The Buick Encore is continuing to sell the Encore alongside the newer Encore GX. Although the two nameplates sound quite similar, they are completely different vehicles. The Encore was initially said to be on the chopping block with the Chevy Trax. In response to reports that the Encore and Trax would be discontinued, a GM spokesperson subsequently stated "Chevy will continue to offer five distinct SUVs in the U.S. and Canada going forward," according to The Car Connection. As a result, GM’s plans for Encore may not be very clear-cut. A decision to keep the Encore could be somewhat perplexing given the fact that the crossover has almost the same MSRP as the larger Encore GX. Small in stature but big on style, the 2023 Buick Encore GX is a compact crossover SUV worth shopping against the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and even the Volvo XC40. The Encore GX splits the difference between mainstream and luxury. It’s appealing in most ways and it boasts a reasonable price tag, earning it a TCC Rating of 5.7 out of 10. (Read more about the 2023 Encore GX returns with few tweaks, though it has finally outlived its Encore (minus the GX) showroom mate, a largely unrelated model that has been dropped. The Encore GX wears handsome lines inside and out, and it’s powered by either a 137-hp 1.2-liter turbo-3 or a slightly bigger 155-hp 1.3-liter turbo-4, both of which are shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer. Front-drive models use a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is optional, and it pairs with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The fuel economy is decent at 30 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, though those models are saddled with the lower-power engine and offer middling acceleration. It may be small, but the Encore GX generally makes good use of its cabin. Higher-trim versions have leather seats, but all Encore GX models are a cut above like-priced rivals when it comes to interior materials. Standard fare includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A five-star crash-test rating from the NHTSA and standard automatic emergency braking offset Buick’s stinginess when it comes to adaptive cruise control, which is only offered on the range-topping Essence trim.
The Encore GX wears mature, classy lines inside and out that somewhat cancel out its narrow basketball shoe-like profile. We rate it a 6 out of 10.LED headlights project just above the broad grille. From the side, the Encore GX features big wheel wells and enough surface detailing to relieve any hint of slab-sidedness. A complex rearmost roof pillar gives way to somewhat ordinary taillights, which are mounted high up. A $695 Sport Touring package includes color-matched exterior trim for those averse to black plastic.
Inside, look for standard cloth or leather on the Essence trim. All models share a winged dash design with a slightly inconvenient 8.0-inch touchscreen that could be canted at a better angle—it tilts away from the driver at its top. How fast is the Buick Encore GX? Base Encore GX models use a 137-hp 1.2-liter turbo-3 paired with a CVT, while all-wheel-drive and higher-end models swap in an upsized 1.3-liter turbo-3 rated at 155 hp. Even with that limited power, the CVT does a nice enough job keeping the engine in a sweet spot between noise and motivation, though the 9-speed automatic is also plenty refined. All that sound deadening added as part of the Buick experience helps, too. Buick rates the Encore GX to tow 1,000 lb, which should only be done at city speeds, we think. The Encore GX rides comfortably, with good impact absorption accompanied by a little too much underbody thrum for us. Road and wind noise are kept in check, though. The balanced chassis serves up confident handling, mired only by a dull steering feel. Buick makes good use of the 2023 Encore GX’s small size when it comes to cargo-carrying ability, but we can’t overlook its pinching front seats. We rate it 5 out of 10 for comfort and quality. Power-adjustable front seats on higher-end models offer a good range of adjustment, though those with wider bodies will find the seats to be too confining. The rear seat has good space for two, but not three abreast. Wide rear doors for a smaller crossover help out, too. Nearly 24 cubic feet of space lies behind the rear seatback, which can grow to more than double that if needed. Additionally, the right-front seatback folds flat for longer items.
One perk: terrific sound deadening gives the Encore GX a comfortable, quiet feel on the road. How safe is the Buick Encore GX? It’s a safe choice. Good IIHS safety scores and good standard spec elevate the 2023 Buick Encore GX to a 7 out of 10. The NHTSA has rated it at five stars overall in the past, though it hasn’t updated scores for the new model year. The IIHS follows suit with a Top Safety Pick score so long as you pick the Essence trim with its better-LED headlights.
Automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and active lane control are joined by a slew of airbags. A surround-view camera system is optional—and might be a good choice given tricky over-the-shoulder outward vision. A rear camera mirror and the adaptive cruise control can also be added, but only to the Essence trim. With the discontinuation of the Encore, the 2023 Encore GX is the smallest vehicle Buick sells. It’s a decent entry point into crossover ownership, but it lacks refinement. The Encore GX is mechanically related to the cheaper Chevrolet Trailblazer.
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