2020 Buick Encore GX review: Your roots are showing

    The GX is unquestionably extra enticing 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 cease promoting sedans altogether. But earlier than that occurs, Buick must bolster its SUV lineup. That’s the place the Encore GX is available in.

    LikeNice infotainment tech is standardAmple passenger spacePowerful engine and properly tuned suspension

    Don’t LikeInterior supplies aren’t greatRough engine vibration at idleMore costly than bigger, extra environment friendly rivals

    It would possibly sound like only a trim degree of the subcompact Encore crossover, however the GX is actually 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 changed by a sharply styled successor in early 2021.The GX is actually 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 a complete bunch of pink accents within the grille. I may completely do with out the pink stuff, however the remainder of the Sport Touring getup is definitely quite good. Still, you are probably higher off skipping this package deal and saving some cash; I believe the Encore GX is simply as enticing 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. Don’t overlook the $25,095 Encore GX (together with $995 for vacation spot) is predicated on the $19,995 Trailblazer, and it would not take lengthy to seek out proof of these finances roots. If one thing appears like low-cost plastic, it’s low-cost plastic. And even the extra upscale-looking supplies on the dashboard really feel weirdly rubbery. Specific gadgets just like the flip sign and windshield wiper stalks are the identical low-rent components General Motors has been utilizing for years, and the remainder of the controls are all simply form of meh. Buick maintains it is a premium model, and its bigger autos are literally fairly good inside — even the smaller Encore might be decidedly extra plush — however the GX’s inside isn’t any higher (or in some circumstances, worse) than what you may discover in non-luxury rivals just like the Hyundai Kona or Kia Seltos. Happily, the GX redeems itself by way of total passenger quantity. Since it is 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 comfy, although they’re quite slim and lack any actual facet bolstering. With the motive force’s seat set for my perfect driving place, I’ve a lot of house to take a seat behind myself (though at 5 ft, 8 inches, I’m not precisely what you’d name tall).

    The inside is properly laid out, however the supplies are simply so-so.
    Steven Ewing/Roadshow
    Unfortunately, cargo quantity suffers, with the Encore GX providing simply 23.5 cubic ft of house with the rear seats upright, or 50.2 with them folded flat. Those numbers simply barely greatest 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 non-compulsory, and it may be set to open to completely different heights.

    The neatest thing in regards to the Encore GX’s inside is the multimedia tech. Every GX comes commonplace with Buick’s extremely easy-to-use infotainment system, housed on an 8-inch touchscreen. This is basically a rebranded model of the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 suite present in Buick’s company cousin, and that is a superb factor. All of the icons are simple to learn, the system responds immediately to inputs and the menus are a cinch to navigate. If you like 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 offered. Embedded navigation is non-compulsory on all Encore GX fashions, however you possibly can additionally simply skip it and let Google Maps or Waze do the heavy lifting.Standard driver-assistance methods embody forward-collision warning with pedestrian braking, automated emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping help and lane-departure warning. It’s a powerful roster of tech for this worth. Curiously, although, adaptive cruise management stays non-compulsory, even on the costliest Essence mannequin, the place it is bundled into the $1,790 Advanced Technology Package that additionally features a surround-view digicam, head-up show and navigation. The HD digicam is the one a part of that package deal value paying for; the head-up show is a type of dashboard-mounted ones the place a small display screen flips up, and you’ll hear how low-cost this factor is by the groan of its motor and the press because it snaps into place. It’s a disgrace Buick would not enable a fascinating possibility like adaptive cruise management to be bought by itself. (Or, you understand, simply make it commonplace, like so many different non-premium rivals are doing today.)

    The Encore GX is offered with both a 1.2-liter or 1.3-liter I3 engine, each of that are turbocharged. Front-wheel drive is commonplace, and in order for you all-wheel drive, you are pressured into getting the bigger inline-three. I am unable to converse 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. Regardless of engine, front-wheel-drive fashions use a repeatedly variable transmission, however the 1.3/AWD pairing will get a nine-speed automated.The nine-speed transmission operates easily and seamlessly, and with the engine’s full torque punch approaching sturdy at simply 1,600 rpm, there’s loads of low-end energy for scooting round city. But 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 form of chugs like a diesel underneath laborious acceleration, and the engine vibration at idle is robust sufficient you can really feel it by way of 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. Adding 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. Across 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. Still, they’re comparatively simple to attain; I had no drawback seeing about 30 mpg freeway in my AWD tester (although I solely ever drove it in FWD mode).Red 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. In truth, the GX defaults to front-drive until you press the “AWD” button on the middle console, simply forward of the shifter, at which level torque is shipped to the rear axle. I actually like that the Encore remembers your setting while you shut the engine off — in the event you had AWD chosen, it will be turned on while you begin the automobile once more. The dealing with traits do not actually change between FWD and AWD, both, at the very least on dry pavement.On the street, the GX is usually fantastic. The steering is extremely mild and equally devoid of suggestions, however the chassis is properly sorted. The Encore has no bother absorbing the bumps on Los Angeles’ crummy roads and smooths out the customarily jarring growth joints on the 405 freeway. Body roll is about common, and the brakes are sturdy however simple to modulate. The GX will largely spend its life working errands and commuting in site visitors, and for that, it is completely suited.Yet the extra time I spend behind the wheel of the Encore GX, the extra I wrestle to seek 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 accessible choices brings it up over $38,000. Sure, that is a number of thousand {dollars} inexpensive than a equally geared up 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 decide up a completely loaded Honda CR-V Touring which, once more, is bigger, extra highly effective, extra fuel-efficient, nicer inside and gives 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 okay in a vacuum, however non-luxury rivals — and the cheaper non-GX Encore — are higher buys.
    Steven Ewing/Roadshow
    The GX is likely to be positioned between Buick’s Encore and Envision, however it would 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 fallacious with the GX, however other than being somewhat greater and barely higher trying than the usual Encore, it would not actually appear to enhance upon that package deal. Still, Buick wants as many new utility autos as potential with the intention to maintain momentum. And till more energizing choices arrive, the Encore GX is at the very least an alternative choice.

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