Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Buick Encore and Encore GX Don’t Share Much Besides a Name

In 2019 at the Shanghai Auto Show, General Motors launched its new 2020 Buick Encore and Buick Encore GX. The new Buick Encore debuted at the show is only sold in China. The new Buick Encore GX is sold in both China and North America. The first-generation Encore, the one sold here in the U.S., will remain for now and it was joined by the Buick Encore GX for 2020.

While the first-generation Buick Encore and the new Encore GX share a name, the two share little else.

The 2020 Buick Encore

The Buick Encore available in the U.S. for 2020 is part of the first-generation. The subcompact SUV is based on the Chevrolet Sonic sedan and has an air of opulence about it. 

The only thing keeping the cabin of the Encore from being truly luxurious is the hard plastic used and a couple of other minor styling cues. Otherwise, the interior is impressive with an agreeable front-seat configuration, easy-to-use and access dash controls, and jewel-colored accents. The driver’s seat is high and positioned well even though the seat bottom is a little narrow. The interior space, in general, is a little cramped.

Powering the Encore is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s a little underwhelming with 138 hp. It’s the only engine option, and it’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain achieves only subpar acceleration and fair gas mileage. Nothing to write home about. The Encore gets 16 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 23 mpg overall.

Great value? The 2020 Encore is a little pricey for what you get. On the plus side, it’s easy to navigate because of its size and it has solid handling.

The 2020 Buick Encore GX

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Called a companion to the existing Buick Encore by Consumer Reports, the 2020 Buick Encore GX is also a smaller SUV. It’s easy to park and features a somewhat luxurious presentation too. While it’s an improvement over the Encore we know with its sleek profile and greater refinement, the team at CR finds it less sophisticated than the competition from other automakers.

With the available all-wheel drive, the 2020 Encore GX offers a 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s a powertrain that’s surprisingly spirited. This engine gets 155 hp, and the transmission is a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The end result is a comfortable ride and capable, responsive handling.

The Encore GX has a lot going for it. The infotainment system and controls are easy to use and the cabin has an appealing openness. The GX features automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward-collision alerts standard, and more.

The Encore GX also has its flaws. The CR team felt the seats weren’t that supportive and that the driver’s space was a little cramped. There’s not an abundance of rear passenger space, and visibility is hindered by thick pillars. The engine makes grinding sounds, and there’s vibration throughout the vehicle at lower speeds.

Which does it better?

With the Buick Encore we know showing its age, it was already at a disadvantage. While the standard Encore costs less for the base trim, you don’t get a lot of standard safety features. 

The new Encore GX is an all-around better value. It’s more powerful than the standard Buick Encore, it’s better equipped, and it’s a more practical choice. The Encore GX does it better on almost every front when compared to the first-generation Encore currently available for sale in the U.S. 

What do we know of the 2021 Buick Encore? It’s still part of the first generation and little has changed aside from an improved suite of driver-assist features. Will we see an all-new Buick Encore for 2022? That remains to be seen.