With Buick seeing sales success in our crossover-crazed world, it’s no wonder the company is adding to its crossover lineup with the 2020 Buick Encore GX. It sits just above the existing Encore, and it offers more space and new turbocharged engines for just a bit more money. In fact, as it starts at just $900 more than the existing Encore and offers more power, space and fuel economy, it’s unquestionably the Encore version to get when heading to your Buick dealer. But compared with other crossovers, the Buick’s only real advantage is in its quietness, refined powertrain and upmarket badge. Otherwise it's a fine but unexceptional crossover. Powering the Encore GX is your choice of small turbocharged three-cylinder engines. The standard engine, available with every trim, is a 1.2-liter unit making 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. It’s only able to be paired with a CVT and front-wheel drive. It’s also not the most efficient powertrain offering, returning 28 mpg in town, 31 on the highway, and 29 combined. The optional engine, available only on the upper two trims Select and Essence, is a 1.3-liter example making 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. This engine can be paired with a CVT and front-wheel drive, or a nine-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel-drive. Also, because of efficiency boosters such as an offset crankshaft, electric oil pump, electric brake booster and electric turbo wastegate, it’s the most efficient choice. With the CVT and front-wheel drive, the Encore GX manages 30 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway, and 31 combined. The all-wheel-drive version only gets 26 mpg in town, 29 on the highway and 28 combined. Our test car was an Encore GX with the 1.3-liter engine and the CVT, and on paper, it’s the engine to go with. It’s more power with less fuel use. And while it’s not the most powerful car in its segment, its torque is accessible throughout the rev band, so it never feels slow. Buick has done an excellent job keeping the engine quiet, either through powertrain refinement or through extensive sound deadening. You’ll never hear more than a faint growl from under the hood. The CVT is absolutely the transmission to choose, too. It’s amazingly smooth and unobtrusive. The revs are always kept low and there’s just enough variance in them that it doesn’t feel like a rubber band. It responds fast to your right foot, too, so you aren’t waiting for more rpm when needing to accelerate faster. This is in stark contrast to the experience Road Test Editor Zac Palmer had in the nine-speed-equipped Chevy Trailblazer, which has the same powertrain options as the Encore GX. He found the transmission to be a bit jerky and sluggish. So unless you’re on a budget or need all-wheel-drive, go for the 1.3-liter and CVT combination. Building on the well-isolated powertrain is a tremendously quiet cabin. There’s almost no tire, wind or road noise. You might hear a very light thump going over …
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|MPG||26 City / 29 Hwy|
|Transmission||9-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||155 @ 5600 rpm|
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