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2021 Buick Encore GX Review

As the newest subcompact crossover from Buick, the 2021 Encore GX is easy to get confused with its smaller sibling, the Encore. But don’t, please. The 2021 Buick Encore GX is a much better vehicle based on an all-new platform shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer.

The Buick Encore GX is more stylish and proportional than the standard Encore. It’s also a handsome and refined modern crossover SUV that shatters any misconceptions that Buick caters to a senior demographic.

Inside, the Encore GX offers plenty of room for full-grown humans, plus ample headroom (even with the available sunroof). The cabin is quite comfortable, but the materials in back don’t quite match the quality of those in front. That stated, higher trim levels like the Essence have a particularly rich interior with leather-covered seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Behind the rear seat, the new Encore GX has 23.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which compares favorably to the standard Encore’s 18.8 cubic feet.

What’s New for 2021?

The Buick Encore GX was entirely new for 2020, so little has changed for 2021. The GX continues to slot between the standard Encore and the larger Envision in overall size. See the 2021 Buick Encore GX models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Larger than standard Encore
  • Better-looking than standard Encore
  • Modern safety suite
  • All-wheel-drive model gets a 9-speed automatic transmission
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is standard

What We Don’t

  • Small 3-cylinder engines
  • CVT transmission on front-drive models
  • Confusing model name (another Encore, huh?)
  • Plasticky trim in back seat

How Much?

$25,195-$31,595

Fuel Economy

In Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy, the 2021 Buick Encore GX has an edge over the standard Encore. The front-drive 2021 Encore GX, equipped with the 137-horsepower 1.2-liter, is rated at 28 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined. Somewhat surprisingly, the front-drive Encore GX with the 155-hp 1.3-liter does even better, with EPA figures of 30 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/31 mpg combined.

The AWD version of the 1.3-liter Buick Encore GX doesn’t do nearly as well: It’s rated by the EPA at 26 mpg city/29 mpg highway/28 mpg combined. Note: The AWD 2021 Buick Encore GX does, however, have a switch that allows the driver to switch into fuel-saving FWD mode whenever desired.

Standard Features & Options

The 2021 Buick Encore GX comes in three trim levels: Preferred, Select and Essence.

The GX Preferred starts at $24,200, plus destination fee of $995. This Encore GX includes the 1.2-liter engine with FWD as well as a standard safety suite that includes automatic emergency braking, pedestrian braking and lane-keeping assist. In addition, the Preferred also includes push-button ignition, an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The GX Select, with heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control and a safety package that includes a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert, starts at $25,800.

With leather-covered seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and LED headlights, the GX Essence begins at $28,600.

All-wheel drive is available for an extra $2,000, but only on models equipped with the 1.3. Other options on the entry-level Encore GX Preferred model include a panoramic moonroof, a hands-free power lift gate, heated front seats, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

The Encore GX Select trim allows for an optional navigation system along with a head-up display (HUD), plus a rear camera mirror.

Options on the top model, the Encore GX Essence, include a 7-speaker Bose audio system, wireless smartphone charging, and a parking-assist program.

Safety

Standard on all trim levels of the Korean-built 2021 Buick Encore GX is a suite of six safety and driver assistance features. This includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, following distance indicator and IntelliBeam headlamps with automatically adjusting high/low beams.

Available safety features include rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, a rear camera mirror, adaptive cruise control and head-up display, automatic parking assist, and a high-definition surround vision camera system.

Behind the Wheel

The extra size of the Encore GX (compared to a standard Encore) makes it a great fit for everyday life. The optional 1.3-liter turbocharged engine with 155 horsepower makes the Encore GX quick enough to be fun, and we much prefer its conventional 9-speed automatic over the 1.2’s CVT.

With the 1.3, the Encore GX is perfect for darting around town and running errands. While it’s no sports car, the subcompact Encore GX is fun on a curvy road, aided by quick steering and a stable, confident feet.

The Essence interior is particularly good, but remember that this top model can touch $35,000 when fully loaded with options. Our quick take: The Buick Encore GX is nicer inside than a Honda HR-V or a Kia Seltos, but not quite up to par with the Acura RDX.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Mazda CX-30 The CX-30 is such an incredible value that it was named to Autotrader’s Best Cars For 2020.

2020 Honda HR-VHonda’s subcompact crossover SUV brings a ton of versatility in a tiny package as well as the manufacturer’s storied reliability.

2021 Kia SeltosKia’s stylish new subcompact crossover class offers a choice between two different 4-cylinder engines and available AWD.

2020 Audi Q3Audi‘s handsome subcompact makes a stylish statement — for a premium European price, of course.

2020 BMW X2BMW‘s sporty subcompact sacrifices practicality for performance, but if you’re looking for style and speed, the X2 has it. In spades.

Used Honda CR-V While it may not have as much safety as the Encore GX, a used Honda CR-V allows you to go larger for less coin. Go the CPO route.

Used Acura RDX A less obvious choice, perhaps, but you’ll be getting V6 power and sporty manners (but worse fuel economy) in a premium Acura package.

Questions You Might Ask

What’s the difference between a standard Buick Encore and the Encore GX?
The Buick Encore is a 168.4-inch vehicle with a 100.6-inch wheelbase. The 2021 Buick Encore GX is a bit larger. It’s a 171.4-inch vehicle with a 102.2-inch wheelbase. It’s also based on an all-new chassis.

Where is the 2021 Buick Encore GX made?
The 2021 Buick Encore GX is built in South Korea, at a GM assembly plant.

Is the new Buick Encore GX related to the Chevrolet Trailblazer?
The 2021 Buick Encore GX shares its platform with the new Chevy Trailblazer, and it’s powered by the same turbocharged 1.2- and 1.3-liter 3-cylinder engines.

Autotrader’s Advice

Buick’s Encore GX surpasses the standard but very successful Encore in just about every way, so we don’t know why anyone would choose the latter. The 2021 Buick Encore GX is loaded with standard safety tech, and the Select trim level continues to be a great value. And remember: We prefer the 1.3-liter/9-speed automatic powertrain over the 1.2-liter/CVT combination. Find a Buick Encore GX for sale

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