Buick has many attractive and comfortable crossovers. The all-new Encore GX is one of them. Although the 2020 Buick EncoreGX sounds like a trim level for the compact Buick Encore, it actually comes as its own model, a larger version that sits below the compact Buick Encore. With its efficient packaging and purposeful design, the Encore GX is Buick’s latest entry into the crossover market. It shares the same mechanical design as the Chevrolet Trailblazer, and both share their two available powertrains which include turbocharged 3-cylinder engines.
What’s new for 2020?
The Encore GX is a new model from Buick, despite its familiar name. The vehicle comes with 18-inch wheels, roof rack side rails and SiriusXM satellite radio. It also features an eight-way power adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a rear-seat center armrest. The Experience Buick package includes navigation and a power moonroof. An optional all-wheel drive option is available and costs $2000 more than any Encore GX.
Performance, Transmission and Engine
Two turbocharged, three-cylinder engines power the Encore GX. A 1.2-liter engine produces 137 horsepower, while the optional 1.3-liter makes 155 ponies. This engine is available with either a continuously variable auto transmission (CVT), or front-wheel drive. The more powerful engine can be found on higher-end front-drive models but it is included in every Encore GX with all wheel drive. The slightly larger engine only uses a nine speed automatic transmission. The Encore GX with all-wheel driving, the nine-speed manual, and the larger 1.3 liter four-cylinder took a sluggish 9.3 seconds to reach 60 MPH on our track. The Encore GX’s luxury-branded competitors-the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Volvo XC40-have more powerful engines and much faster acceleration times. The Encore GX feels more powerful than its acceleration results would suggest. This is especially true around town, where the turbo engine produces good low-end torque. Although the Buick’s ride is smooth and controlled, it doesn’t provide any handling thrills.
Fuel Economy and Real World MPG
Ironically, the EPA rates the larger engine with the best fuel economy. The turbocharged 1.3 liter engine is capable of achieving up to 32 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive and the CVT. The smaller 1.2-liter engine yields 30 mpg. The 1.3-liter model with all-wheel drive and the 9-speed automatic delivers 29 mpg. On our 200-mile highway fuel efficiency test route, Encore GX with the larger engine and all-wheel drive managed 30 mpg. This beats the EPA’s estimate of 1 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, & Cargo
The Encore GX has a quiet cabin with leather upholstery and heated seats. It also offers more space than the smaller Encore. Buick’s market position straddles luxury and mainstream. It’s more equipped than the base-level Nissan Kicks or Subaru Crosstrek versions, but doesn’t offer the same level in fit-and-finish as the Audi and BMW. To make loading longer items easier, the Encore GX’s front passenger seat can be folded flat. We expect the Encore’s rear cargo area will be larger than the smaller Encore. Five carry-on suitcases were placed behind the GX’s rear seats, and 16 when the rear seats are folded. This is a small difference from the slightly larger Cadillac XT4.
Connectivity and Infotainment
The infotainment system includes a touchscreen with integrated features that can be used to control the car’s audio and video. It also comes standard with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a mobile Wi Fi hotspot. Encore GX uses GM’s new infotainment interface. It is quick to respond and easy to use. Buyers can also choose a head-up display and a 360-degree high-definition camera system.