Ford broke the ice on selling three-cylinder engines in the U.S. with the 2014 Fiesta, then followed up with the EcoSport. Buick is about to widen that supermini-sized crack in the ice with the 2020 Encore GX. The semi-subcompact crossover will come in three trim levels that mix-and-match two turbocharged three-cylinder engines, two transmissions, and two drivetrains. The smaller engine is a 1.2-liter three-pot with 137 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. This comes in one horse and 18 lb-ft of twist beyond the 1.4-liter four-cylinder in the smaller Encore. This engine will only be paired with a CVT and front-wheel drive in the Preferred, Select, and Essence trims.
The meatier motor is a 1.3-liter three-cylinder with 155 hp and 174 lb-ft. That's down on the 163 hp and 177 lb-ft that the same engine produces in the Chinese-market version of the Encore GX. However, it gets buyers close to the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that used to be optional on the smaller Encore, producing 153 hp and 177 lb-ft. This engine can be optioned on the front-wheel drive Select and Essence trims, where it would be mated to the CVT. The 1.3-liter three-cylinder is standard on all trims optioned with all-wheel drive, where it gets paired with GM's nine-speed automatic. GM does say the horsepower figures are estimates at the moment, so don't be surprised at any slight changes before deliveries begin next year.
The Encore GX will serve buyers who would love it if the Encore had a bit more room but don't want to step up to the Envision. For a price GM hasn't announced yet, the Encore GX will reward those buyers with five more feet of cargo space, and some extra power for all those who decide to level up further. The junior Encore weighs just over 3,200 pounds, it's likely the Encore GX will shade that some. The Encore GX does ride on GM's new VSS-F platform, though, so the advanced architecture could provide an overall superior experience even with the lesser three-cylinder.
GM has also said that the Encore GX will come standard with safety kit like forward collision alert and lane keep assist with a lane departure warning, features that are cost extras on the Encore. The Encore GX will also include automatic emergency braking, which can't be had on the Encore at any price.