As the smallest model in Buick’s all-SUV lineup, the 2024 Encore GX carries a heavy weight on its compact shoulders. It’s tasked with luring younger buyers to the brand but its premium-but-not-quite-luxury look-and-feel is a hard sell once it’s parked next to the Audis, BMWs, and Volvos it competes with. While it’s cheaper than SUVs from those brands, its allure is also far lower. Those who take a chance on the Encore GX will find a similar level of equipment but also mainstream interior material quality and weak-performing, turbocharged three-cylinder powertrains. Handling is downright boring, but Buick’s brand ethos doesn’t include back-road thrills. Like other Buick SUVs, the Encore GX’s ride is comfortable and its hushed cabin is well isolated from road noise—which we think is this SUV’s most luxurious feature.
What’s New for 2024?
The Encore GX receives a styling makeover for 2024 complete with sleeker exterior lighting elements, reshaped front and rear bumpers, and an updated grille. From spy photos, we can also see a new wheel design and the introduction of Buick’s updated Tri-Shield logo on the nose and tail. Despite the changes to the SUV’s exterior design, we expect the Encore GX’s mechanical bits and interior to be unchanged.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The best value in the lineup appears to be the midrange Select model. It comes with handsome 18-inch wheels, roof-rack side rails, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a rear-seat center armrest, remote start, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Experience Buick package adds navigation and a power sunroof. All-wheel drive is optional on any Encore GX.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Encore GX is powered by two turbocharged three-cylinder engines. The base version is a 1.2-liter that develops 137 horsepower. The optional 1.3-liter unit makes 155 ponies. The former pairs with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. While the more powerful engine is available on fancier front-drive models, it’s included on every Encore GX with all-wheel drive. Likewise, the slightly bigger engine exclusively uses a nine-speed automatic transmission. An Encore GX with all-wheel drive, the nine-speed automatic, and the larger 1.3-liter four-cylinder required a slothful 9.3 seconds to reach 60 mph. The Encore GX’s luxury-brand rivals offer more powerful engines and far quicker acceleration times. On the road, the Encore GX feels peppier than its acceleration results suggest, particularly around town where the small turbo engine makes the most of its reasonable low-end grunt. The Buick’s ride is also agreeably smooth and controlled, but it doesn’t offer any handling thrills.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Ironically, the larger of the two three-cylinder engines receives the highest fuel-economy ratings from the EPA. With front-wheel drive and the CVT, the turbocharged 1.3-liter achieves up to 32 mpg highway. Going with the smaller 1.2-liter mill drops that figure to 30 mpg. Opting for the 1.3-liter with all-wheel drive and the nine-speed automatic nets a highway rating of 29 mpg. However, on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route, the Encore GX with the larger engine, all-wheel drive, and nine-speed automatic managed 30 mpg, beating the EPA’s estimate by 1 mpg. For more information about the Encore GX’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Buick’s positioning in the market straddles the line between luxury and mainstream, so it’s better equipped than base-level versions of rivals such as the Nissan Kicks and Subaru Crosstrek, but it doesn’t provide the same level of fit and finish as an Audi, a BMW, or a Volvo. The Encore GX’s front-passenger seat folds flat to aid in loading longer items. We fit five carry-on suitcases behind the GX’s rear seats and 16 with the rear seats folded, which is only a few less than the slightly larger Cadillac XT4.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Encore GX’s infotainment system supports a nicely integrated touchscreen that comes standard with features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. The little Buick employs General Motors’s latest infotainment software interface, which is both snappy in its responses and intuitive to use. A head-up display is an available option, as is a high-definition 360-degree camera system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Encore GX offers numerous standard driver-assistance technologies; a rearview camera mirror and 360-degree camera system will be optional. For more information about the Encore GX’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Encore GX offers more warranty coverage than mainstream rivals such as the Nissan Kicks and the Mazda CX-30, as well as luxury-branded offerings such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA-class and the Audi Q3. However, the Buick falls short against the X1 and XC40, both of which offer free maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit
2020 Buick Encore GX AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$35,720 (base price: $27,095)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC inline-3, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
82 in3, 1338 cm3
155 hp @ 5600 rpm
174 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
Suspension (F/R): struts/torsion beam
Brakes (F/R): 11.8-in vented disc/10.4-in disc
Tires: Hankook Kinergy GT, 225/55R-18 98H M+S TPC SPEC 3139 MS
Wheelbase: 102.2 in
Length: 171.4 in
Width: 71.4 in
Height: 64.1 in
Passenger volume: 92 ft3
Cargo volume: 24 ft3
Curb weight: 3335 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 9.3 sec
100 mph: 31.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 10.1 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 7.0 sec
1/4 mile: 17.0 sec @ 80 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 174 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.84 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 22 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 30 mpg
Highway range: 390 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 28/26/29 mpg
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