2021 Buick Encore GX Essence Review

Written By: Jerry Reynolds | Jun 28, 2021 12:36:34 PM

This week I’ve been driving the Buick Encore GX, a small premium crossover that is a little larger than the original Encore, but not as large as the Buick Envision.  Encore GX shares a platform with the popular Chevy Blazer.


The Encore GX was an addition to the Buick lineup 2020.  The smaller Encore sold well for Buick but many people, including me, did not like the shape of it, and Buick gave the GX better lines and less of an egg-shape.  It is also 3-inches longer and I find the appearance pleasing.  I would not be surprised if the Encore GX eventually replaces the Encore.  If you want to step down to the Encore, you can pocket $4,000.


Under the hood, you have the choice of two different turbocharged 3-cylinder engines.  Yes, I said 3-cylinder.  There is a 1.2-liter and also the one I have, a 1.3-liter turbo putting out 155-horses.  On the front-wheel drive versions you get a continually variable transmission, but if you get all-wheel drive, like the one I am reviewing it comes with a conventional 9-speed.   

Encore GX comes in three trim levels, the Preferred, the Select, and the top-of-the-line Essence which is what you see here. 


Moving to the inside, you see attractive and inviting seats that are heated and quite comfortable.  As you look at the dash, there is 4-inch configurable driver information center.  On top of the dash is a pop-up head-up display that looks a little cheap to me, somewhat like an aftermarket add-on, but it does work well to keep you posted on your current speed. 

The infotainment system has an 8” screen that works well and features audio controls for Bluetooth, navigation, your Wi-Fi Hotspot, settings, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but no HD radio much to my displeasure.

Photo Credit: Buick

Swipe left to the next screen and you can add your own apps, operate OnStar, climate, the rear camera, and activate Alexa, which has an interface with Whole Foods so you can shop from your vehicle.  Marketplace also allows you to pre-order food and drinks from certain chain restaurants.

The center console is laid out well with a wireless phone charger and buttons to turn off the start/stop, turn on the parking sensors and parking assist.  The Encore GX will parallel park itself, which is a nice feature.

The interior of the Encore GX is well done with minimal stitching and a mix of soft-touch materials and plastic.  Back seat head and leg room are good, and back occupants get USB ports and a power outlet, but no rear air vents, which is a problem. 

Cargo area is actually good.  You get 23.5 cubic feet of cargo area, and put down the back seat and that grows to 50.2.  One cool feature is the passenger front seat folds flat if you need to haul something really long.

Standard Equipment and Options

The Essence package comes well equipped with keyless entry and remote start, driver and passenger power seat, heated steering wheel, and LED front and rear lights.

Safety-wise, you get automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, lane keeping assistance and lane departure warning.  It also has the back seat reminder and teen driver features.  The back seat reminder can be a true lifesaver for children and pets.

Other options include Sport Touring package, power liftgate, 18” wheels, and the Ebony Twilight paint will set you back $495. The larger engine adds $395.

Ride and Drive

It is a Buick so handling is good, the ride is soft, the turning radius is fantastic and it is super quiet inside, but let’s be honest, the 3-cylinder is anemic at best, especially for those of us with a heavy foot.  The 1.3-liter does OK once you get to highway cruising speed but getting there is a bit of a struggle.

Gas mileage is good at 30 in town, but only 32 on the highway.  Price-wise, it’s a good value at $34,215 before discounts and rebates.


The Encore GX is a good addition to the lineup, especially since I’ve never been a fan of the smaller Encore.


  • What I Liked Most: The interior and the quietness.
  • What I would change: Give me about 50 more horses.
  • Fuel Economy: Rated at 30 in town,32 highway, 31 Combined.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 5,400 miles.
  • Weight: 3,094 pounds.
  • Spare Tire: Inflator kit.
  • Length-Width-Height: 171.4” long/74.1” wide/64.1” high.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
  • Towing Capacity: 1,000 pounds.
  • Official Color: Ebony Twilight.
  • 2021 Buick Encore GX in a few words: A really great compact SUV, if you aren’t interested in performance.
  • Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 5-year/50,000 mile power train warranty, free first maintenance visit, and courtesy transportation.
  • Final Assembly Location: Gu, South Korea.
  • Manufacturer's website: Buick
  • Up Next: 2021 McLaren 720s