Buick Encore GX: Entry point in utility vehicles

For this vehicle and others, visit Findlay Automotive Group’s expansive inventory here.

With its days of producing cushy family sedans in the distant past, Buick is focused on marketing utility vehicles. The 2024 Encore GX is the entry point.

First introduced for 2020, the Encore GX supplemented the more basic/smaller Encore, which shared platforms and mechanicals with the original Chevrolet Trax. The Encore and the Trax were canceled for 2023, leaving the Encore GX as the smallest and least expensive vehicle in Buick’s three-model lineup that includes the compact Envision and the midsize Enclave.

Compared with the retired Encore, the 2024 Encore GX, which arrives this spring, is about 3 inches longer, 1 inch wider and it has slightly more than 1.5 extra inches between the front and rear wheels. The roofline is also 1.2 inches lower, resulting in a sleeker silhouette. The exterior dimensions mirror those of the Chevrolet Trailblazer, which isn’t surprising since they share the same platform and originate from the same plant in South Korea.

The most noticeable change is a larger and more attractive grille and the restyled headlights. The front and rear bumpers also have been redesigned. Along with Buick’s new tri-shield logo on the hood and liftgate, the GX appears more upscale, which is in keeping with the brand’s premium image.

The cabin receives a new dashboard that’s highlighted by a curved panel containing an 11-inch infotainment display plus an 8-inch driver-information screen. You might have expected Buick to replace the gear-shift lever with a more modern rotary dial or push buttons, but such is not the case.

The second-row split-folding back bench is set up theater-style, which provides good forward visibility and a decent amount of legroom for adult-sized passengers.

The GX’s stowage space with the rear seat in the upright position can be considered generous for a vehicle this size. A two-level load floor provides flexibility by creating a hiding spot for valuables.

Returning unaltered for 2024 are the two power plants. The base turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder makes 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The available turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder is rated at 155/174.

The front-wheel-drive GX comes with a continuously variable transmission. You need to get the 1.3 for all-wheel drive. The transmission is a nine-speed automatic.

Neither engine will set hearts aflutter with performance, but that’s not really the point. The FWD GX’s combined city/highway fuel-economy rating is a thrifty 30 mpg, regardless of engine. The 1.3 with AWD is rated at 27 mpg.

Buick has rejigged the trim-level designations for 2024. The base Preferred lists for $26,900, including destination charges ($30,700 for AWD). The content is on the basic side but this model includes a good assortment of active-safety technology such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection and automatic high-beam headlights.

The midgrade Sport Touring ($28,600) gets the 1.3-liter engine, premium seat covers, dual-zone climate control, flat-bottom steering wheel plus 18-inch gloss-black trim and wheels.

The top-end Avenir ($33,200) comes with leather-trimmed and heated front seats (power-adjustable for the driver), flat-folding front passenger seat, dual-zone climate control and 19-inch wheels. Optional Avenir content includes a panoramic moonroof, Bose audio system, hands-free power liftgate, rear park assist and wireless phone charging. Collectively, they could boost the list price above the $40,000 mark.

Aside from its tiny engines, the Encore GX is unique because it’s relatively affordable — no matter the trim level — for a vehicle from a premium brand. It also deftly straddles the line between similar but less-expensive Ford/GM/Toyota offerings and premium-priced BMW, Audi, Lexus compacts.

Positioned in a category unto itself just might serve the Encore GX well in the long run.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
pos-2 — ads_infeed_1
post-4 — ads_infeed_2