Sunday, November 1, 2020

2020 Buick Encore GS Essence: A New Compact Crossover

Highlight: Our adult bike was capable of fitting inside the compact crossover.

Test Vehicles MSRP: $34,115 (Preferred Model: $24,195) 

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; a stability control system;  a rearview camera; automatic emergency braking; front pedestrian braking; a forward collision alert system; a following distance indicator; a lane keep assist system with lane departure warning; an automatic high beams; automatic emergency braking; a teen driver safety system; a tire pressure monitoring system; a compact spare tire; and OnStar safety system

Standard Equipment (Select): 18-inch wheels; a 9-speed automatic transmission; a push button ignition starter system; a start-stop fuel saving system; cloth seats/pseudo leather; manual adjustable front seats; a map pocket driver’s seat; a manual operated inside day/night rearview mirror; semi-automatic a/c; a cargo security cover; in-car WiFi system; 60/40 rear seats; a manual operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a leather wrapped three-spoke steering wheel; a capless fuel fill door; and a manual operated lift gate

Standard Equipment (Essence): SiriusXM radio; rear center armrest; a dual zone a/c system; a blind spot lane changing system; memory setting seats; a quiet tuning suspension system; a rear cross traffic alert system; a power driver’s seat; heated front seats; a heated steering wheel; and a luggage roof rack

Options: an 8-inch infotainment screen; navigation system; a radar activated cruise control system; a HD surround camera system; a heads up display system; an automatic parking assist system with braking; a rear camera mirror with washer; a wireless charging system; a rain sense wiper system; an automatic parking assist system; a hands-free power liftgate; body color rocking moldings; bodyside color moldings; custom grille; 18-inch medium high gloss wheels; front and rear red bumper protective molding; front sport bumper; a rear sport bumper; a sport touring badge; metallic exterior paint; and 1.3-liter ECOTEC turbo engine

Other Trim Levels:



Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: an 6-speaker audio system with AM/FM

Bluetooth Connectivity: Standard

USB Connectivity: Standard

Apple/Android Connectivity: Standard

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo/137-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 26-city/30-hwy

What’s New: The Encore GX is the newest addition to Buick’s growing crossover portfolio. The vehicle is positioned between the awkward looking Encore and the larger Envision crossovers.

Why: The Encore GX has hit a sweet spot in the compact crossover segment. Unlike the entry level Encore, the stylish Encore GX exterior design is balanced and well proportioned.

The cozy five-seater is available in four trims with in either a front wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration.

For a starting price just a hare over $24,000, the Encore GX is outfitted with a number of driver assist aids ranging from a lane keep assist system to an automatic emergency braking system to a forward collision braking system to automatic high beams.

Inside the vehicle, depending on the trim one can find leather seats, a heated steering wheel, power front seats and a power moonroof. One will also find the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system easy to both operate and navigate, no pun intended.

Moreover, for those seeking to add some extra oomph under the hood, an optional 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder is available. This peppier engine increased the standard horsepower from 137-horsepower to 155-horsepower. Our Encore GS was also trimmed out in red. It was noticeable in the black meshed grille as well around the outlines of the exterior paint finish.

Furthermore, the easy to maneuver Encore GS, with its car-like ride and handling capabilities were exceptional. Lastly, the compact crossover rear seats can be lowered, offering the pint size vehicle more utility space. In fact, when the rear seat was lowered, we were able to throw an adult bike in the rear.

But: The Encore GS cargo space is limited when occupants are in the rear. Moreover, the HUD system worked intermittently. The projection screen on the windshield seemed like an afterthought. Buick needs to redesign their HUD system, without using a flimsy piece of plastic to project data onto the windshield.

Verdict: The stylish Encore GX will continue to bring new customers to the Buick brand. Unlike Buicks of the past, this sporty vehicle will appeal to first time buyers, small families, and empty nesters. Its price right and offers a number of features won’t push the vehicle out of the affordability range.

Competition: Honda HR-V; Jeep Compass; Mazda CX-3; and Mazda CX-30


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