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  • 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show – First Look: 2020 Buick Encore GX

2019 Los Angeles Auto Show – First Look: 2020 Buick Encore GX

Tweener SUV Slots in Above Encore and Below Envision with Two Three-Cylinder Engines

Nov 19, 2019
Buick is filling in all of the SUV white space it can for 2020, starting with this, the Encore GX. Slotting in above the subcompact Encore but below the compact/midsize Envision (and well beneath the behemoth Enclave), the Encore GX will also feature downsized engine offerings, with a tiny 1.2L turbocharged I-3 coming standard. The optional engine isn't much larger, at just 1.3 liters of boosted three-cylinder fury.
Placid Performance
Modern turbocharged engines get better and better every year, so we're honestly not too worried about these suitcase-sized mills being lethargic.
According to GM Authority, the standard 1.2L turbo three will produce a respectable 137 hp at 5,000 rpm and 166 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm, giving it almost as much power and a fair bit more torque than the smaller Encore's standard engine. The 1.2L turbo is paired exclusively with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission—the latter gives us some pause, given GM's poor history with CVTs in the Spark minicar. Hopefully they'll have learned and applied lessons to the Encore GX.
Photo 2/13   |   2020 Buick Encore Gx Sport Touring Exterior Side Profile
Opting for the slightly larger 1.3L turbocharged I-3 brings a commensurate bump in power and torque, to 155 hp at 5,600 rpm and 174 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm. With more torque delivered at a lower rpm, we think the 1.3L turbo is going to be the engine to purchase. It too is paired with a CVT and front-wheel drive, although opting for all-wheel drive on the 1.3 replaces the cones and pulleys with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
While those power and torque numbers aren't likely to set your hair on fire (nor draw envious gazes from your neighbors who just bought an Audi Q3), the smallish Buick will still probably be a fine commuter and freeway machine. Thanks to that low-rpm torque peak, passing and merging should feel more pleasant than the numbers suggest. Another boon to the diminutive engine choices is fuel economy: Buick estimates the smaller of the two motors to hit up to 31 mpg combined, better than the aforementioned Q3 (21 mpg), BMW X1 (26 mpg), and Volkswagen Tiguan (24 mpg), and matching the Lexus UX 200.
Photo 3/13   |   2020 Buick Encore Gx Sport Touring Exterior Rear Quarter 01
Safety Story
Buick is banking hard on the safety quotient of Encore GX, kitting it with standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision monitoring, lane-keep assist, a following-distance indicator, and automatic high-beam headlights. The Encore GX is the first Buick to come standard with those features. Also available are parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, and a surround-view camera system.
American Style
The 2020 Buick Encore GX should blend well with its stablemates, boasting the same winged chrome grille as the Encore, Envision, and Enclave. In a departure from Buick tradition, the grille's texture features horizontal bars, rather than vertical, and the Envision's hood portholes are nowhere to be found on the Encore GX. What's more, the small SUV will be available in a distinctive Sport Touring (ST) package that adds racy, red accents to the radiator grille, as well as specific wheel designs and body-color accents. The Encore GX ST (say that five times) helps modernize the machine's styling while fitting in with the smaller Encore Sport Touring as well.
Photo 4/13   |   2020 Buick Encore Gx Interior Dashboard
The Encore GX is 7.2 inches longer, 1.5 inches wider, and 0.2-inch lower than the current Encore, and it offers 3.4 extra inches of wheelbase. Those numbers add up to 94.3 cubic feet of passenger room and 25.3 cubic feet of cargo, respective increases of 1.5 and 6.5 cubes over the Encore. That might be just enough for a family of four to be comfortable, but we expect most of these SUVs to end up in the homes of DINKs, empty-nesters, and single folks anyway.
Whether bought by young families or retirees, the little Buick should still impress with its interior design. A wide, wing-shaped dashboard fascia features a high-mounted infotainment screen, replete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and two-device Bluetooth pairing. The interior's styling is modern and functional, with a dedicated volume knob and seek buttons, as well as intuitive HVAC controls. Unlike the GMC Terrain, the Buick Encore GX keeps a conventional PRND shift selector, easing ergonomics.
Photo 5/13   |   2020 Buick Encore Gx Interior Front Cabin
Bring on the Buicks!
The company behind the stately Tri-Shield insignia hasn't officially revealed pricing, but the 2020 Buick Encore GX will be available early next year, so we shouldn't have to wait too long to find out more. Other outlets, however, are reporting starting prices at $25,095 for the base Preferred, $26,695 for the midlevel Select, and $29,495 for the top Essence trim. You'll note that, curiously, the smaller Encore costs more in Preferred and Essence trim than the Encore GX, so we're taking those reported starting prices with a grain of salt.
Such a pricing structure would also allow the Encore GX to undercut the Lexus UX (its most natural competitor) by $5,000 or so. That said, don't expect the Buick to come standard with leather or leatherette—cloth should be the order of the day for the base Encore GX.
Photo 6/13   |   2020 Buick Encore Gx Sport Touring Exterior Front View
Whatever it costs, Buick is probably gambling big on the little crossover's even littler engines. Traditional Buick buyers might be put off by an engine that's literally a third the size of the one found in the Lacrosse they're trading in, while new customers might not even give the little SUV a chance to change their minds. Nevertheless, automakers often seem to sell as many crossovers as they can build, and if the 2020 Buick Encore GX is as palatable and competent as it looks, it'll be a hit.
Photo 7/13   |   2020 Buick Encore Gx Sport Touring Exterior Rear Hatch