While in the market for an SUV, there are a few things to consider. Among them are your expected driving style, price, performance expectations, and comfort to utility ratio. There are a lot of SUVs competing for your attention, and Buick has a small fleet vying to get you to drive away with them. The newest addition is the 2020 Buick Encore GX. This subcompact is slightly larger than its little brother, the Buick Encore, and comes with a few more premium features and options but still a size smaller than the Buick Envision. Let’s break down what the Encore GX has to offer and see if it measures up to what you need for your next SUV.
The most varied aspect of the SUV driver is their lifestyle. A rugged mountaineer with camping trips booked from now until next year will likely need a very different vehicle than a mother of three trying to get groceries and get everyone to their recitals and soccer practices. Some SUV drivers prefer something luxurious to go on the town in style and comfort, while others want something reliable on cross country trips. Narrowing down what you need your SUV to do is essential in making sure you are putting that new car to work for you.
The 2020 Buick Encore GX performs and handles like an around the town SUV. Nothing under the hood is going to blow you away with its power. We will get more into the specifics of what the GX has to offer in regard to the engine later, but without breaking 160 hp on either engine option and well below 200 lb-ft. torque, this is definitely not built for any kind of off-roading or mean street handling. Additionally, while features in and out are excellent, and certainly give a premium feel, the GX is far from a luxury option that city dwellers may be hoping for. The moderate engine and handling mixed with a nice, but not over the top, interior defines the GX as more of a commuter SUV. This is great for those who don’t expect anything too intense from the engine or anything exceptionally flashy from the interior style.
Something that is always good to get out in the open early is the price. People, generally speaking, like to avoid talking about money. Luckily the Encore GX comes at a modest MSRP starting around $24,100. A few options can bring you just north of $31,000, but as far as cost goes this is pretty affordable. When considering it’s added features compared to the subcompact Buick Encore, this seems like an obvious upgrade for very little extra cash.
Of course, when comparing to other SUVs within the same price range, we see that a lot of high performing competition comes around the same cost as the GX, but don’t count out the Encore GX quite yet. If you can get a good deal, this might be a great option for you if an economic decision is best for you right now.
Mileage may vary when it comes to what you want to get out of your vehicle. For many drivers, as long as it gets you from point A to point B, you probably don’t even know the specifications of your engine. If you are a little more conscientious of it, it can make the difference when shopping for a new car. If you want that feeling of a little growl under the hood and horses when you want to gallop, you have to know what the powertrain has to offer you.
The GX comes with two options for the engine, and I’m going to advise out of the gate: Go for the 1.3L engine. Let me explain. Both are supercharged, thankfully, since their performance ratios aren’t incredibly impressive. The 1.3L engine is not that much larger than the basic 1.2L that comes standard, but it has considerably more horsepower and torque. The 1.3L gets 155 hp compared to the base 137; it also has 175lb-ft of torque in lieu of the 162lb-ft of torque the 1.2L offers.
If you still aren’t expecting you’ll ever need that much horsepower, strangely, the 1.3L also gets better-combined fuel efficiency. The larger option gets 30 MPG city and 32 MPG highway versus the 26 MPG city and 30 MPG highway of the 1.2L engine. This is linked to the continuously variable transmission that comes standard with the 1.2L instead of the automatic 9-speed transmission in the 1.3L engine.
With the price tag to upgrade the engine being relatively low, it seems like an obvious choice to go with the upgrade on almost every metric. Unless, of course, you are trying to save every dollar you can. Even so, the fuel savings, in the long run, may still be better with the 1.3L.
All that being said, the small 3 cylinder engine is still not going to give you that sense of a slumbering beast ready to break free. Even driving around town, acceleration is loud and noticeably a stress on the engine. Handling is okay, but despite being a premium SUV, the drive quality is bumpier than one might expect from a Buick.
Comfort & Utility
Part of the appeal of owning an SUV is the interior style and comfort. If you are going to be driving with your friends and family on a long trip, it is hard to beat the modern convenience that comes with this kind of vehicle. The 2020 Encore GX interior features are upgraded and feel far more luxurious than a standard sub-compact. It is certainly a better interior compared to the basic Encore. There are some nice touches such as the quality stitching on some of the leather accents, and chromed metal borders on the infotainment center that provide a sleek and appealing atmosphere. Not to mention the exterior has more accent lines along the sides than you can shake a stick at and eye-catching red highlights on the grill to give them the ol’ razzle-dazzle. However, if you are expecting a high-end luxury trim for the GX, I don’t anticipate that this will impress you. This feels like a premium vehicle but lacks that glossy, high-end luxury feel.
For your passengers, the back is roomy and comfortable. The seats don’t recline, but the set angle provides a comfortable seating position for those long trips. As an added bonus, if you don’t have any extra passengers but need the extra cargo space, the rear seats lower and flatten to double the already impressive rear space of 23.5 cu-ft. Great for if you need to pack something as long as a surfboard. Overall the GX sports larger than standard cargo space potential and seats comfortably.
The 2020 Buick GX is an interesting addition to the growing family of Buick SUVs. Striking a middle ground between the basic Encore and the larger Envision, the GX feels like a safe and nicely styled sub-compact SUV. However, being in the middle of the road hasn’t left it lacking compared to the many comparable options out there.
Buick seems to be hedging their bets with the sub-compact, but isn’t really pushing the competition with any of their designs. This is a great option if you want a premium feel without the premium price tag, this car is for you since it won’t likely be in as high demand as some of the other SUVs in its class. If you want something with a new look, a little extra room, but nothing too flashy or powerful, this could be the Buick that fits the bill.