The base price for a 2020 Buick Encore GX is $26,098 in Canada, $24,100 in the US.
It slots between the Encore and Envision in Buick’s lineup.
This is a case of not judging a book by its cover.
When the Buick Encore GX was officially introduced almost exactly a year ago, it got many of us to scratch our heads. Despite GM announcing that the GX was longer than the Encore, the physical differences, other than styling, were all but impossible to see.
As far as specifications are concerned, the 2020 Buick Encore GX is 77 mm (3 inches) longer than the Encore (312 mm (12.3 inches) shorter than the Envision). Early on, in pictures, this size difference was impossible to grasp and the news that it was going to be powered by turbocharged 3-cylinder engines did not help expectations. The spruced-up interior and nominal price increase however seemed convincing and realistic.
The fact of the matter is that the 2020 Buick Encore is a considerably different, i.e. much better, vehicle than the Encore. Which, honestly, given the insignificant savings, should never be considered over the GX.
Value and features for the wiser among us
And being a small affordable Buick SUV in North America means that, unlike what Buick would like to see, it will not be purchased by a “young and vibrant” person. What the Encore and Encore GX are doing however is selling well. And the people I noticed sitting onboard made my 44-year-old self look quite young. In many ways, this is exactly who this vehicle was designed for.
Although the 2020 Buick Encore GX is affordable, I get the impression that buyers are springing for top trims as I spotted lots of chrome 18-inch wheels on older Encores which were once reserved for the top trim. The point is that for sensible buyers looking for a loaded, nimble, and efficient small SUV, at $32,598, the Essence AWD is an absolute no-brainer.
For this price, the Encore GX includes leather seats, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, a power passenger seat with power lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, and a few active safety features such as rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change alert. It’s essentially all there. There are a few options packages if so desired. As tested, my unit was fitted with the Experience Buick Package (panoramic sunroof, navigation, and rear vision camera) and the Advanced Technology package (Head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and more) for a grand total of $37,600. Still quite a bargain in my opinion.
Handsome and spacious small SUV
Physically, the 2020 Buick Encore GX is a proud-looking SUV. Despite its small stature, it holds its head up high. The Essence-included LED head- and taillamps deliver an extra sense of purpose and mild prestige to the SUV. Frankly, it’s handsome.
The cabin is cozy and welcoming. Premium touches such as stitching on the doors, the two-tone leather (Signet with Ebony interior accents), and fit and finish are convincing. The interior is plenty roomy for four normal adults and the trunk is generously sized. The Encore GX’s greatest trick is that, once more, despite its diminutive size, it drives like a larger than it actually is.
Big on boost a driving abilities
I’ve experienced a number of 3-cylinder engines in my career and I was thoroughly surprised by the Encore GX’s turbocharged 1.3-litre unit. With 155 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft. of torque (from 1,600 rpm), not only is the SUV unexpectedly peppy but the signature 3-cylinder racket is nearly inaudible. The associated 9-speed automatic transmission is generally brilliant although it is incredibly slow to select reverse for some reason. Expect decent fuel mileage with a returned average of 8.5L/100 km or 28 mpg.
On the road, the 2020 Buick Encore GX also behaves above its weight class. Damping is plentiful while handling is convincing thanks to the independent suspension setup with a Watts link in the rear. For intents and purposes, braking and steering are perfectly suited to the SUV.
Affordable, compact, smart, it’s more than meets the eye
I was quickly won over by this small SUV and became quite persuaded that this is a better product than meets the eye. This sense has since been further reinforced as, as I write these lines, I’m testing a Chevrolet Trailblazer.
As far the Encore GX’s competition goes, consider the Mazda CX-30, the Ford Ecosport, the Nissan Qashqai, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona and perhaps the Lexus UX. With the possible exception of the Mazda, the Buick is the most refined and least compromised size-wise in this makeshift segment.