Buick Encore GX — A notable refreshening


By Jim Meachen
Editor, MotorwayAmerica.com

(August 27, 2023) It has been Buick's best-selling nameplate for several years so it stands to reason that the brand's designers were given the task of making a mid-cycle refresh look, well, really refreshing. The front of the small Encore GX crossover SUV has been restyled to the point that a casual overseer could easily think the car has been given a ground-up redesign. It's a good move to keep would-be buyers — especially owners of an older Encore GX — to consider a new Encore when when vehicle shopping.

Sliding behind the wheel of the 2024 model will only further lead the shopper into thinking the Buick is "all new." The interior is now dominated by a single sweep of curved glass that makes the 8.0-inch digital cluster and 11.0-inch touchscreen appear larger than they are. We admit, it's a very fetching look in our new age of big-screen technology.

An 11.0-inch touchscreen provides access to Buick's latest user interface, which is both snappy in its responses and intuitive to use. A separate 8.0-inch screen serves as the driver's gauge display.


The front-end makeover includes sleeker exterior lighting elements, reshaped front and rear bumpers, and an updated grille. The Encore GX gets Buick's updated Tri-Shield logo on the nose and tail. And to round out the new look, the mid-range Select trim has been replaced with the Sport Touring model and wears black aluminum wheels, a gloss-black mesh grille, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. It's the trim we drove for a week in Cinnabar Metallic (a burgundy-like color) and it caught the eye of several onlookers who expressed admiration and wanted to know what we were driving.

What makes this a refreshening and not a total makeover is that the Encore carries on with the same engine and transmission setups, the same exterior styling disguised in the new grille and lighting treatments, the same interior space and the same driving and ride qualities as the original 2019 GX model. Which means this is a small crossover that is easy to live with every day — with an appealing interior, good seats and a comfortable if slightly soft ride.

What hasn't changed is the choice of two engines — a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder making 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque and a turbocharged 1.3 liter three-cylinder making 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The smaller engine gets a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in front-wheel drive configuration, and the larger is mated to a 9-speed automatic with AWD. We recommend you avoid the smaller powerplant — decidedly slow and definitely non-luxury.

Our 1.3-liter test car felt quite peppy around town with plenty of torque available for quick starts, but it ran out of breath when merging into the fast lane or when we had a need to quickly pass a slower vehicle on a two-lane road. For comparison purposes the 1.3-liter has been clocked in 9.3 seconds from 0-to-60. FYI — the 1.3-liter seems to perform better in getting up to speed than the published numbers would indicate.

One annoying note —the engine stop-start system bucks the car when it fires back up at a stoplight. Thankfully, it can be shut off.

And another thing — we would purchase the all-wheel drive model over the front-drive version, because the AWD comes with a proper 9-speed automatic transmission while the front-drive is outfitted with continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Our problem with Buick's choice of engines in what presumes to be a near-luxury offering, is they are buzzy and lacking the necessary horsepower and sophistication to truly push the Buick into equal footing with such luxury nameplates as the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and Volvo XC40. It's better equipped to compete with such mainstream nameplates as the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-30.

The Encore GX measures 171.4 inches in length with a 102.2-inch wheelbase. This size and packaging works especially well for rear-seat passengers who don't have to negotiate with their front-seat counterparts for more legroom, unless they are a few inches over six feet tall. We know because we put two people back there without complaint for an evening out — and with enough room left over for a modicum of cargo, measured at 23.5 cubic feet behind the seats. Also the front passenger seat folds flat, to hold extra-long items. Cargo space can be increased to 50 cubic feet with the rear seats fold completely flat.

The little Buick offers a useful amount of up-front storage. The front door pockets will each hold a water bottle, and you can place small items in the front storage bin — where the wireless charging pad is housed — in the cubby aft of the cupholders, or in the narrow but deep under-arm storage. Back-seat space is a little more limited, but the door pockets will hold a water bottle.

The interior is thoughtfully designed and relatively easy to use. It's a nice mix of digital and analog, with physical buttons used for some controls that other cars might bury in a screen menu. The infotainment interface is easy to use and features snappy responses. We do wish for a good, old-fashioned tuning knob, such as featured on the outgoing Encore GX. Unfortunately, automakers are moving away from the easiest form of changing stations — a proper good old-fashioned knob — to a driver distracting controls in the infotainment system. And the new Buick Encore GX has joined the no-knob party.

The Encore GXcomes in three trim levels — Preferred, Sport Touring, and top-of-the-line Avenir. Although the Sport Touring doesn't have all the bells and whistles that come with the Avenir, we think it is the smart buy especially if you add a few desirable options.

Sport Touring base price is $29,695 including destination. Options on our test car that included the Technology Package ($1,095) that adds adaptive cruise; Bose premium speaker system ($500); Experience Package ($1,695) that adds a panoramic power moonroof, and 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels.

Bottom line on our test car was $35,025.  Base prices start at $26,895 for Preferred and rise to $33,195 for Avenir.

2024 Buick Encore GX


Base price: $26,895; as driven, $35,025
Engine: 1.3-liter turbocharged 3 cylinder
Horsepower: 155 @ 5,600 rpm
Tongue: 174 @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Wheelbase: 102.2 inches
Length: 171.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,255 pounds
Turning circle 36.9 feet
Seating: 2/3
Luggage capacity: 23.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 50.2 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 26 city, 28 highway, 27 combined
0-60: 9.3 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW X1, Kia Seltos SX, Mazda CX-30

The Good
• Attractive styling
• Quiet interior
• Good ride quality

The Bad
• Doesn't have the panache of European counterparts

The Ugly
• Underwhelming performance