The Encore GX is a no non-sense SUV with a small footprint, but that’s about it

The Buick Encore GX is marketed as a small luxury SUV and it lives up to its name. It comes with a lot of features in the base trim and offers two engine options and drive layouts for you to choose from. The SUV looks decent on the outside, is as spacious as its rivals on the inside, and generates enough grunt to keep you happy pottering around in the city. For tasks like carrying your grocery and taking your kid to school, this urban commuter does its job well. But, expecting anything beyond it is a cardinal sin. With a fairly low starting price and heavy discounts on offer, will you choose this over the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1?

Buick Encore GX Powertrain, Fuel Economy, and Towing

  • 1.2-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine
  • 137 Horsepower
  • 162 pound-feet of torque
  • Continuous Variable Transmission
  • 1.3-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged mill
  • 155 Horsepower
  • 174 pound-feet of torque
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Towing capacity of up to 1,000 pounds
2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Drivetrain
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The Buick Encore GX is offered with two engine options. First up is the 1.2-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that 137 ponies at 5,000 rpm and 162 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. The other one is a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that dishes out 155 horses at 5,600 rpm and 174 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm. The latter doesn’t just bring more horses to the table, but also offers higher peak torque at lower rpm.

The Encore GX is offered in three trims – Preferred, Select, and Essence. All the trims are available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive layouts. The front-wheel-drive models come with the 1.2-liter mill as standard that’s paired to a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT). The all-wheel-drive models are offered with a 1.3-liter mill that sends power to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. These are the standard configurations, but you can play around with the configurator on Buick’s website and choose a combination as per your needs.

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Drivetrain
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Buick Encore specifications
Engine Ecotec 1.3L turbocharged DOHC I-4
Fuel Gas
Horsepower 155 HP @ 5,600 rpm
Torque 174 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Drive FWD/AWD
Towing Capacity 1000
Fuel Economy 30/32/31
Curb Weight 3,237
Fuel Capacity 13.2

How Much Can The Buick Encore GX Tow?

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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The Encore GX is rated to tow up to 1,000 pounds. While it isn’t much of a concern since it is a small, luxury SUV, it is the Encore GX’s rivals that make it look bad. The Audi Q3 can tow up to 4,400 pounds whereas the BMW X1 can tow up to 3,700 pounds.

What Is The Buick Encore GX’s Fuel Economy?

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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With the 1.2-liter mill under the hood – which can be had only with the front-wheel-drive layout – the Buick Encore GX delivers 26 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined. These figures get even better when you opt for the more powerful engine. In the front-wheel-drive layout, the 1.3-liter engine returns an EPA-estimated economy of 30 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined. The all-wheel-drive layout delivers 26 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined.

These figures are better than the Audi Q3’s, which returns 19 miles per gallon in the city, 27 on the highway, and 22 mpg combined, and the BMW X1 in most cases, which comes with fuel economy figures of 24 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined.

Buick Encore GX Exterior Design

  • Neutral, uninspiring design
  • LED headlights and foglamps
  • 18-inch machined aluminum wheels
  • All-season tires
  • LED taillights
  • No overdose of chrome
2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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The Buick Encore is as neutral as an SUV can get. There are no radical, erratic design elements on it, and neither is there anything striking or drool-worthy about it. Up front sit a fat, black grille with a chrome strip running in-between with the Buick logo in the middle. In the top trim, it comes with LED headlights. The foglamp housing has black surrounds with LED foglamps in the Essence model. A faux skid plate of sorts is also present at the bottom, finished in chrome, which breaks the black monotony. Opt for the Sport Touring package and the chrome is deleted here.

The side profile makes the Encore GX looks like a bloated hatchback with SUV elements more than a proper SUV. There is black plastic cladding running at the bottom and on the wheel arches. The Encore GX rides on 18-inch machined aluminum wheels wrapped in all-season tires. Not a bad choice for an SUV at this price point. Buick, however, went the cost-cutting route by offering a 16-inch steel wheel as a spare tire. The doors have prominent creases and lines. The window line tapers upwards at the back. The Encore GX also comes with roof rails that are also functional and not just aesthetic.

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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If you’ve always considered Buick to be a grandad brand, well, the rear will make your notions stronger. It is a simple derriere that no one will call a good-looking one. The taillights, which are LED on the top trim, are half on the tailgate and half on the body. The tailgate is clean with just the Buick logo and ‘Encore GX’ branding. The bumper comes with a dull aluminum shade that looks cheap. A faux skid plate and a chrome strip can be seen here, too. The tires look skinny from this angle, and if appearance matters to you, we’d recommend getting a wider set of tires. In terms of performance, the stock tires feel alright, though.

How Big is The Buick Encore GX?

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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The Encore is marketed as a small, luxury SUV, so we can’t really complain. In fact, if you are looking at a compact-sized SUV, it fits the bill very well. When compared to the German competition, it is not the longest or the widest, but it is the tallest. The Encore is 168.4 inches long, 71.4 inches wide, and 65.2 inches tall. The Audi Q3 measures 176.6 inches in length, 72.8 inches in width, and 64.1 inches in height. This is closely matched by the BMW X1, which measures 175.5 inches, 71.7 inches, and 62.9 inches in length, width, and height, respectively.

Buick Encore exterior dimensions
Length 168.4
Width 71.4
Height 65.2
Wheelbase 102.2
Front Track 61.1
Rear Track 61.9

Undoubtedly, it also has the shortest wheelbase, measuring 102.2 inches. The Q3 and X1 have wheelbases that measure 105.5– and 105.1 inches respectively. The Buick Encore GX comes with a front track of 61.1 inches and 61.9 inches. The Q3’s front track is 62.2 inches and the rear track is 61.9 inches, whereas, in the case of the BMW X1, it is 61.5- and 61.6 inches for the front and the rear track.

How Much Does The Buick Encore GX Weigh?

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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The Encore has a small footprint and a small engine, so its curb weight should also be fairly low, unless it’s built like a tank – which by the way, is not the case. The Buick Encore weighs 3,237 pounds, making it over 200 pounds lighter than the 3,567-pound BMW X1 and almost 700 pounds lighter than the Audi Q3, which weighs 3,905 pounds.

Buick Encore GX Interior Design

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • 4.2-inch MID screen
  • Eight-inch touchscreen system
  • Supports Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto
  • Six-speaker audio system with amplifier
  • Cruise control
2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Interior
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The cabin is surprisingly pleasant and not as boring as the exterior. It comes in a dual-tone black-and-beige theme that won’t make you feel claustrophobic. The thick, meaty steering wheel comes with thumb contours and a leather wrap. The two dials in the instrument cluster have silver bezels around them. There’s a 4.2-inch MID screen in the middle that shows drive-related data. Nothing extraordinary here. A well-laid-out center console houses an eight-inch touchscreen system that supports Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. Buick offers a three month Sirius XM subscription with it. There are active noise cancellation and air ionizers, too; à la Jaguar-Land Rover features.

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Interior
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The leather-appointed seats look nice and feel premium. The driver’s seat is 10-way powered whereas the passenger seat comes with an eight-way functionality. Other features inside the cabin include:

  • Heated seats
  • Memory drivers’ seats
  • Six-speaker audio system with amplifier
  • 40/60 split-folding rear seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Keyless Entry
  • Universal home remote
  • Cruise control

How Spacious Is The Buick Encore GX?

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Interior
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The Encore is rather spacious given its exterior dimensions. It offers headroom of 39.7 inches, legroom of 40.9 inches, and shoulder room of 55.4 inches in the first row. This is on par with the Q3’s 39.6-inch headroom, 40-inch legroom, and 56.7-inch shoulder room. The X1, on the other hand, offers 41.9 inches of headroom, 40.4 inches of legroom, and 55.6 inches of shoulder room.

Buick Encore interior dimensions
1st Row Headroom 39.7
1st Row Leg Room 40.9
1st Row Shoulder Room 55.4
1st Row Hip Room 51.9
2nd Row Headroom 38.1
2nd Row Leg Room 36
2nd Row Shoulder Room 53.6
2nd Row Hip Room 47.5
2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Interior
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As for the second-row dimensions, the Buick Encore comes with 38.1 inches of headroom, which happens to be more than Q3’s 36.3 inches and X1’s 37 inches. In terms of legroom, the Encore offers 36 inches of space, the Q3 offers 36.1 inches, and the X1 offers 37 inches. In terms of shoulder room, it measures 53.6 inches, 55.1 inches, and 55.2 inches for the Encore, Q3, and the X1, respectively.

How Much Cargo Space Does The Buick Encore GX Offer?

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Interior
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The Encore GX surprisingly offers cargo room that’s on par with the rivals. The Encore GX’s cargo room is rated at 23.5 cubic feet, which is much lesser than the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1 that offer 23.7 and 27.1 cubic feet of space respectively. Flip down the rear seats and you have 50.2 cubic feet of space available at your disposal in the Buick, 48 cubic feet in the Audi, and a massive 58.7 cubic feet of space in the Bimmer.

Buick Encore GX Pricing

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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The 2020 Encore GX offers immense bang for the buck. It is offered in three trims – the base Preferred starts at $25,095, the mid Select starts at $26,695, whereas the top Essence starts at $29,495. These are the prices for the 1.2-liter, front-wheel-drive models. The 1.3-liter can be had on the front-wheel-drive layouts on the Select and Essence trims, too.

The all-wheel-drive models with the bigger engine start at $27,095 for the Preferred trim, $28,675 for the Select trim, and $31,495 for the Essence trim. Interestingly, Buick is offering discounts over $3,500 on certain trims of the 2020 Encore GX at the time of writing.

<Is The Buick Encore GX Better Than The Audi Q3?>

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Unless you’re on a tight budget, the answer is no. Audi offers not just better brand value, but a better product as a whole. The base trim on the Q3 starts at $34,000, which is a couple of thousand bucks more than the top trim of the Buick Encore GX, but it comes with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horses and 221 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all the wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This sprint machine takes just 8.6 seconds to 60 mph and has a top speed of 130 mph.

The base trim also comes with goodies like a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, three-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights and taillights, panoramic sunroof, etc. It certainly looks more bang-for-the-buck when compared to Buick Encore GX’s top-trim.

Buick Encore vs Audi Q3
Buick Encore Audi Q3
Engine Ecotec 1.3L turbocharged DOHC I-4 2.0 TFSI®, 4 CYL
Fuel Gas Gas
Horsepower 155 HP @ 5,600 rpm 228 @ 5,000—6,700
Torque 174 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 258 @ 1,700—4,400
Transmission Six-speed automatic Eight-speedTiptronic
Drive FWD/AWD AWD
Towing Capacity 1000 4400
Fuel Economy 30/32/31 19/27/22
Curb Weight 3,237 3,905
Fuel Capacity 13.2 15.9
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Read our full review on the Audi Q3

Is The Buick Encore GX Better Than The BMW X1?

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It’s the same answer here, too. The base trim of the BMW X1 is priced at $35,400, which is a lot more than the Encore GX top-trim’s price. But, you get a bigger 2.0-liter, twin-turbo engine that churns out 228 ponies and 258 pound-feet of twist. Power is sent to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It takes merely 6.6 seconds to sprint to 60 mph and has a top speed of 130 mph.

The X1 rides on 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires. It comes with an 8.8-inch touchscreen system that supports Apple CarPlay. A seven-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, power tailgate, rear-view camera, etc. are some of the features offered even on the base trim.

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Buick Encore vs BMW X1
Buick Encore BMW X1
Engine Ecotec 1.3L turbocharged DOHC I-4 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder
Fuel Gas Gas
Horsepower 155 HP @ 5,600 rpm 228 @ 5000-6000
Torque 174 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 258 @ 1450-4500
Transmission Six-speed automatic 8-speed STEPTRONIC Automatic
Drive FWD/AWD AWd
Towing Capacity 1000 3700
Fuel Economy 30/32/31 24/33/27
Curb Weight 3,237 3,567
Fuel Capacity 13.2 16.1

Read our full review on the BMW X1

Final Thoughts

2020 Buick Encore GX - Driven Exterior
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There’s nothing wrong with the Buick Encore GX, but not a lot of people will be able to strike a connection with it. It is utilitarian, compact-sized, and is a good urban commuter. However, if you’re looking for even a little oomph and pizzazz from your vehicle, the Encore GX will leave you wanting for more. With heavy offers on the 2020 models, it is a lucrative proposition; but, if you are looking for anything more than ‘getting the job’ done, look elsewhere. The BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, on the other hand, offer better engines, better features, and better builds at a slightly higher price. As I mentioned earlier, unless you’re on a tight budget or a loyal Buick fan, opting for the Encore GX doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So, all-in-all, the Encore GX is the jack of all trades and master of none at the end of the day.

  • Leave it
    • Uninspiring in all the departments
    • Rivals offer better products at a slightly higher price
    • Buick’s grandad image could be a deal-breaker for the younger folks

Source: Photo Credit: Phil Daix

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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