Saturday, September 26, 2020



“Trickle down” is not just an economic theory that either works or doesn’t work mostly depending on your political views, but there is no doubt that “trickle down” when referred to in the automotive world works.

Today safety and driver assistant features that once were exclusive to high-end luxury cars often are showing up on much less expensive vehicles, and not just as options.

Consider the new compact crossover SUV Buick Encore GX.

With an MSRP that just brushes the $30,000 mark it its top end, the Buick Encore GX might be expected to skimp on safety and driver assistant features. But it doesn’t.

New standard safety and driver assistance features on the debut 2020 model include forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, following distance dndicator, and IntelliBeam headlamps with automatically-adjusting high/low beams.

Other niceties like rear park assist,  rear cross traffic alert,  lane change alert with blind zone alert, rear camera mirror (which provides a wide, less obstructed rear view while parking and driving), hands-free power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, head-up display, automatic parking assist with braking, and high definition surround vision camera system are available.

Though the Encore GX nameplate might suggest it is just a new trim from the Encore that was introduced for the 2013 model year, the Encore GX actually is a new model, a bit bigger (171.4 inches long to 168.35) with nearly 5 more cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row than its Encore sibling.

The Encore GX slots between the smaller Encore and slightly larger Envision and Enclave SUVs and comes in three trim levels — Preferred, Select, and Essence, a front-wheel-drive version of the latter serving as my test vehicle for the week.

The Encore GX is slightly more expensive than the Encore with a starting price just under $26,000. The Encore GX Essence FWD carries a starting price of $29,495 including the $995 destination and delivery charge.

In addition to the safety systems listed earlier, you get standard features that include keyless open and push-button start, Buick’s infotainment system with an 8-inch screen, Bluetooth communications, OnStar services, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat with lumbar, perforated leather seats, a two-level cargo area, leather-wrapped steering wheel, capless fuel fill, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, LED headlamps and taillights, LED fog lights, and signature LED daytime running lights.

An Advance Technology Package (surround vision, head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and navigation), Convenience Package (automatic parking assist with braking, wireless charging, rear camera with washer, and rain-sensing windshield wipers) and other options ran the final bottom line to $34,065, which frankly is in the higher ranges of the segment.

My test vehicle came with a turbocharged, 1.3-liter 3-cylinder engine with a CVT (continuously variable transmission). The engine puts out 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque with fuel mileage of 30 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway, and 31 combined.

The base engine is a 1.2-liter turbo rated at 137/162, respectively. A 9-speed automatic transmission is available on AWD models with the 1.3L engine. AWD models also include the capability to switch to FWD for slightly better fuel economy if conditions allow.

Neither engine is going to wow you with its power and pickup, though driving around town it seemed peppier than the numbers might suggest.

The addition of the Encore GX to Buick’s crossover/SUV lineup (while keeping the original Encore) is further reflection of consumers’ current tastes. The company reports that its crossovers/SUVs account for nearly 90 percent of their current sales. 

What I liked about the 2020 Buick Encore GX Essence:
Infotainment features are plentiful and easy to operate, though to get the really good stuff you have to add optional packages even on the top-of-the-line Essence trim, and that can run the final price up. It’s an attractive SUV with a nice interior. GM has come up with a way to display the head-up display that projects speed in line of the driver’s sight even while wearing polarized sunglasses!

What I didn’t like about the 2020 Buick Encore GX Essence: Pricing is on the high side in the segment and adding packages for navigation and a surround-vision camera takes the bottom line even further up. The view out the back is somewhat restricted, and front seats are snug. It’s not the liveliest compact crossover to drive, but it’s not all that bad.

Would I buy the 2020 Buick Encore GX Essence? I don’t like vehicles with CVTs because they don’t offer much in the way of driving fun, which rules out FWD Encore GX models for me, but I would look at AWD Encore GX models where the 9-speed automatic is available. Overall, it’s a nice-looking, functional crossover SUV. Definitely not an “old” Buick.

No comments:

Post a Comment