Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A white 2020 Buick Encore GX is parked in front of the ocean.

A New Legend in the Buick Stable

Like many luxury car manufacturers, Buick maintains its success by being well in-tune with what customers want out of a vehicle. Therefore, it seemed surprising to many when Buick released the Encore GX in 2020, with the promise that “it’s not exactly like the Encore.” Especially with the Encore still available as a stand-alone model, it became confusing to some consumers what made the 2020 Buick Encore GX stand out from the rest of the SUV lineup.

That is, until they met the Encore GX. While the nomenclature is still a bit tricky, it’s easier to discern one from the other in the Buick lineup. The GX is roomier, classified as a “sub-compact plus” SUV, with 2.7 inches added to the overall length and 1.3 inches in additional width, leaving more room for passengers and cargo. With two engine options and three trims to choose from, the Encore GX also provides greater opportunity for drivers to personalize the vehicle and make it truly their own. All in all, the Encore GX has come out of the gates blazing hot with plenty of power, attractive style, and all the right options.

It Starts Under the Hood

The 2020 Buick Encore GX doesn’t take its road duties lightly, and the engine choices are designed to be compelling. The standard engine for all front-wheel drive models is an Ecotec 1.2L turbocharged inline-3, which offers 137 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a continuously variable transmission, this peppy engine has a fuel economy of 26 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Standard on the Encore GX’s all-wheel drive models, and optional on front-wheel drive is an even zoomier Ecotec 1.3L turbocharged inline-3. This engine offers 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque and is paired with either a continuously variable transmission on front-wheel drive models or a conventional nine-speed automatic transmission on all-wheel drive models. When optioned on the front-wheel drive models, this engine has an astounding fuel economy of 30 mpg and 32 mpg highway. Adding all-wheel drive reduces the fuel economy a bit to 26 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

A blue 2020 Buick Encore GX is driving past a brick building.

The Buick Driver Confidence Package

Buick excels at wrapping drivers in luxury appointments, with a ride that’s designed to be silky smooth and all of the soft-touch features that make driving an outright privilege. But it’s not just the features that help the 2020 Encore GX stand apart from the competition. One area in which Buick is devoted to the customer is in the field of standard safety features. As a result, each Encore GX is equipped with Buick’s Driver Confidence Package.

This suite of sensing features and alerts is designed to keep drivers, passengers, and anyone sharing the road as safe as possible. Included in the Driver Confidence Package is a forward collision alert, which notifies drivers when a pedestrian, vehicle, or object is in the path you’re traveling. Paired with Automatic Emergency Braking and Front Pedestrian Braking, which apply brake pressure to prevent forward-moving collisions, this feature has its eyes on the road at all times.

The Following Distance Indicator also works to prevent tailgating collisions, which can occur even when you think you’re being safe. And when the Encore GX detects its driver crossing lane markers without using the indicator, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning will provide a notification as well as gentle steering correction to prevent swerving into the path of danger. Lastly, the IntelliBeam headlamps with automatic high beam provide continuous visibility without compromising the safety of oncoming traffic. When a vehicle is headed towards you, the auto high beams will turn themselves off.

The white interior of a 2020 Buick Encore GX is shown as two people are in the front seat, opening the sun roof.

Trim By Trim

The 2020 Buick Encore GX is offered in three trim levels: Preferred, Select, and Essence. Each offers a practical 25.3 cubic feet of cargo room, which expands to 50.2 cubic feet when the 40/60 split rear seats are folded down. A manual fold-flat front passenger seat is standard on the Preferred and Select models, while the Essence includes a power-folding seat in its place. All models also include a two-stage load floor, which allows storage for smaller items under the main cargo floor or can be raised to be even with the folded rear seats.

The Preferred trim starts things out in style with a robust standard feature package. This includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, an 8” diagonal Buick Infotainment System with a color touchscreen, one USB A and one USB C charging port, as well as one of each USB port for data, and a cargo cover to protect your belongings from prying eyes. Keyless open and start is standard as well, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear vision camera, compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 4G WiFi hotspot.

There are plenty of options to allow drivers to customize the Preferred experience, as well. The Cold Weather Comfort Package includes a heated and power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated passenger seat, as well as remote ignition. Drivers can also choose to add a sunroof and power liftgate or add the Sport Touring Package for a sleeker body styling, roof rails, and remote engine start.

The mid-level Select models are blessed with the Preferred’s offerings, and add a few of the options as the new standard. This includes heated front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, a ten-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a rear center armrest, remote start, and SiriusXM radio. It also includes even more safety features, adding a blind spot alert system and rear cross traffic alert. Those looking for a little more can add the Advanced Technology Package to the Select trim, which includes a Head-Up Display, High-Definition 360 degree surround vision, adaptive cruise control, rear parking assistance, and a built-in navigation system. The Experience Buick Package combines an HD rear vision camera, a panoramic moonroof, built-in navigation, and 18” Medium Android High Gloss wheels with chrome inserts for all the best, inside and out.

The top-of-the-line Essence trim truly tests the limits of luxury. It comes very well equipped with LED headlamps, leather upholstery, in-cabin air ionizer, power-adjustable and heated driver and passenger seats, heated steering wheel, automatically dimming rearview mirror, and memory settings for two drivers, which saves the seat positioning as well as side mirror angles. Drivers looking to personalize the look of the Essence trim can add the Sport Touring Package or the Black Roof package, which adds a blackout roof, roof rails, and mirrors to the exterior. The hands-free liftgate can also be optioned onto the Essence trim, along with a wireless charging pad, automatic windshield wipers, a premium Bose sound system, and an automatic parking system, which helps guide the vehicle into tight spots without driver activity required.

As one of the newest arrivals to the subcompact plus SUV scene, the 2020 Buick Encore GX is up against some pretty stiff competition that includes its older sibling, the Encore. However, the Encore GX is packed with plenty of power and fun features that help it stand out from the rest of the pack. With its acclaimed standard suite of safety features, luxurious take on the SUV experience, and a long list of options, it’s easy to see why Buick felt the Encore GX was the right new direction for their SUV lineup.