Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A close up of the front of a grey 2022 Buick Encore GX is shown.

Let’s Get to Know the Buick Encore GX

Although it might’ve sounded like a trim for another Buick model (the recently discontinued Encore), the Encore GX is very much its own thing and it has established itself since its release as one of Buick’s most popular offerings. Before you head to your local Buick dealer in search of an Encore GX, it’s worth taking some time to learn more about this model and everything it has to offer. Long gone are the days when you had to simply go to a dealership and hope you were met by a friendly salesperson who actually knew what they were talking about. Now you have a huge wealth of resources available to you when researching the vehicle you want.

The trick, of course, is being able to navigate all of those resources to find the information you need so you can go into buying a car with an informed opinion. Manufacturer websites aren’t always easy to navigate, and dealership sites are often more focused on selling you something than teaching you about their cars. But that’s why I’m here. I’ll take you through what the Buick Encore GX has to offer and look at its trim levels to see which one might best meet your needs. After that, the rest is up to you.

Buick Encore GX Basics

Before we start digging into many of the details on different Encore GX models, let’s get into some of the basics about this model. The Encore GX is a small crossover; with the elimination of the Encore from its lineup, Buick has made this the smallest vehicle it offers and the starting option if you’re looking for a Buick. It’s a two-row model with seating for up to five people, and it has the lowest starting price for any Buick, again making it the starting option if you’re interested in this prestigious brand.

In terms of size, the Encore GX is about 171 inches in length and 71 inches in width. For comparison, the compact Buick Envision is more than 182 inches long and stands more than 74 inches wide. You’ll find 23.5 cu.ft. of cargo volume in the rear of the Encore GX behind the second row of seats, with more than 50 cu.ft. of total cargo space available behind the front seats. Overall, this is a great option if you’re looking for a small vehicle that’s easy to fit into just about any lifestyle or if you need something that you can maneuver through crowded city streets and that can fit easily into any parking spot.

A white 2023 Buick Encore GX is shown parked on a city street with brightly colored buildings.

Engine Options and Performance

Now let’s talk about engines because there are two engines available for the Encore GX, but your options aren’t entirely freeform. The standard engine is a 1.2L EcoTec Turbo I-3 that delivers 137 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, which is a bit low, but it’s not unreasonable for a crossover this small. If you want greater power, then there’s a 1.3L EcoTec Turbo I-3 that boosts performance up to 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Both of these engines come with a Continuously Variable Transmission, which some people like and others aren’t as fond of, but either way, it gets the job done. I should also mention that front-wheel drive is standard on all Encore GX models, but you can get all-wheel drive with the 1.3L engine if you prefer.

The tricky thing with these two engines is that your choice of trim has a big impact on which one you can get. With the starting Preferred trim, you can only get the standard 1.2L engine. If you go with the upgraded Select trim, then you can choose either engine, but if you go all the way up to the Essence trim, then you can only get the enhanced 1.3L engine. I always prefer having options rather than being shoehorned into a particular decision, but I can see why Buick decided to do things this way. Both engines are highly efficient. They get an estimated 30 MPG combined fuel economy with an estimated 29 MPG in the city—the 1.3L engine is estimated to get one extra MPG on the highway, but they’re practically identical.

Standard Features – The Encore GX Preferred

Now that we have a framework for what this crossover offers, let’s dig into the three trim levels available to see what they deliver and what sets them apart. The Preferred is the starting option for the Encore GX and comes with all of the standard features, including the 1.2L engine, as I mentioned earlier. Inside the Preferred, you’ll find an eight-inch Buick Infotainment System with support for Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a standard six-speaker sound system and cloth seating with leatherette trim. The Preferred also has a six-way manually-adjustable driver’s seat, a four-way front-passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 4.2-inch Driver Information Center, and Keyless Open and Start.

Standard cruise control is included with the Preferred model, along with numerous USB ports, basic interior lighting, and single-zone climate control. Safety features for the Preferred include a Forward Collision Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist with a Lane Departure Warning, and Front Pedestrian Braking. The Following Distance Indicator and GM’s Teen Driver system round out the impressive selection of safety technologies that come on the standard Encore GX Preferred.

A Number of Upgrades – The Encore GX Select

Moving up to the Select trim, we find a number of upgrades that make for a much nicer driving experience overall, even if they’re not absolutely essential. For starters, we find a ten-way power driver’s seat in the Select trim, which includes two-way power lumbar, plus heated front seats for added comfort on cold days. The Select includes Remote Start functionality to go with the standard Keyless Open and Start, plus automatic dual-zone climate control. With this trim, you get access to more options, too, like an available Lane Change Alert with a Side Blind Zone Alert, which lets it become even more impressive.

A close up of a kayak on the roof of a blue 2023 Buick Encore GX is shown.

Cream of the Crop – The Encore GX Essence

Finally, we have the Essence, which is the pinnacle trim for the Encore GX. Sadly, Buick’s gorgeous Avenir trim isn’t available on this model, but maybe someday. In addition to what’s provided with the Select trim, the Essence includes an eight-way power front-passenger seat, leather-appointed seating, and memory settings for the driver’s seat. You’ll find a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel in the Essence, plus an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Available features like Navigation for the Infotainment system, a Bose premium audio system, and Adaptive Cruise Control let you take the Encore GX Essence even further.

Which One Is Right for You?

It’s easy to see why the Encore GX has been so popular that Buick decided the other Encore model wasn’t necessary anymore, and all three trims have a lot to offer. Although the Encore GX Preferred is a great start, the upgrades of the Select at a price that’s only slightly higher means it’s really the best overall value that gets you the most for your money. If your budget allows for it, then the Essence delivers a more luxurious driving experience, particularly if you can pick up a few additional options, but all three models are ultimately great choices with a lot to offer. Just consider which engine will give you the kind of drive you want, and keep that in mind as you’re looking at different options since your choice of trim has such a dramatic impact on the engine you get. Ultimately, the right model is the one that brings everything you need together while fitting your budget. Now you just have to decide on which one that is.