The Sport Touring Package adds nice touches to the 2020 Buick Encore GX, including unique bumpers and red grille accents. (Manufacturer photo)

The Sport Touring Package adds nice touches to the 2020 Buick Encore GX, including unique bumpers and red grille accents. (Manufacturer photo)

New 2020 Encore GX compact enhances the Buick SUV menu

Larger than the Encore, smaller than the Enclave, this stylish recent arrival fills a size niche.

The Encore GX compact SUV, an all-new model from Buick for 2020, is situated between the smaller Encore and larger Enclave in the company’s lineup. It gives prospective buyers yet another choice in the SUV category that makes up 90 percent of Buick sales in the United States.

Encore GX is great-looking, reflects Buick’s penchant for upscale components, and comes standard with beneficial safety and driver assistance features. Those features include front pedestrian braking, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, and lane keeping assist with lane departure warning.

There are three trim levels of the Encore GX: Preferred, Select, and Essence. All three are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Pricing with a $995 destination charge starts at $25,095 for a front-drive GX Preferred, whose standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and capability for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

One of two different turbocharged three-cylinder engines powers the Encore GX, depending on model and drive configuration: a 1.2-liter with 137 horsepower, or a 1.3-liter with 155 horsepower. And there are two different transmissions: a continuously variable automatic (CVT) or a nine-speed automatic.

An integrated touchscreen highlights the 2020 Buick Encore GX infotainment system, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. (Manufacturer photo)

An integrated touchscreen highlights the 2020 Buick Encore GX infotainment system, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. (Manufacturer photo)

My Encore GX for this review was a front-wheel-drive Essence with the CVT, whose base price is $29,495. An array of optional features and packages worth $4,600 adorned my Encore GX Essence with almost everything available except all-wheel drive, bringing the total cost to $34,115.

The highest-ticket item was an Advanced Technology Package for $1,790 adding an HD surround vision camera, driver’s head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and navigation.

Another package, Sport Touring, adds some sporty exterior touches that look nice but could be declined without heavy loss if saving $650 sounds better.

My tester’s combination of a 1.3-liter engine with front-wheel drive delivers the best fuel economy among all the Encore GX pairings: 30 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 31 mpg combined. Engine performance doesn’t elicit wide-eyed reactions, but it’s certainly capable for duties typically performed by a conventional compact SUV, and the turbo provides extra energy when accelerating after a stop.

Front seats are cushy but supportive, and interior space is generous. Even the back seat has adult-worthy headroom and legroom. The cargo area is smallish but far from useless. To be exact: 23.5 cubic feet with rear seats upright, and 50.2 cubic feet when folded.

The 2020 Buick Encore GX compact SUV offers a choice between two three-cylinder engines and front-wheel or all-wheel drive. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2020 Buick Encore GX compact SUV offers a choice between two three-cylinder engines and front-wheel or all-wheel drive. (Manufacturer photo)

2020 BUICK ENCORE GX ESSENCE FWD

Base price, including destination charge: $29,495

Price as driven: $34,115

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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