR-V will return 28 mpg metropolis and 34 mpg highway. Still, they are rather effortless to obtain I had no challenge looking at about thirty mpg highway in my AWD tester (however I only at any time drove it in FWD manner).

Pink signifies sporty, proper?

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Like quite a few other compact SUVs, the Encore GX’s all-wheel-push program just isn’t an usually-on affair. In fact, the GX defaults to entrance-push until you push the “AWD” button on the middle console, just in advance of the shifter, at which stage torque is despatched to the rear axle. I actually like that the Encore remembers your location when you shut the engine off — if you had AWD selected, it’ll be turned on when you start off the vehicle again. The dealing with features will not actually improve amongst FWD and AWD, possibly, at minimum on dry pavement.

On the street, the GX is largely high-quality. The steering is incredibly light-weight and similarly devoid of feedback, but the chassis is properly sorted. The Encore has no problems soaking up the bumps on Los Angeles’ crummy roads and smooths out the generally jarring expansion joints on the 405 freeway. Physique roll is about normal, and the brakes are solid but effortless to modulate. The GX will largely spend its lifestyle operating errands and commuting in website traffic, and for that, it can be completely suited.

Still the additional time I spend at the rear of the wheel of the Encore GX, the additional I battle to uncover its appeal. My Essence 1.3T AWD Activity Touring tester retails for $36,320 such as location, and adding the relaxation of the out there possibilities delivers it up more than $38,000. Certain, that’s many thousand dollars a lot less high priced than a in the same way geared up Audi Q3, but the Audi’s a genuine luxury vehicle with a significantly improved interior, nicer on-street manners and a more substantial suite of tech. For my money, I might just decide on up a absolutely loaded Honda CR-V Touring which, again, is more substantial, additional effective, additional gasoline-successful, nicer inside of and provides additional driver-help tech, all for a reduce price tag ($35,870). Or I might just get a Chevy Trailblazer, since it can be effectively the similar auto for a lot less money.

The GX is high-quality in a vacuum, but non-luxury rivals — and the less expensive non-GX Encore — are improved purchases.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The GX may possibly be positioned amongst Buick’s Encore and Envision, but it does not feel like it was at first built to fill that position. The a lot less high priced Encore has a additional refined powertrain and nicer interior materials. The GX, meanwhile, just feels like the better-charge Trailblazer it is.

You can find almost nothing inherently completely wrong with the GX, but aside from currently being a minor even larger and somewhat improved wanting than the typical Encore, it does not actually feel to increase on that bundle. Still, Buick requirements as quite a few new utility automobiles as feasible in order to retain momentum. And until eventually fresher choices arrive, the Encore GX is at minimum an additional alternative.