. – It’s been an interesting journey for Buick over the past few years. The 115-year-old legacy division that sits somewhere between Chevrolet and Cadillac in the GM brand hierarchy has been mostly sidelined as new models, many electrified, have been announced for its three in-house siblings.
In short, “What about Buick?” has become a common refrain both within and without the automotive bubble over the past half-decade or so.
Apart from design updates for existing models (Envision and Enclave), and the dropping of its last sedan in 2020, the Euro-sourced Regal, not much appears to be happening at Buick, on the surface at least.
That’s beginning to change, however, as the brand made waves last year, not only with the reveal of the dramatic Wildcat EV concept last June, but also confirmation that Buick plans to be all-electric by 2030.
With the first Buick EV slated to arrive next year, the current lineup is also being addressed. The all-new 2024 Envista
was revealed earlier this month and the significantly updated 2024 Encore GX, the focus of this first drive report, will begin arriving at Canadian dealerships later this spring.
While I was in suburban Detroit for the reveal of the Envista, which replaces the discontinued entry-level Encore this summer, Buick made a few U.S. pre-production copies of the Encore GX available for short test drives.
I wrote a reveal story of the 2024 Encore GX
back in February, so check that one out for more context. So as not to repeat myself too much, I’m going to focus mostly on impressions of the Encore GX I spent about 90 minutes driving.
To reset briefly, the Encore GX, one of the few new Buicks of recent vintage, was all-new in 2020 and is essentially a mechanical twin of the Chevrolet Trailblazer.
Yes, the cars are packaged and marketed differently, with different styling and so on, but they are built in the same Korean plant and share powertrains and a common platform architecture.
For North America, the ‘24 Encore GX is offered in three trims, Preferred, ST (sport touring) and Avenir. All models are powered by a 1.3-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine producing 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, save for the base front-wheel drive Preferred, which comes with a CVT. A price breakdown is listed below.
Buick had several grades available for the drive, and I was directed towards an ST tester finished in Moonstone Gray Metallic with a Whisper Beige and black interior.
As far as looks are concerned, the Encore GX’s facelift, which incorporates several Wildcat EV design cues, has given the car a more up-market presence. Its front end, which retains the Wildcat’s prominent forward-leaning nose, slim checkmark LED headlights and wide open-mouth grille, is especially striking. It gives off a strong concept vibe and is a marked departure from the outgoing model.
The Encore GX is the first Buick to receive the brand’s all-new tri-shield logo and new tailgate name and wordmark badging, a pattern which will be repeated on the Envista and future models to come.
Buick is also segmenting the Encore GX by trim. The ST grade, for example, has 18-inch high-gloss black alloy wheels and lots of black trim, including wheel arches, front grille, rear bumper and diffuser and rocker panels.
On the inside, the biggest change is a redesigned display system where the instrument cluster and multimedia screens are now housed in one panel. Totalling 19 inches, the display features an eight-inch configurable instrument cluster and an 11-inch multimedia touchscreen.
Other changes include restyled climate control switches, embroidered ST headrest logos and new seat designs and stitch patterns. The ST also receives a grade-specific flat-bottomed steering wheel, along with standard heated front seats, heated steering wheel and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
All grades also come standard with the Buick Driver Confidence package, which includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, IntelliBeam auto high-beams and more.
For the drive, Buick plotted a route north from our Birmingham hotel that consisted of local and arterial roads in a loop that took roughly 90 minutes to complete.
Generally, the Encore GX impressed this writer, specifically its sharp design update, revamped interior with gorgeous digital displays and better materials. The outgoing Encore GX was a pleasing enough car to ride around in, but the aesthetic overhaul the 2024 model has received puts it light years ahead of its predecessor.
I also find the Encore GX to be reasonably spacious and comfortable, for a small crossover, with ample leg, head, and shoulder room to accommodate my 6-foot frame in both the front and rear seats. The driving position feels good, and while there isn’t a great deal of seat articulation and bolstering, I find the driver’s seat to be quite comfortable. Given its tall-riding design, the Encore GX’s big greenhouse also provides for very good outward visibility.
As for the drive, well, it’s adequate. There’s no getting around, however, the fact the 1.3-litre turbo is a tiny engine that doesn’t provide much performance. Is it fine in normal everyday traffic like I encountered in Michigan? Yes, but on-ramp merging on busy highways, which I did not experience during my drive, can require some quick acceleration. And the Encore GX is not quick.
Even on arterial roads with higher speed limits, such as Woodward Avenue that runs north from downtown Detroit to its suburbs, the Encore GX feels slow unless the throttle is really matted. Even then, the 1.3-litre turbo takes a while to get the car up to speed.
It’s a better story for ride quality, though, thanks to liberal application of Buick’s QuietTuning, which consists of sound deadening measures and materials that do a reasonable job of shushing wind and tire noise. The Encore GX’s short wheelbase makes its ride a bit choppy by nature, but Michigan’s pockmarked roads didn’t upset it too much, at least in normal driving conditions.
Overall, the 2024 Encore GX is compelling option for those in the small crossover market, if style, technology, and standard content at a reasonable price, but not performance, are must-haves.
2024 Buick Encore GX pricing
Preferred FWD – $29,649
Preferred – $31,649
ST – $33,299
Avenir – $36,079
The 2024 Buick Encore GX goes on sale in late spring.
2024 Buick Encore GX
Front-engine, front / all-wheel drive, CVT / 9-speed automatic transmission
1.3-litre turbocharged three-cylinder (155 hp / 174 lb-ft.)
(Regular 87) 9.1 / 8.4 / 8.8 L / 100 km (city / highway / combined – AWD)
1,421 / 665 litres (50.2 / 23.5 cu ft.) (behind first / second row)
MAXIMUM TOWING: 1,000 pounds (453 kg.)
$31,849 base, incl. freight, excl. taxes and fees