A few yr in the past, Buick confirmed us its beautiful Wildcat EV idea. Whereas that sporty coupe may by no means see the tip of a manufacturing line, it signaled a brand new course for the model’s design. For 2024, Buick gave its hottest mannequin in North America, the Encore GX small SUV, a reasonably substantial visible refresh. Whereas it doesn’t get the Wildcat’s electrical powertrain, the refreshed ute is the primary within the lineup to borrow its design cues. It additionally lastly will get the Avenir trim, the epitome of fashion and luxurious beforehand utilized to different Buick fashions, together with some tech upgrades. So whereas we’re nonetheless not in a position to get behind the wheel of an electrical Buick, the ’24 Encore GX Avenir AWD touchdown in our driveway gave us the possibility to see what a nip and a tuck can do to raise this child Buick crossover.
This new face is simple on the eyes, trying extra trendy and athletic than the earlier model. Gone is the considerably frumpy and bulbous outdated fascia. Now, we get a pointy nostril emblazoned with an all-new emblem — the encore GX is the primary manufacturing automotive to sport this contemporary tackle the Buick shields. Beneath that’s the new grille in all its unbroken mesh glory, surrounded by shiny chrome on this Avenir trim. A pair of swoopy winged LED headlights reside just under the elegantly creased hood. From the facet, the Avenir will get large, 19-inch aluminum wheels in a Pearl Nickel end, with that new emblem within the middle. It additionally will get body-color fenders versus the black on a few of the different trims. In again, we see the brand new emblem repeated prominently once more, with the LED taillights trying virtually as in the event that they’re pointing it out. Beneath that’s the model identify spelled out giant. On the backside is what seems to be like a black diffuser, however we will’t think about it does a lot however make the automotive look sporty.
Inside, the massive information is the brand new dual-display “digital cockpit”, with two screens below a single sheet of glass. On the best facet is the 11-inch infotainment touchscreen, on the left is an 8-inch digital instrument cluster. We just like the structure of the infotainment residence display screen, which is simple to make use of and configurable. Sure info within the infotainment could be despatched to the driving force’s show — if you wish to hold shut tabs in your battery voltage, as an illustration. Favor the familiarity of your cellphone? Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are normal throughout trim ranges. Reward be. Maybe simply as essential as its performance, although, is that this twin show instantly elevates the Encore GX’s cabin, giving it a flash of tech-focused modernism with out inundating it with heavy, Matrix-style futurism. It feels a little bit like the twin shows you’ll discover within the Hyundai Ioniq EVs or the Kia EV6, which isn’t a foul factor, until you adhere to the separation of church and state relating to instrumentation and infotainment. Additionally, in case you like analog gauges, you’re out of luck.
Fortunately, Buick didn’t go too far into the long run with its interfaces. Whilst you can management issues just like the local weather and audio from the touchscreen, there are nonetheless devoted buttons and toggles for HVAC on the middle stack, a quantity knob between the screens and extra audio controls on the again of the steering wheel. Beneath these controls are 12-volt, USB-A and USB-C ports, with a wi-fi cellphone charger in a cubby under these. Whereas cubbies like that usually purchase muddle, there’s a handy open cubby simply behind the cupholders that may higher serve these odds and ends that automobiles are likely to accumulate (it’s additionally the right dimension for a Nalgene water bottle). There’s additionally a small however deep under-armrest bin with a detachable tray on the high.
Supplies are good, with soft-touch plastics and leather-based in many of the locations you’d contact, whereas down by your knees you’ll discover more durable plastics. The inside design isn’t as impressed within the Encore GX as they’re in greater Avenir fashions, but it surely undoubtedly feels luxurious for a trim that begins proper round $35,000. The seats are snug, upholstered in perforated leather-based. The entrance seats are heated, too, however not ventilated, sadly.
Among the comfort luxuries in our tester aren’t included within the base Avenir value. Objects just like the hands-free energy liftgate, rain-sensing wipers and Bose sound system are a part of the $1,295 comfort package deal. And for adaptive cruise management, rear digicam mirror, surround-view parking cameras and the aforementioned wi-fi charger, you’ll must go for the $1,395 expertise package deal. We may in all probability do with out that first bundle, however the tech upgrades appear important at this value level, significantly the adaptive cruise management. Whilst you could not significantly take care of the power to show your rear-view mirror right into a digicam feed, we tremendously respect the crisp, uninterrupted view it gives, even when your rear window is totally blocked by cargo. The 360-degree parking digicam is nice, too, however this little ute is already fairly simple to park.
Transferring into the again, the legroom behind a tall driver shall be cramped for taller adults, and with a toddler in a automotive seat, you’ll undoubtedly really feel some occasional kicks to the again of your chair. Apparently sufficient, the entrance passenger seat can fold ahead all the way in which to a flat place. That’s nice in case you want the additional size for sure cargos, however a rear passenger may additionally probably use it as a makeshift ottoman. The rear seats don’t have their very own local weather controls, or perhaps a vent at the back of the middle console, however they do get a three-prong plug, plus a USB-A and -C port. As long as you don’t have a passenger within the middle, a middle armrest folds down to supply cupholders. The rear passengers additionally get to benefit from the panoramic moonroof.
The Encore GX affords two out there powerplants, each sporting three cylinders and a turbocharger. The bottom mill displaces 1.2-liters, and gives 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque by a constantly variable transmission. It’s solely out there on the bottom Most popular trim with front-wheel drive. All different variations of the Encore GX are powered by a 1.3-liter motor making 155 hp and 173 lb-ft. With front-wheel drive, you’re caught with the CVT. AWD is obtainable on each trim, although, and is paired with a conventional nine-speed automated transmission. The all-wheel drive is on-demand, chosen by way of a button on the middle console, so you may direct energy by simply the entrance wheels once you don’t want the additional traction and would like to save lots of gasoline.
Our tester was geared up with the 1.3-liter and all-wheel drive. Even with the larger motor, it’s simple to be skeptical of the little three-cylinder’s skill to inspire the Encore GX. Out on the street, although, we discovered it to supply satisfactory pep, particularly at around-town speeds. It’s not going to win any drag races, however that’s not the purpose, and it doesn’t really feel particularly sluggish. It responds easily to inputs from the accelerator. The nine-speed automated is properly suited to this motor, too, shifting easily with little searching. It at all times appeared to maintain the revs proper the place they wanted to be to benefit from the facility available, with the turbocharger spreading that energy throughout the rev vary. Even higher, it’s quiet. The sound of the engine not often intrudes into the cabin even when it’s working its hardest, and is minimally invasive when it does thanks partially to the car’s sound deadening and energetic noise cancellation system. The truth that you don’t actually hear this little motor laboring helps to downplay its lack of outright energy and velocity.
The trip is snug, too, even with the Avenir’s bigger 19-inch wheels. The Encore GX does a wonderful job of maintaining street chop from chattering its approach into the cabin, however greater undulations within the street will overcome the Encore’s brief wheelbase to place the entire automotive into movement. This Buick isn’t going to encourage you to press it laborious by any corners. It’s not arrange for sporty driving, and whereas it’ll rotate eagerly at low speeds, it doesn’t provide the stiff-legged poise or suggestions for higher-speed transitions. Simply as properly — that’d in all probability wreck the snug cruising that pulls luxury-minded patrons to this specific crossover.
Beginning at $26,896 for the bottom Most popular trim with front-wheel drive, and with this line-topping Avenir AWD with its 1.3-liter costing $34,795, the Encore GX affords a step above your primary, mainstream small SUV. It gives respectable fashion and luxurious for properly below immediately’s common value of a brand new automotive. If you need one thing snug and usable with no need a rocket below the hood, a tech interface that may learn your thoughts or a German identify, the Encore GX is a compelling worth. The truth that its well-executed refresh makes it look higher in your driveway solely sweetens the deal.