Derek Shiekhi | Nov 17, 2020


Exterior view of the 2020 Buick Encore GX

When you take a look at Buick's 2019 lineup of SUVs and crossovers, what do you see? Encore, Regal TourX, Envision, Enclave and Enclave Avenir, right? Right. We see those, too. But when Buick examined that assortment of vehicles, it saw something that's not immediately obvious to the naked eye: white space between the smaller Encore and the larger Envision and Enclave models. It developed the new 2020 Encore GX to fill it.

Those two little letters on the end make a big difference. The Encore GX is larger than the regular Encore in almost every dimension and available with two engine and transmission options that provide similar or better fuel economy than the Encore's sole power plant/gearbox combo. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available. All three trim levels, Preferred, Select and Essence, come standard with six advanced safety features and offer several more as optional equipment. Prices for the Encore GX start at $24,100, which is a slight increase from the Encore's base price of $23,200. By the time Buick was done configuring my front-wheel-drive Encore GX Essence test vehicle, it had raised its final price to $33,465.

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2020 Buick Encore GX Exterior

See the exterior of the 2020 Buick Encore GX

At first glance, it's easy to see the GX's resemblance to the Encore. Their overall shapes are definitely similar, but you can quickly tell the two vehicles apart. The GX's chrome grille bars extend out from its tri-shield badge and flow into the cases for the LED daytime running lights and LED headlamps. Chrome accents highlight the front and rear fascias.

Essence models are available with three styles of 18-inch wheels; my press loaner rolled in on a handsome set of two-tone wheels wrapped in all-season rubber. The simple black plastic that arched over those and lined the GX's lower body looked just as ready for a variety of conditions. A strip of brightwork ran from the base of the windshield, over the top of the passenger compartment and ended in a fine point below the roof-mounted spoiler. The Liftgate Package's hands-free power rear hatch made grocery runs with my fiancé, especially those that ended with me loading 48-count containers of bottled water into the GX's 23.5-cubic-foot cargo area, more convenient.

The Encore GX's tidy dimensions came in handy around town, particularly when I was parking. I never had to wonder where its extremities were or back out of a space and choose a different line to fit perfectly into a spot. 

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2020 Buick Encore GX Interior

See the interior of the 2020 Buick Encore GX

The more time I spent inside the Encore GX, the more things I found to like. Not only did Buick dress the cabin in an attractive two-tone color scheme of Signet and Ebony, but it gave the leather seats' perforated inserts a cool parquet-like pattern. When I looked closely at the glossy trim that spanned the top of the dashboard, I saw a similarly intricate design.

The Encore GX's tech was even more impressive. The Convenience Package added wireless phone charging, as well as a few useful safety features. It was the same with the Advanced Technology Package, which included the Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible Buick Infotainment System with an eight-inch touchscreen and navigation, and several additional tech features that gave me peace of mind whether I was parking or driving on the highway (I'll cover those in the Safety section below).

Taking interior photographs gave me the perfect opportunity to test out the 40/60-split rear seat. There was plenty of headroom for someone my size (5'10"), but when I sat behind the driver's seat adjusted to my height, my knees scraped the back of it. If I splayed my knees out slightly, that wasn't an issue.

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2020 Buick Encore GX Performance

See the engine block of the 2020 Buick Encore GX

Buick offers the Encore GX with two turbocharged three-cylinder engines: a 1.2-liter unit with 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque or 1.3-liter power plant with 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft. Front-wheel-drive models come exclusively with a CVT (continuously variable transmission). Encore GX's with all-wheel drive get a nine-speed conventional automatic gearbox. My test vehicle was equipped with the larger, more powerful engine option and CVT. Acceleration was adequate for such a small engine. The CVT behaved more like a regular automatic than I expected. Normally, CVTs make their presence known through the stretched-rubber-band way in which they process the engine's power, but the Encore GX's transmission was an exception to that rule.

An Encore GX set up like the one I evaluated should be able to return 30 city, 32 highway and 31 mpg combined, according to the EPA. I wasn't able to match any of those figures. The onboard computer told me I only averaged 25.6 mpg over the course of 199.2 miles.

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2020 Buick Encore GX Safety

See the safety features of the 2020 Buick Encore GX

The more small vehicles I drive, the more impressed I am with the tech some of them offer. The Encore GX was a perfect example of just how many advanced features you can get in a compact package. As I mentioned earlier, all Encore GXs come standard with six safety features: Intellibeam automatic headlights and high beams, Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning and a Following Distance Indicator.

My test vehicle's two major options packages had some useful convenience and infotainment features in them, but their most significant contributions were safety related. The head-up display allowed me to keep an eye on my speed and the road ahead at the same time. If I didn't want to mess with the wiper speed, I could just let the rain-sensing wipers pick the right one.

Changing lanes on the highway was less stressful because the rear mirror camera gave me a completely unobstructed view of what was behind me. By pressing a few buttons on the steering wheel, I could set the Adaptive Cruise Control's system's following distance and speed. Once I got to where I was going, the HD Surround Vision Camera's multiple camera angles enabled me to parallel or perpendicular park with total confidence. Or I could just let the Automatic Parking Assist feature do the steering and braking for me.

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2020 Buick Encore GX Overall

View the exterior of the 2020 Buick Encore GX

If you want to test-drive a 2020 Encore GX, you don't have to look too hard. It's no longer hidden in the white space between other SUVs with the tri-shield emblem on them. It's in AutoNation Buick dealerships right now.

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2020 Buick Encore GX Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, FWD

Engine/Transmission

1.3L I4, 155 hp, 174 lb-ft
Eight-speed automatic

Mileage

30/32 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.