Buick recently announced that they were discontinuing the Regal after the 2020 model year, as the brand strengthens its focus on premium (and profitable) SUVs. This is a space that they’ve excelled in, with the small Encore, mid-size Envision, and larger Enclave accounting for almost 90% of U.S. Buick sales. So the decision to go all-in on SUVs was a no-brainer.
The only problem? They need a vehicle to bridge the gap between the Encore and Envision, as there’s quite a size disparity between the two. That’s where the 2020 Buick Encore GX comes in. This sharp looking SUV is a great option for customers who need something slightly bigger than the Encore, but aren’t quite ready for an Envision. Perfect for a couple with a baby.
“Filling the spot between the smaller Encore and the larger Envision and Enclave models, the Encore GX is another proof point that Buick is The Premium SUV Brand. Just as we did with the Enclave in 2008 and the Encore in 2013, we identified a growing market niche and moved quickly to introduce a new vehicle to fill it,” said Duncan Aldred, VP, Global Buick and GMC.
Aesthetically, the Buick Encore GX is a very attractive vehicle, with a confident stance, a wide, modern grille and 18-inch aluminum wheels. It looks more expensive than it is. Spring for the optional Sport Touring package ($1,100), and you get exclusive wheels, body-color surrounds and a unique black mesh grille with red accents connected through the front & rear bumpers.
But as you can see in these photos, our model wasn’t an ST, but rather an Essence trim which has textured black body cladding, giving a bit of a two-tone look, much like the Mazda CX-30 we recently drove, though not quite as obnoxious as that one. I personally like the contrast with the black bits breaking up the red, but it really comes down to personal preference.
Measuring 171.4 inches long by 71.4 inches wide by 64.1 inches tall, the Encore GX is longer, lower, and wider than the Encore, giving passengers added room front and rear (for reference, I’m 6’2″ and I fit just fine), more cargo space (25.3 cubic feet behind the second row), and just an all-around more comfortable ride.
Inside, the 2020 Buick Encore GX’s cabin features premium materials and available features, like leather upholstery, heated seats & steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, surround-view camera, panoramic moonroof, head-up display, and an ionizing air filter. The Encore GX also features Buick’s signature QuietTuning, which helps minimize road noise inside the vehicle.
For the technology-obsessed, the Encore GX offers the latest in infotainment and connectivity, such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, Bluetooth pairing for two phones at once, SiriusXM with 360L, Rear Camera Mirror, Alexa integration, a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, and more.
Buick also includes a number of standard safety and driver assistance features, including Front Pedestrian Braking, Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and automatic high/low beams. Other safety and driver assist features are available as well.
The 2020 Buick Encore GX is available with either a standard 1.2L turbo (137hp / 162 lb-ft of torque) or premium 1.3L turbo (155hp / 174 lb-ft of torque) engine. The 1.2L is paired with a CVT and is only available in front-wheel drive. The 1.3L is paired with either a CVT (FWD) or 9-speed auto (AWD), and this engine choice seems like a no-brainer, delivering better power AND better fuel economy, all for just an additional $395.
Our Encore GX Essence FWD was equipped with the 1.3L engine, and it was surprisingly peppy, with plenty of low-end power for zipping around town, and the CVT didn’t really bother me. That said, this is a three-cylinder engine, and it’s not exactly the smoothest thing in the world. For a car that’s trying to position itself as a luxury vehicle, the engine isn’t doing it any favors.
You are definitely not going to win any drag races with the Encore GX, but it’s capable enough, and the fuel economy (30 city / 32 highway / 31 combined) isn’t bad at all for the segment. On the road, the Encore GX was rather enjoyable to drive, with a comfortable ride, nice handling, and light steering. It’s the perfect city car, no fuss no muss.
Overall, I think Buick was smart to add another SUV to their lineup, as the Encore wasn’t doing them any favors, and the small SUV category is red hot right now. The 2020 Buick Encore GX is a pretty solid vehicle all around, and I think that should do well.
It’s not exactly cheap, with a starting price of $25,095 and an as-tested price of $33,465. But if Buick is truly competing in the luxury space, then it still comes in thousands below the likes of the Audi Q3, Mecedes-Benz GLA, and others in that space. The question is, will people looking at those vehicles cross-shop a Buick? Only time will tell.
Visit www.buick.com/encore-gx to learn more about the 2020 Buick Encore GX.