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2024 Buick Encore GX: Affordable and stylish subcompact keeps performance on the down-low

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.
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The styling update for 2024 keeps the Encore GX looking fresh, although the previous low-powered three-cylinder engines carry over. All-wheel-drive is optional. Note Buick’s updated crest consisting of three shields. PHOTO: BUICK

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 is about 7.5 centimetres longer, 2.5 centimetres wider and it has about four extra centimetres between the front and rear wheels. The roofline is also three centimetres 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 Korea.

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

Aside from its tiny engine, the Encore GX is unique because it’s relatively affordable — no matter the trim level — for a vehicle from a premium brand. Photo: Buick
Aside from its tiny engine, the Encore GX is unique because it’s relatively affordable — no matter the trim level — for a vehicle from a premium brand. Photo: Buick

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

The second-row split-folding back bench is set up theatre-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 is a turbocharged 1.3-litre three-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque.

The front-wheel-drive (FWD) GX comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The all-wheel-drive (AWD) version is equipped with a nine-speed automatic.

The engine won’t 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 8.0 l/100 km in the city, 7.6 on the highway and 7.8 city/highway combined. The numbers for the AWD version are 9.1/8.4/8.8.

The Encore GX’s interior certainly looks upscale — especially the wide curved dash panel — although the materials used are quite basic. PHOTO: BUICK
The Encore GX’s interior certainly looks upscale — especially the wide curved dash panel — although the materials used are quite basic. PHOTO: BUICK

Buick has rejigged the trim-level designations for 2024. The base Preferred lists for $29,650, including destination charges ($31,650 for the AWD version). 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 AWD Sport Touring ($33,300) gets premium seat covers, dual-zone climate control, flat-bottom steering wheel plus 18-inch gloss-black trim and wheels.

The top-end AWD Avenir ($36,100) 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 engine, 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.

The updated Encore GX receives a new dashboard that’s highlighted by a curved panel containing an 11-inch infotainment display plus an eight-inch driver-information screen. PHOTO: BUICK
The updated Encore GX receives a new dashboard that’s highlighted by a curved panel containing an 11-inch infotainment display plus an eight-inch driver-information screen. PHOTO: BUICK

What you should know: 2024 Buick Encore GX

Type: Front- /all-wheel-drive subcompact utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 1.3-litre I-3, turbocharged (155)

Transmissions: Continuously variable (CVT); nine-speed automatic (AWD)

Market position: The updated Encore GX is for buyers looking for a well-equipped, high-value small vehicle that’s good on fuel and principally used for urban travel.

Points: Mild redesign results in a classier-looking vehicle. • Interior is now more upscale-looking, thanks to the new infotainment and instrument displays. • The standard turbocharged three-cylinder engine is reasonably fuel-efficient, but it lacks output, especially when compared with competing entry-luxury models. • Top-end Avenir trim deserves more standard content and a much more powerful engine.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (n.a.); lane-keeping assist (std.); pedestrian warning (std.); automatic high beams (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy): 8.0/7.6 (FWD)

Base price (incl. destination): $29,650

The Encore GX’s second-row split-folding rear bench seat is set up theatre-style, providing good forward visibility and a decent amount of legroom for adult-sized passengers. PHOTO: BUICK
The Encore GX’s second-row split-folding rear bench seat is set up theatre-style, providing good forward visibility and a decent amount of legroom for adult-sized passengers. PHOTO: BUICK

BY COMPARISON

Cadillac XT4

  • Base price: $41,100
  • Small utility model comes with a 237-h.p. turbo I-4. All-wheel-drive is optional.

Lincoln Corsair

  • Base price: $51,400
  • Smallest of four Lincolns offers turbo I-4 choices and a hybrid.

Lexus UX

  • Base price: $45,400
  • A 181-h.p. hybrid system is standard for all trims. AWD is standard.

– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

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