The Buick Encore GX, which debuted last year, is back for 2021 and has some new features, like smartphone integration. With the 2020 model, many critics weren’t inspired by it. Will the new year bring about change for this SUV?
MotorTrend gave it a once-over and came out of the review recommending not the Encore GX itself, but other competitors instead. What happened?
What’s the difference between the Buick Encore and the Buick Encore GX?
The Buick Encore is its subcompact SUV offering. It’s considered the entry-level luxury SUV in the lineup. It doesn’t offer too much, but it gives you a smooth ride, a nice amount of luxury amenities, and good fuel economy. So, for around $23,000, you can get a pretty decent small SUV for an affordable price.
The Buick Encore GX is the larger version of the two, but not quite as big as the Buick Envision. While it’s easy to think it’s just another trim level of the Encore, it’s important to note that it’s not. It’s built off a different structure and goes in a whole new direction with its powertrain.
Buick’s GX version has the new General Motors platform structure along with a three-cylinder turbo engine. The Encore runs off a turbo four-cylinder motor that generates 155 hp. With the GX engine, you get 137 hp. But, you can get a 155 hp Inline-three if you upgrade, which would cost approximately $395 if you purchase the Select or Essence trims.
The pros and cons of the GX model
MotorTrend liked a few things about the vehicle. They were impressed with the unique front seat feature that made it fold down flat, in case you need extra storage room to haul a longer item. Also, the infotainment system pleased them since it was easy to use. Beyond those items, though, they weren’t too keen on the Buick Encore GX.
The first area that displeased them was the motor. Buick offers a standard 1.3-liter turbo Inline three engine, which they felt was unrefined and underpowered. When it comes to fuel economy wasn’t exactly head-turning either. With front-wheel drive and the 1.2-liter motor, you can get 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. While it isn’t terribly bad, there are rivals offering better.
Its ride quality suffered a bit as well. The editors at MotorTrend thought the GX drove more like a sports car instead of a luxury SUV. The suspension didn’t seem to do its job because you felt just about every bump and dip in the road surface.
Also, another major point they brought up was the features to value the Encore GX offers. You can expect to pay around $27,000 to $30,000 MSRP. When you factor long-term costs with depreciation, insurance, maintenance, financing, and fuel costs, you could expect to pay a possible $35,000 for five-year ownership, which is poor.
Is the Buick Encore GX a good SUV?
MotorTrend was hard-pressed to find things they liked about the Buick Encore GX. When it comes down to it, the value of what you get versus what you pay just didn’t make sense to them. In the end, the reviewers felt you would simply be better off with some of its rivals instead.
One SUV they recommended over it is the Chevy Trailblazer. This SUV closely matches the GX version with the same engine options, which was just as underpowered as the new Encore GX model. The main difference is the value. Chevy’s Trailblazer costs around $19,000 to start, so what you pay matches what you get.
Another vehicle they thought would be a better buy was the Kia Seltos, which critics deem a “mini Telluride”. When it comes to interior space the Kia offers a bit more legroom and headroom to accommodate full-size adults.
Also, if you want AWD on the 175-hp Seltos, you’re barely going over the $30,000 mark. With the Encore GX, you would pay significantly more if you added the features to its model to match what Kia offers.
The Buick Encore GX sounds like it could be a worthy buy, but if you take into consideration long-term costs and what you get for your money, you’re better off passing on it and going for a Trailblazer or Seltos instead.