2024 Buick Encore GX Is Stuck Between Mainstream And Premium

By May 8, 2024Buick
2024 Buick Encore GX

The 2024 Buick Encore GX remains a vehicle I have a lot of difficulty positioning within the current automotive industry. I mean, Buick as a whole is a carmaker I don’t quite get. Very much like the Buick Envista that I drove a few weeks back, the Encore GX blurs the lines between mainstream and premium. It’s priced in a way to attract young consumers looking for a premium badge, but it’s also not premium enough to truly compete against luxury nameplates. It’s therefore stuck in a weird twilight zone.

2024 Buick Encore GX: Buick Finally Has A Face

2024 Buick Encore GXThe Encore GX was only added to Buick’s lineup in 2020 alongside its corporate twin, the Chevrolet Trailblazer. Replacing the old Encore, which was essentially a luxed up Chevrolet Trax. The GX then underwent a refresh in 2023 in order to fit better with Buick’s latest models.2024 Buick Encore GXThat face, which looks like the Envista’s and everything else Buick sells these days, was born out of the brand’s Pure Design philosophy. It arrived at the same time as a new corporate image and logo for Buick and I must say, it looks fresh, modern and adequately distinctive. Buick now has a face instead of looking like rebadged Chevy. That’s a very important step forward for any premium brand, especially one like Buick that’s been looking to rejuvenate its brand image.2024 Buick Encore GXYes, this is essentially a mechanical clone to the Envista and Trax, except the Encore GX does come with the added benefit of all-wheel drive. It also gets the “larger” of GM’s two turbocharged three-cylinder engines. While the Trax and Envista get the 1.2-liter unit, the Encore GX sold here in Canada ups the displacement to a whopping 1.3-liters. Jokes aside, it’s good for a frankly impressive 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, For some weird reason, though, front-wheel drive models are stuck with a lame continuously variable transmission (CVT). Opt for all-wheel drive, and you at least get a real, nine-speed automatic setup.2024 Buick Encore GXLike its front-wheel drive coupe twin, the 2024 Buick Encore GX is rather affordable. The lineup only consists of three trim levels, Preferred FWD, Sport Touring, or ST (as pictured here), and Avenir. The pricing ladder kicks off at $32,483 and tops at $39,413 for a fully loaded Avenir. The all-wheel drive ST I was driving had $36,133 sticker price.

A Subcompact Car That Tries To Be A Premium Crossover

2024 Buick Encore GXOk, so, the Encore GX is a peculiar vehicle in the sense that some aspects of it make total sense, while others are absolutely ridiculous, and take the consumer for granted.

What I do like is that you never feel robbed with this thing as it’s truly not all that expensive, but still makes you feel like you’re getting a lot for your dollar. No, this doesn’t feel like a premium product, but there’s enough refinement here to at least measure up to some of the competition’s premium-oriented intentions. The first vehicle that comes to mind is the Mazda CX-30.However, no matter how much Buick tries to camouflage the Encore GX’s economy car roots, it doesn’t take long to reveal the subcompact car that’s riding underneath this thing. The Encore GX is bouncy, too stiff and flexes its torsion beam rear end the moment you send it hard over uneven pavement. It doesn’t present the same level of road manners and composure as its main Japanese rival, or even some mainstream alternatives such as a Hyundai Kona, for instance.At least, that puny little drivetrain remains a gem. You’ll never really know you’re driving a three-cylinder engine due to how much low-end grunt it churns out. There’s also more than enough power here for overtaking. That nine-speed automatic is also brilliant, quickly shuffling from one gear to the next all while blending beautifully with the engine’s powerband.Inside, the 2024 Buick Encore GX is a mix of modern and old GM, for better or for worse. The lower sections of the dashboard and door cards, as well as pretty much the entire center console, shift lever and HVAC controls all seem to have been taken out of a 2016 Chevy Malibu. That’s where I find that the Encore GX takes the consumer for granted. You won’t see this in a Mazda, or even a Hyundai.Move up to the steering wheel, dashboard and even the seats (which are very comfortable), however, and this little crossover suddenly justifies its premium promise. Buick did a great job of integrating the Envista’s large tablet LCD display onto the existing Encore GX as part of its 2023 refresh. That large screen – as it’s usually done elsewhere in the industry – is essentially two displays into one, with vital driving information to the left, and the infotainment system to the right.And it truly looks the part, with clean, elegant graphics that work well with the Buick name and badge. My brain knows that this is essentially the same interface as in the Trax, but my eyes and soul really want to believe that this proprietary to Buick. In typical GM fashion, everything responds quickly, is loaded with all the latest toys and is never a nuisance to operate.In the rear, it’s hard to hide the fact that the Encore GX is a subcompact crossover. It’s tiny back there, which could irritate some taller passengers. The problem here is that this vehicle is still sized like the old subcompact format. When you look at models like the new Kona, the Kia Seltos or even the Toyota Corolla Cross, you realize how much larger this segment has become. Unfortunately, the Encore GX can’t keep up. While headroom is fine back there, a tall person such as myself can’t sit behind someone who’s of the same height.Unsurprisingly, these Lilliputian dimensions don’t help the Encore GX in terms of cargo space. Fold the rear seats flat, and all you end up with is 1,422 liters of total cargo space. For reference, that’s barely more than a Mazda3 hatchback (1,333 liters), and considerably less than a Hyundai Kona (1,803 liters). Sorry, my shooter didn’t grab a photo of the cargo space, which is why that press photo up there shows a blue Encore GX instead.The 2024 Buick Encore GX, then, is a premium crossover only in spirit. In reality, it’s a very well equipped subcompact crossover from GM that’s wearing a pretty face, a fancy name and carries with it some interesting technology. It’s definitely priced ok, but I can’t personally fathom why anyone would consider this over some of the excellent mainstream alternatives currently on sale. Unless your goal really is to pretend that you’re driving a premium vehicle, then I suggest you look elsewhere.

Clavey's Verdict

Review of the 2024 Buick Encore GX ST by William Clavey
Premium Subcompact Crossovers

  • Looks more expensive than it is.
  • Decent pricing.
  • Punchy three-cylinder turbo engine.
  • Cramped rear seat.
  • Small cargo hold.
  • Doesn’t always feel like a premium product.

5 / 10

Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.

Special thanks: Buick Canada

Photography: Guillaume Fournier

Contact the author: [email protected]


William Clavey

About William Clavey

Automotive Journalist from Canada. Active collaborator at mainstream media outlets across Canada.

Leave a Reply