2020 Buick Encore GX evaluation: Your roots are exhibiting

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The GX is unquestionably extra engaging than the smaller Encore.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Crossovers accounted for 90% of Buick’s US gross sales final yr, and with statistics like that, it is smart that Buick will quickly stop selling sedans altogether. However earlier than that occurs, Buick must bolster its SUV lineup. That is the place the Encore GX is available in.

Like

  • Nice infotainment tech is commonplace
  • Ample passenger area
  • Highly effective engine and properly tuned suspension

Do not Like

  • Inside supplies aren’t nice
  • Tough engine vibration at idle
  • Costlier than bigger, extra environment friendly rivals

It’d sound like only a trim degree of the subcompact Encore crossover, however the GX is in reality a completely new automobile, using on a platform shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer — for higher or worse. It squeezes in between the ever-so-slightly smaller Encore and the ever-so-slightly bigger Envision, the latter of which will probably be replaced by a sharply styled successor in early 2021.

The GX is definitely extra good-looking than the little potato that’s the Encore, with commonplace 18-inch wheels and LED headlights. The model you see right here wears Sport Touring duds — a $1,100 package deal that provides body-colored facet moldings, distinctive bumpers and an entire bunch of crimson accents within the grille. I may completely do with out the crimson stuff, however the remainder of the Sport Touring getup is definitely quite good. Nonetheless, you are possible higher off skipping this package deal and saving some cash; I believe the Encore GX is simply as engaging with its commonplace grey exterior trim.

Stepping inside reveals a good-looking, properly organized cabin, though the nearer you look, the extra flaws you discover. Remember the $25,095 Encore GX (together with $995 for vacation spot) is predicated on the $19,995 Trailblazer, and it does not take lengthy to search out proof of these price range roots. If one thing appears to be like like low cost plastic, it’s low cost plastic. And even the extra upscale-looking supplies on the dashboard really feel weirdly rubbery. Particular objects just like the flip sign and windshield wiper stalks are the identical low-rent components Normal Motors has been utilizing for years, and the remainder of the controls are all simply type of meh. Buick maintains it is a premium model, and its bigger automobiles are literally fairly good inside — even the smaller Encore could be decidedly extra plush — however the GX’s inside isn’t any higher (or in some circumstances, worse) than what you will discover in non-luxury rivals just like the Hyundai Kona or Kia Seltos

Fortunately, the GX redeems itself when it comes to general passenger quantity. Because it’s greater than the usual Encore, there’s loads of room for adults in each back and front, and the upright form means headroom is hardly a difficulty. The leather-based seats of my Sport Touring tester are snug, although they’re quite slim and lack any actual facet bolstering. With the driving force’s seat set for my supreme driving place, I’ve plenty of area to take a seat behind myself (though at 5 toes, Eight inches, I am not precisely what you’d name tall).

The inside is properly laid out, however the supplies are simply so-so.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Sadly, cargo quantity suffers, with the Encore GX providing simply 23.5 cubic toes of area with the rear seats upright, or 50.2 with them folded flat. These numbers simply barely finest the smaller Encore however lag behind different subcompact CUVs, together with the aforementioned Seltos and even the tiny Nissan Kicks. A hands-free energy liftgate is elective, and it may be set to open to completely different heights.

One of the best factor in regards to the Encore GX’s inside is the multimedia tech. Each GX comes commonplace with Buick’s incredibly easy-to-use infotainment system, housed on an 8-inch touchscreen. That is basically a rebranded model of the Chevrolet Infotainment Three suite present in Buick’s company cousin, and that is a very good factor. The entire icons are straightforward to learn, the system responds immediately to inputs and the menus are a cinch to navigate. When you desire to rely by yourself tech, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are commonplace, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Amazon Alexa integration is obtainable. Embedded navigation is elective on all Encore GX fashions, however you could possibly additionally simply skip it and let Google Maps or Waze do the heavy lifting.

Commonplace driver-assistance programs embrace forward-collision warning with pedestrian braking, computerized emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping help and lane-departure warning. It is a formidable roster of tech for this worth. Curiously, although, adaptive cruise management stays elective, even on the most costly Essence mannequin, the place it is bundled into the $1,790 Superior Expertise Bundle that additionally features a surround-view digicam, head-up show and navigation. The HD digicam is the one a part of that package deal price paying for; the head-up show is a kind of dashboard-mounted ones the place a small display flips up, and you’ll hear how low cost this factor is by the groan of its motor and the clicking because it snaps into place. It is a disgrace Buick does not enable a fascinating choice like adaptive cruise management to be bought by itself. (Or, you already know, simply make it commonplace, like so many different non-premium rivals are doing as of late.)

The Encore GX is obtainable with both a 1.2-liter or 1.3-liter I3 engine, each of that are turbocharged. Entrance-wheel drive is commonplace, and if you’d like all-wheel drive, you are pressured into getting the bigger inline-three. I am unable to communicate to the smaller 1.2-liter I3 and its 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, as my South Korea-built Sport Touring tester has the bigger 1.3, which brings 155 hp and 174 lb-ft to the social gathering. No matter engine, front-wheel-drive fashions use a repeatedly variable transmission, however the 1.3/AWD pairing will get a nine-speed computerized.

The nine-speed transmission operates easily and seamlessly, and with the engine’s full torque punch approaching robust at simply 1,600 rpm, there’s loads of low-end energy for scooting round city. However this engine is not good. Little triples like this are sometimes tough by nature, and Buick’s 1.3-liter isn’t any exception. It type of chugs like a diesel underneath laborious acceleration, and the engine vibration at idle is powerful sufficient which you could really feel it via the seat and the steering wheel.

The GX’s best powertrain mixture is the 1.3-liter engine with front-wheel drive, which the EPA says ought to return 30 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 32 mpg on the freeway. Including all-wheel drive reduces these numbers to 26 mpg metropolis and 29 mpg freeway, and in the event you go for the smaller 1.2T, you are 26 mpg metropolis and 30 mpg freeway. Throughout the board, these aren’t precisely stellar figures, particularly when a bigger, extra highly effective Honda CR-V will return 28 mpg metropolis and 34 mpg freeway. Nonetheless, they’re comparatively straightforward to attain; I had no downside seeing about 30 mpg freeway in my AWD tester (although I solely ever drove it in FWD mode).

Crimson means sporty, proper?


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Like many different small SUVs, the Encore GX’s all-wheel-drive system is not an always-on affair. Actually, the GX defaults to front-drive except you press the “AWD” button on the middle console, simply forward of the shifter, at which level torque is distributed to the rear axle. I actually like that the Encore remembers your setting if you shut the engine off — in the event you had AWD chosen, it’s going to be turned on if you begin the automobile once more. The dealing with traits do not actually change between FWD and AWD, both, a minimum of on dry pavement.

On the highway, the GX is generally fantastic. The steering is extremely gentle and equally devoid of suggestions, however the chassis is properly sorted. The Encore has no hassle absorbing the bumps on Los Angeles’ crummy roads and smooths out the usually jarring growth joints on the 405 freeway. Physique roll is about common, and the brakes are robust however straightforward to modulate. The GX will largely spend its life operating errands and commuting in visitors, and for that, it is completely suited.

But the extra time I spend behind the wheel of the Encore GX, the extra I battle to search out its attraction. My Essence 1.3T AWD Sport Touring tester retails for $36,320 together with vacation spot, and including the remainder of the obtainable choices brings it up over $38,000. Certain, that is a number of thousand {dollars} inexpensive than a equally outfitted Audi Q3, however the Audi’s an actual luxurious automobile with a considerably higher inside, nicer on-road manners and a bigger suite of tech. For my cash, I’d simply choose up a totally loaded Honda CR-V Touring which, once more, is bigger, extra highly effective, extra fuel-efficient, nicer inside and affords extra driver-assistance tech, all for a cheaper price ($35,870). Or I’d simply get a Chevy Trailblazer, as a result of it is basically the identical automotive for much less cash.

The GX is ok in a vacuum, however non-luxury rivals — and the cheaper non-GX Encore — are higher buys.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The GX could be positioned between Buick’s Encore and Envision, nevertheless it does not seem to be it was initially designed to fill that position. The inexpensive Encore has a extra refined powertrain and nicer inside supplies. The GX, in the meantime, simply feels just like the higher-cost Trailblazer it’s.

There’s nothing inherently unsuitable with the GX, however apart from being a bit of greater and barely higher trying than the usual Encore, it does not actually appear to enhance upon that package deal. Nonetheless, Buick wants as many new utility automobiles as attainable as a way to preserve momentum. And till fresher offerings arrive, the Encore GX is a minimum of an alternative choice.

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