options trading 2020 Buick Encore GX Essenceoptions trading 2020 Buick Encore GX Essence

The cute ute goes upscale with the Buick Encore GX Essence.

Matthew DeBord/Insider


  • I drove a $34,115 Buick Encore GX, an all-new subcompact crossover SUV.
  • The new Encore GX is larger than the previous-generation vehicle, but it has a smaller motor. If that’s not confusing enough, the three-cylinder engine is actually more powerful then the old four-cylinder unit.
  • The Encore GX combines appealing styling with premium options and a fun driving experience, as well as surprising versatility.
  • The Encore GX also rises above mass-market competitors from Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan to challenge some smaller, entry-level luxury vehicles.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Buick Encore is a young-person’s car that wears a badge long associated with more mature individuals. It shouldn’t work, but it does, yielding impressive sales for the brand and cementing Buick’s crossover-driven comeback from near-death during the financial crisis.

As a one-time Buick owner — my parents gave me their Regal in the 1980s — I’ve approached the Encore with skepticism since the “cute ute’s” debut over half a decade ago. I’ll never forget the first time I drove one, in 2014. Man, is this thing small, I thought.

But over the years, the Encore has stood out because it’s part of a brand that’s thought of as “near luxury” and is supposed to rise above the mass market and prepare buyers, in the General Motors’ logic, to graduate to a Cadillac someday. 

That old brand ladder doesn’t apply anymore, but for the Encore to make good on its brand promise, it needs to be comparable to a small BMW utes, even though one might want to match it up against Mazda and Kia.

For 2020, Buick has rolled out the all-new GX level of the Encore, and I spent a week testing it in New Jersey and New York. Here’s how it went.

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