2020 Buick Encore GX

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2020 Buick Encore GX Test Drive Review: Great Price, Greater Technology

After realizing that the vast majority of its sales were coming from SUVs and crossovers, Buick quickly pivoted to the point where those are now the only models it sells. The company's latest offering is called the Encore GX, a subcompact crossover positioned above the smaller Encore and below the Envision. It may share a name with the smaller Encore but the GX is completely new. Why would Buick go through the trouble of making the GX its own model when the regular Encore could have just had a new trim added to it? Well, the Encore is based on the Chevy Trax, a platform developed with the no-longer-GM-owned Opel, whereas the GX is based on an all-new platform that also underpins the latest Chevy Trailblazer.

Available with a pair of three-cylinder engines, the Encore GX offers a 1.2-liter turbo with 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque and a 1.3-liter turbo with 155 hp and 174 lb-ft. The former engine comes exclusively with a CVT and front-wheel-drive, while the latter can be had with all-wheel-drive mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission or the CVT for front-drive models. These tiny engines won't do much to quench your need for speed but Buick has packed the Encore GX with outstanding, class-leading technology at a price point that won't leave your checkbook suffering. CarBuzz was sent an Encore GX in the top Essence trim with FWD and we came away pleasantly surprised with Buick's latest offering.

Read in this review:

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2020 Buick Encore GX Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 Encore GX?

The Encore GX may look similar to the regular Encore but it's an all-new model and has sportier, more luxurious styling to help attract a bigger portion of the car-buying market. Some styling cues from more expensive metal in the Buick range make their way to this model, but the really big reasons to consider the GX lie with its economical engines and capacious cargo volumes. A Sport Touring package is available on all trim levels, and although this doesn't improve performance in any way, the looks are impressively enhanced.

Pros and Cons

  • Stylish exterior
  • Impressive cargo space
  • Class-leading technology
  • Smart interior layout
  • Numerous customization options
  • Price won't break the bank
  • Not much bigger than the regular Encore
  • Satellite radio costs extra
  • Dual-zone climate control not standard
  • It's slow even with the bigger engine
  • Ride comfort is just ok
  • Too similar to its Chevy counterpart

What's the Price of the 2020 Buick Encore GX?

The Buick Encore GX is available in three trims, with the cheapest model being the Preferred. This model comes standard with a 1.2-liter engine and a CVT that powers the front wheels. It starts at $24,100 before a $995 destination charge. The Select trim starts at $25,700 and comes with the same powertrain choices, just like the top Essence trim which starts at $28,500. If you want all-wheel-drive on any of these models, it'll cost an extra $2,000, but that requires you to opt for the available larger engine by default. Fully loaded, you're looking at around $38,000 before any incentives.

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2020 Buick Encore GX Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
1.2L Turbo Gas
1.3L Turbo Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
1.2L Turbo Gas
1.3L Turbo Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
1.2L Turbo Gas
1.3L Turbo Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Buick Encore GX Trims and Specs

2020 Encore GX Exterior

2020 Buick Encore GX Forward View CarBuzz
2020 Buick Encore GX View Out Back CarBuzz
2020 Buick Encore GX Front-End View CarBuzz
See All 2020 Buick Encore GX Exterior Photos


  • Length 171.4 in
  • Wheelbase 102.2 in
  • Max Width 71.4 in
  • Front Width 61.1 in
  • Rear Width 61.9 in
  • Curb Weight 3,025.0 lbs

2020 Encore GX Performance

2020 Buick Encore GX Aft View CarBuzz
2020 Buick Encore GX Rim CarBuzz
2020 Buick Encore GX Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    1.2L Turbo Gas, 1.3L Turbo, 1.3L Turbo Gas
  • Transmissions
    9-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Encore GX's engine lineup may not be its strong suit but it makes up for this shortcoming with agility and easy drivability. The steering is light and effortless, making it easy to navigate the Encore GX around even the tightest of parking lots, though the turning circle could be a bit tighter. We certainly weren't expecting much of a sporty experience from the Encore GX but it feels spry enough to not be boring from behind the wheel. Body roll is not too disconcerting and once the suspension leans in through a corner, the Encore GX is actually rather enjoyable to pilot with higher momentum. The cabin remains quiet even at highway speeds, maintaining the ambiance fit for a luxury vehicle.

To keep the Encore GX at a price point though, Buick had to cut corners somewhere and the ride comfort has suffered slightly as a result. The front strut suspension feels adequate but the rear torsion beam creates a jouncy ride for anyone sitting in the back seat. Most roads will feel perfectly fine but the Encore GX tends to get a bit hoppy over rougher surfaces. Even with only the front wheels driven, there isn't enough power to get more than a tiny chirp from the front wheels, so you can always put down the power when you need it. Most of Buick's driver-assist features feel run-of-the-mill but the Encore GX is packed with some standout features including a self-park feature that can handle parallel and perpendicular spots. This feature is more than just a party trick, it actually works and can be engaged quickly with minimal notice.

2020 Encore GX Interior

2020 Buick Encore GX Dashboard Buick
2020 Buick Encore GX Dashboard 1 Buick
2020 Buick Encore GX Steering Wheel Details Buick
See All 2020 Buick Encore GX Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 40.9 in
  • Front Head Room 39.7 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.1 in

2020 Encore GX Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Buick Encore GX Back Seats Down CarBuzz
2020 Buick Encore GX Maximum Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Buick Encore GX Trunk Space CarBuzz

2020 Encore GX Safety and Reliability


  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2020 Warranty Note \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2020 Buick Encore GX A Good SUV?

The regular Buick Encore is one of those vehicles you'd be interested in renting for a short trip but would never consider buying. With this new Encore GX, Buick has learned how to entice more than just a rental fleet customer. Buick has struggled to attract younger customers for years now but the Encore GX looks like a stellar tool to finally bring some new blood to the brand. It features outstanding infotainment and driver assist technology packaged in an attractive body with a clean and spacious interior.

So long as speed is not at all important to you and imperfect ride quality is not a deal-breaker, we could strongly recommend the Buick Encore GX as an excellent way to get into a subcompact luxury crossover at a mainstream price. More powerful European options like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Volvo XC40 cost more in entry-level form than a well-optioned Encore GX and can be equipped to the point where you could have bought two Buicks instead. The Buick Encore GX may be far from faultless but we believe it acts as a great new entry point to the brand. We wish Buick would have given its new product its own unique name but perhaps the company wanted to capitalize on the familiarity of the Encore name. Just skip the regular Encore and get the GX.

What Buick Encore GX Model Should I Buy?

The mid-level Select trim is a good-value buy, with features like heated front seats, remote start, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a power-adjustable driver's seat. We'd spec the more powerful engine but stick with front-wheel-drive, thus giving you the best possible power and fuel economy. To this, we'd add the Advanced Technology package with its adaptive cruise control, SiriusXM, navigation, a head-up display, rear parking sensors, and a hands-free power liftgate. You also get a high-definition surround-view camera here, thus making the GX a safe and convenient runaround.

Check out other Buick Encore Styles

2020 Buick Encore GX Comparisons

Buick Encore Buick
Lexus UX Lexus
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Buick Encore GX137 hp30/31 mpg$25,600
Buick Encore 155 hp24/32 mpg$26,100
Lexus UX 169 hp29/37 mpg$33,450

2020 Buick Encore GX vs Buick Encore

Is the Encore GX worth paying extra for over its diminutive sibling? Well, the price difference is less than a thousand dollars when comparing base models, and power output is almost identical, with the GX having 14 lb-ft more. The regular Encore has a decent interior design that isn't outdated at all and looks very similar to that of the GX, but the GX shines in the cargo department, offering up to 50.2 cubic feet while the regular Encore only manages 48.4. That's not a huge difference though, but in the cabin, the slightly increased size of the GX makes for better passenger comfort. In addition, the GX is arguably better to look at and comes standard with features like forward collision alert and lane keep assist. Besides safety, many of the base features are similar, but for such a small premium, it's worth opting for the bigger GX.

See Buick Encore Review

2020 Buick Encore GX vs Lexus UX

The Lexus UX is one of the more premium offerings in this segment and that is reflected in the price, with the base 200 FWD model starting at $32,100 versus the Encore GX's $24,100. The UX comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, and while both the exterior and the interior show off a truly stylish and premium aesthetic, the Lexus also has features like LED headlights, power-adjustable seats, dual-zone climate control, and dynamic cruise control as standard. The Lexus is certainly a more premium vehicle in the infotainment department too, with Amazon Alexa compatibility, SiriusXM satellite radio, and voice control as standard. It also gets the option of a 10.3-inch infotainment display and an eight-speaker sound system, but the operation of the system is not as intuitive as that of the Buick. Overall, you'll get more with the Lexus, but you also pay more for that premium style, and in this segment, bang for buck almost always wins.

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