2024 Buick Encore GX First Look: It’s a Shoestring Makeover
You’re forgiven if you found it confusing that Buick offered a Buick Encore subcompact SUV as well as a slightly larger and better-looking Buick Encore GX—and they were pretty much unrelated and built on different platforms.
The Encore was a pioneer when it arrived in the small SUV space in 2013; the more premium 2020 Encore GX joined the lineup in 2019 and became the segment’s volume leader in its first year. Its styling was refreshing and more premium.
Confusion now subsides for the 2024 model year. The base-model Encore, which some of our staffers referred to as a potato on wheels, went out of production in November, and only about 2,000 remain on dealer lots. The lineup’s new entry-level model, the 2024 Buick Encore GX subcompact crossover, gets a midcycle refresh, new sportier and high-end trim levels, and a price drop.
General Motors has been open about the fact it’s allocating more resources to its electric-car future—the company plans for its lineup to be entirely electric by 2030. Internal combustion vehicles like the 2024 Buick Encore GX are getting just enough love to keep them competitive.
Love and Money for a Bestseller
The Encore GX might not be the most profitable, but it’s Buick’s North American bestseller and must be tended to. To that end, the 2024 Buick Encore GX gets an Avenir top trim like the rest of the Buick family. Product planners also created a new ST trim level based on the Sport Touring package.
The new Encore GX prudently stays on the same platform, is the same overall size as before, and retains the same powertrains. The frugal refresh budget went to some cosmetic changes and a better infotainment system, enough updates to get this global vehicle through the rest of its life cycle as a subcompact SUV with an internal combustion engine.
First Buick Wildcat Copycat
The 2024 Encore GX becomes the first production model to adopt some of the styling cues of the Buick Wildcat EV concept unveiled last year, a luscious 2+2 coupe that telegraphed Buick’s future design direction. The Encore GX also becomes the first Buick to wear the new tri-colored and illuminated tri-shield logo, the emblem’s first significant change since 1990.
The front end is new, with a low mouth, high-mounted LED headlights, and a forward-leaning shark nose. The tri-shield leaves the grille and is now body-mounted on the front fascia. Look for the Easter egg: the logo etched into the front LEDs. The taillights are now full LEDs on all trim levels, and the back end features a new Buick wordmark.
The new Encore Avenir trim boasts body-color moldings and mirror caps, and the chrome mesh grille is more jeweled. The standard 19-inch wheels have an exclusive pearl-nickel finish. Look closely, and you see the taillights are smoked slightly to appear darker and richer than those in the ST, whose lights sport red coverings to make them brighter. The first Avenir model was the 2018 Buick Enclave, followed by the Buick Envision luxury midsize SUV. Today, roughly 28 percent of Buick’s sales are of the Avenir trim, making it an attractive business model now applied to the Encore GX.
Meanwhile, the Encore GX ST has its own set of 18- and 19-inch blacked-out wheels, gloss black bumpers, an optional black roof package, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. For 2024, the Encore range overall introduces a new hue, Ocean Blue, headlining a selection of youthful colors.
Same Power Under the Hood
The carryover engines are the standard 127-hp, 162-lb-ft 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, and the Avenir’s and ST’s 155-hp, 174-lb-ft 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder. Indeed, horsepower and torque are unchanged from before. The front-wheel-drive models use a CVT while the all-wheel-drive versions have a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The powertrains have been tuned to improve fuel economy slightly. The front-drive Encore GX will get an estimated 31/29/30 mpg city/highway/combined, while the AWD will likely get 29/26/27 mpg.
Updating the Interior
Encore interior updates won’t blow you away, either, but the ambience gets a bump from a new quilting pattern on the seats. The big deal: The new Virtual Cockpit System gives the driver an 8.0-inch display and an 11.0-inch center screen, both under a single piece of glass in a new instrument panel. It replaces the old setup with physical gauges and two separate screens. The new system is configurable, allowing you to select your desired view and the information you want displayed. You can also move trip info, tire pressure, and other pieces of data to the center screen. The system was designed for the Buick lineup going forward, starting with the Encore GX. Other brands will get a different version of the new cockpit, including the Chevrolet Trailblazer that has also been remodeled for the 2024 model year. The two share the same platform.
Another welcome update: wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—the outgoing model needed a cord to access those features. GM smartly retains a physical volume knob for the audio system.
Pricing for the new 2024 Buick Encore GX starts at $26,895, $300 less than the outgoing model—a nod to the fact this is Buick’s new entry-level vehicle thanks to the decision to discontinue the Encore. The expectation is Encore buyers will migrate up to the Encore GX if it remains affordable in a world where there are fewer choices costing less than $30,000. The 2024 Buick Encore ST starts at $28,095, and the Avenir is $33,195.
Though most of the actual content carries over, GM attempted to repackage some features and make more amenities standard to simplify ordering. Built in Korea, production begins in March; the first vehicles should reach North America at the end of May. Of all GM brands, Buick is the one most aggressively marketed to female buyers. It has proven successful: Women account for 55 percent of Buick buyers, and that percentage rises to 58 percent for the Encore GX. The brand will continue to target the demographic.
Buick will also continue to update its gas-powered lineup; the Encore GX is one of three reveals planned for this year. Another one is likely a similar midcycle update to the Buick Envision to adopt Wildcat styling, and the other is the addition of a new nameplate.
Buick next year will launch its first pure electric SUV, followed by a second electric crossover SUV in 2025 for a total of five new vehicle launches in the next 18 months.
|2024 Buick Encore GX Specifications|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||1.2L/137-hp/162-lb-ft turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3; 1.3L/155-hp/174-lb-ft turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3|
|TRANSMISSIONS||Cont variable; 9-speed auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,000 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||171.4 x 71.4 x 64.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.1-9.5 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||29-31/26-29/27-30 mpg (mfr est)|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||378-420 miles (mfr est)|
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